The Bombay high court on Monday asked the Maharashtra government to explain the delay in deciding whether the benefits of its rehabilitation schemes meant for survivors of rape and child abuse can be applied with retrospective effect in certain deserving cases.
A bench of justices Ranjit More and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi said the state had assured it several times during past hearings that it would look into expanding the scope of the Maharashtra Victim Compensation Scheme, 2014, but had failed to take any concrete steps.
The bench also observed that during the last hearing — on December 5 last year — the state government had sought time, claiming that “the proposal to suitably amend the scheme, so as to make it applicable retrospectively, was under consideration before the state cabinet.” The state had also placed a letter from the home department on record, which affirmed this. However, on Monday, the state said the cabinet was yet to make a decision. It sought an extension, saying the concerned government official was unavailable.
The bench then asked the government if it had made a false statement when it claimed that the proposal was pending the cabinet’s approval. “Either you were making a false statement then, or you are doing so today. Please tell us what the reason for such inaction is,” the bench said.
The issue has been pending since 2014, owing to the state’s non-committal approach. The petitioners had sought that the scheme be applied retrospectively to aid survivors of rape, acid attacks or sexual abuse, who are poor and cannot afford medical treatment and counselling.
Currently, those eligible under the scheme are given monetary compensation and are helped with legal aid, counselling, and rehabilitation.
The high court scheduled the matter for hearing on Tuesday.