Almost two years since the Centre brought it into force, a legal provision, which provides compensation to victims of crime, has not been implemented in Maharashtra yet. According to senior officials, the home department is still working on the modalities of the scheme and the provision is expected to become effective in the state within a month or two.
Several amendments in the Criminal Procedure Code were cleared by the Parliament in December 2008, which included the addition of section 357 A, which provides for the creation of the Victim Compensation Fund – to compensate victims of crime. The amendments subsequently received the President’s approval, but were notified for implementation only in December 2009, and have become enforceable from January 1, 2010.
However, victims such as a seven-year-old girl from the Govandi slums, are still waiting for implementation of the provision, which provides maximum compensation of Rs2 lakh.
The girl had been sexually assaulted by a shopkeeper.
On January 19, while convicting the shopkeeper, Abdul Latif Sajid Ali Shaikh, 24, additional sessions judge SR Malpani-Pawar recommended her case for compensation through the fund, to the Maharashtra State Legal Aid Services Authority, an implementing agency for the scheme.
“The victim’s loss cannot be compensated merely by awarding a sentence to the accused,” the judge observed. The court recommended her case primarily considering the poor financial condition of her family.
Though the legal provision mandates the legal aid services authority to decide such recommendation within two months of its receipt from the court, six months have passed since the sessions court recommended the case. An official of the authority expressed helplessness in the matter.