Victim Empowerment In The Criminal Justice System

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In a nation like ours, cases of sexual violence have been a key topic of discussion, since the brutal gang rape of a young girl on a bus in Delhi made headlines around the world in December, 2012. Popularly referred to as Nirbhaya, the victim didn’t survive to witness the fate of the alleged offenders who were awarded death penalty and the Supreme Court of India in May,2017 also upheld the verdict of capital punishment for the four men convicted of rape in that case . There have been series of cases of sexual violence especially against women and children, with the recent ones being that of the sexual abuse of minors . The low conviction rates in case of sexual offence, however, portray the ineffectiveness of the existing criminal justice system…show more content…
While the retributive justice system primarily focuses on the community response to offending, thereby totally ignoring the legitimate needs of the victims, the restorative justice system works on the idea of victim empowerment. Having said that, we also have to take into account the recent paradigm shift, which has been a result of the various movements against the deficiencies in the current criminal justice system. The Courts are slowly making certain changes in the sentencing policies by paying heed to the wailings of the victims, one major instance being that of the scope for victim compensation under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The Supreme Court has taken a pro-active role and resorted to affirmative action to protect the rights of victims of sexual offences. Since restorative justice is an emerging concept in India, previous research on this area clearly points out that the main difference between restorative and retributive approaches is the former’s emphasis on reintegration, restitution and reparation. Also, we cannot deny the fact that India is slowly moving towards a more restorative justice approach from the traditional retributive system with assistance from various human rights groups. However, one pertinent question that remains unanswered is whether restorative approach can be effectively applied in sexual offending cases especially involving women and minors. If such approach is possible to mitigate at least some amount of existing societal problems with regard to gendered violence, can the restorative justice system be a possible alternative to the traditional retributive approach? These are some critical issues which will be untangled in the
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