The Bombay high court on Wednesday said the Maharashtra government should enhance the amount of compensation payable to acid attack and rape victims from the present limit of Rs3 lakh to Rs10 lakh.
“The state government should pay a sum of Rs10 lakh, as is being done in Goa,” said the division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and justice Girish Kulkarni while hearing a petition filed by a 14-year-old rape survivor from the city, complaining about non-payment of compensation to her under the state’s Manodhairya Scheme. The comment came after petitioner’s counsel, advocate Dnyanada Mahajan, said the Goa government was paying maximum compensation of Rs10 lakh to rape survivors under a similar scheme, whereas in Maharashtra it is limited to Rs3 lakh.
The bench was displeased to note that the District Criminal Injuries Relief and Rehabilitation Board had sanctioned a sum of only Rs2 lakh for the 14-year-old. The judges were irked after assistant government pleader Rebeca Gonsalves said the amount of compensation has been fixed by the board in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the government. She said the amount of Rs2 lakh and not a maximum amount of Rs3 lakh was fixed because the case did not involve an aggravated form of rape.
“What do you mean by aggravated form of rape,” the chief justice sought to know, adding, “Do you want the victims to be killed or their legs to be cut.” The chief justice said the very fact that a 14-year-old has been subjected to rape is enough to treat it as an aggravated form of rape. The judges also rapped the city collector, who is the ex-officio chairman of the district board for fixing the lower amount. “The Collector probably thinks that by doing this he is saving government money and that this (paying compensation to rape victims) is a waste,” the bench said.
The court has now asked the district collector to remain present in court on the next date of hearing.
The 14-year-old from Borivli has approached high court complaining that though she was entitled to financial assistance, medical aid and counselling under Manodharya scheme, she had not got any assistance or help from the government.
According to her petition, in May 2016 the teenager was kidnapped by a man and taken to his brother’s house where she was sexually assaulted. On the basis of the complaint lodged by her mother, the Borivli police on May 5, 2016 booked the suspect for kidnapping and raping the minor under the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
Her petition states that under Manodharya scheme, she was entitled to 50% of the compensation on registration of the first information report and the rest on the filing of the charge sheet. Although the police have filed a charge sheet in July 2016, she had not received any compensation despite appealing to the police.