The Punjab and Haryana high court has rapped the Punjab government for "disproportionate compensation" being awarded by the state authorities to rape victims.
A single-judge bench of justice Mahesh Grover was not pleased with the compensation being given to rape victims in Haryana and Chandigarh as well. The Punjab government has revealed in an affidavit to the court that 1,070 incidents of rape were reported between January 1, 2013, and August 31, 2014. It said a compensation of `3.65 lakh had been awarded to the victims. On incident shows that `15,000 compensation was granted to a rape victim and `60,000 to another, justice Grover recorded in his recent order.
"This suggests that an amount of little less than `3 lakh has been awarded to the remaining 1,068 victims. To the mind of this court as also to any person who gives a cursory look at these figures, the compensation awarded is highly disproportionate to the number of victims," justice Grover said reacting to the government affidavit in his May 25 order. He further stated that nothing had been suggested in the government response as to how the compensation had been disbursed to a few and declined to the others.
The order was passed on the reports submitted by Punjab, Haryana and UT in respect to an August 2014 order, wherein the high court had sought details indicating efforts, measures and mechanism applied for the rehabilitation and compensation to the rape victims in their areas of jurisdiction.
"Even though these steps can be termed to be in the right direction, but the laxity in turning proposals into reality only reveals what the court has been suspecting all along: Apathetic attitude which is true to the states of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh," justice Grover recorded to submissions of Haryana. Haryana had told the court that it was taking steps for gender sensitisation and recruitment of women constables and setting up of four more women police stations.
As of rape cases, Haryana told the high court that between January 1, 2014, and August 2014, 759 cases were reported. The compensation was granted only in 57 cases amounting to Rs 3 lakh.
In Chandigarh, the rape cases reported between January 1, 2013, and August 2014, were 59, the court was informed. But the UT too had given compensation to three such victims only. The court has sought a fresh report from the administration observing that there was no coherence in the affidavit filed and nothing suggested as to what has happened to 56 other rape victims.
"On a cumulative reading of the affidavits, the court would state that much needs to be done. Both the states of Punjab and Haryana require to set up more centres for destitute women, adequately staffed with incumbents trained in psychology and sociology and counsellors equipped in mind sciences," the high court said further observing that some of the measures suggested by respondents indicated a forward movement, but their careful reading suggests that a lot needs to be done.