Two days after the Bombay high court came down heavily on the Maharashtra government for failing to give effect to the scheme for compensating rape and acid attack victims, the state on Thursday told the court that the scheme would be made operational within two months.
Assistant public prosecutor Prajakta Shinde informed the high court that the home department has forwarded a proposal for financial sanction and the formalities would take at least two months.
The division bench of justice SC Dharmadhikari and justice SB Shukre accordingly granted two month’s time to the home department, but added a caution:
“Authorities concerned must show some sense of urgency and see to it that nothing remains to be done after the time period is over. These are not measures that can be postponed. We expect that a sense of urgency would be shown so that the scheme which provides solace to victims, particularly minors and children, is made operational as early as possible.”
The judges expressed displeasure over the fact that though the scheme was formulated in 2010, no steps have been taken even after the state received a letter from the central government in February 2013, stating it would provide 50% funds required for implementation of the scheme.
The judges were also surprised to note that though the state chief secretary had convened a meeting of concerned bureaucrats on July 14, the financial sanction for the scheme was still pending.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by city NGO Forum Against Oppression of Women, seeking directions to implement the provision of section 357(A) of the Criminal Procedure Code, which mandates that state governments formulate a scheme to compensate victims of crime and disburse the compensation amount through District Legal Aid Authorities.
Earlier, during course of hearing on the PIL on July 22, the bench had rapped the state government after noting that it had cited lack of funds as the reason for not implementing the compensation scheme in Maharashtra.