Locating the Survivor in the Indian Criminal Justice System: Decoding the Law


The publication “Locating the Survivor in the Indian Criminal Justice System: Decoding the Law” serves as a guide for survivors, young lawyers, and other key stakeholders in the criminal justice system  to understand the nuances of the criminal justice system and the legitimate expectations she can have from the system.  The document refers extensively to the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (“Cr.P.C”) and attempts to simplify the reader’s understanding of the legal amendments.  The document is aimed at those assisting survivors of sexual offences in navigating the criminal justice system. It is intended to provide a step-by-step guidance to those working with survivors i.e. lawyers and prosecutors. Identifying the various stakeholders in the justice delivery machinery, it points out the specific roles assigned to each. The document provides a comprehensive coverage of the survivor's entitlement introduced by the Criminal Law (Amendment), Act, 2013. It also discusses the complementary changes brought in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.

The publication also refers to the recommendations of the Justice JS Verma Committee and case-law in order to contextualize the criminal law amendments.  The document seeks to critically analyze the amendments brought about with regard to the Justice Verma Committee Report.  For example, as per section 24(8) of the Cr.P.C, a victim may be permitted by the court to engage an advocate of her choice to assist the prosecution. While this ensures a close participation of survivor through her lawyer, it is still a secondary role. Section 302 Cr.P.C limits the role of the private prosecutor to that of assistance to the public prosecutor. In contrast, the recommendations of the Justice JS Verma Committee note that it should be a statutory right as a part of due process of access to justice that the victim/complainant will be able to engage a lawyer of his or her choice – that is, the victim’s advocate should have a right of audience in his/her own right, and not merely in a support capacity to the prosecutor.