Hon’ble Supreme Court in this landmark judgment dealt with three questions, namely
(i) whether the respondents are not guilty of the offence under s. 307/149 IPC;
(ii) whether the High Court was justified in extending the benefit of s. 360 Cr.P.C. and releasing the accused on probation of good conduct; and
(iii) whether the compensation awarded to Joginder could be legally sustained, and if so, what should be the proper compensation ?
Let’s concentrate on the question #3
Hon’ble Apex Court has answered the question #3 above in likewise
This takes us to, the third questions which we have formulated earlier in this judgments. The High Court has directed each of the respondents to pay Rs. 2,500 as compensation to Joginder. The High Court has not referred to any provision of law in support of the order of compensation. But that can be traced to s. 357 Cr. P.C.
Section 357, leaving aside the unnecessary, provides :
“357. Order to pay compensation :
(1) When a court imposes a sentence of fine or a sentence (including a sentence of death) of which fine forms a part,the Court may. when passing judgment. order the whole or any part of the fine recovered to be applied-
(a) in defraying the expenses properly incurred in the prosecution;
(b) in the payment to any person of compensation for any loss or injury caused by the offence. when compensation is in the opinion of the Court, recoverable by such person in a civil Court;
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(3) When a Court imposes a sentence, of which fine does not not form a part, the Court may, when passing judgment order the accused person to pay, by way of compensation such amount as may be specified in the order to the person who has suffered any loss or injury by reason of the act for which the accused person has been so sentenced.
(4) An order under this section may also be made by an Appellate Court or by the High Court or Court of Session when exercising its power of revision.
(5) At the time of awarding compensation in any subsequent civil suit relating to the same matter. the Court shall take into account any sum paid or recovered as compensation under this section.”
Sub-section (1) of Section 357 provides power to award compensation to victims of the offence out of the sentence of fine imposed on accused. In this case. we are not concerned with sub-section (1). We are concerned only with sub-section (3). It is an important provision but Courts have seldom invoked it. Perhaps due to ignorance of the object of it. It empowers the Court to award compensation to victims while passing judgment of conviction. In addition to conviction, the Court may order the accused to pay some amount by way of compensation to victim who has suffered by the action of accused. It may be noted that this power of Courts to award compensation is not ancillary to other sentences but it is in addition thereto. This power was intended to do something to re-assure the victim that he or she is not forgotten in the criminal justice system. It is a measure of responding appropriately to crime as well of reconciling the victim with the offender. It is, to some extent. a constructive approach to, crimes. It is indeed a step forward in our criminal justice system. We, therefore, recommend to all Courts to exercise this power liberally so as to meet the ends of justice in a better way.
The payment by way of compensation must, however, be reasonable What is reasonable, may depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case. The quantum of compensation may be determined by taking into account the nature of crime, the justness of claim by the victim and the ability of accused to pay. If there are more than one accused they may be asked to pay in equal terms unless their capacity to pay varies considerably. The payment may also vary depending upon the acts of each accused. Reasonable period for payment of compensation, if necessary by installments, may also be given. The Court may enforce the order by imposing sentence in default.
Final verdict in regards to this question #3
The compensation awarded by the High Court, in our opinion, appears to be inadequate having regard to the nature of injury suffered by Joginder. We have ascertained the means of accused and their ability to pay further sum to the victim. We are told that they are not unwilling to bear the additional burden. Mr. Lalit learned counsel said that his clients are willing to pay any amount determined by this Court. It is indeed a good gesture on the part of counsel and his clients.
With due regard to all the facts and circumstances of the case, we consider that Rs.50,000 compensation to Joginder would meet the ends of justice. We direct the respondents to pay the balance within two months in equal proportions.
Hari Kishan & Anr Vs Sukhbir Singh & Ors on 25 August, 1988