Nirbhaya fund: SC censures Uttarakhand, West Bengal govts for naming rape victims in affidavits

West Bengal and Uttarakhand had named rape victims in their affidavits while providing details about money disbursed to complainants under the Nirbhaya fund.

india Updated: Mar 27, 2018 23:44 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Nirbhaya fund,Rape victim,West Bengal
A view of Supreme Court in New Delhi.(Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)

The Supreme Court expressed shock on Tuesday when it learnt that Uttarakhand and West Bengal governments had named rape victims in their affidavits while providing details about money disbursed to complainants under the Nirbhaya fund.

This fund is a central scheme initiated after the brutal gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old paramedical student in New Delhi on December 16, 2012.

“Don’t you know that it’s a criminal offence to name rape victims? Are you just peons?” the top court asked lawyers of the two states during a hearing of a petition for a victim compensation scheme in cases of offences against women.

The lawyers responded that state officials had prepared the affidavits.

A bench of justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta summoned the officers who signed the affidavits —Ajay Rautela, additional home secretary of Uttarakhand, and Lalit Kumar Das, joint secretary at the ministry of women and child welfare in West Bengal. They will appear in court after three weeks.

The judges reminded the lawyers that they could be prosecuted for filing such affidavits. “How can you file affidavits without giving any thought or application of mind? This is a very serious offence. There is an earlier judgment of this court that says an advocate-on –record (AOR) will be held responsible for filing incorrect affidavits,” the bench said.

An AOR is a lawyer designated by the top court to officially file documents with the registry in a case.

According to Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code, anyone printing or publishing the name or any details that give away the identity of a rape victim or survivor can face a jail term of two years.

West Bengal gave the names of victims in its affidavit. Uttarakhand disclosed complete details, including names of their fathers, addresses and offences committed against them. Information regarding underage victims was also given in the Uttarakhand affidavit.

“The whole victim protection regime has become vulnerable,” said senior advocate Indira Jaising, the amicus curiae in the case.

The Supreme Court gave more time to Jaising and the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) to prepare a model compensation scheme. It gave the states a final chance to respond to a plan NALSA has put on its website.

UP plan praised

The top court appreciated the Yogi Adityanath-led government in Uttar Pradesh for envisaging a proper format to disburse compensation through the Nirbhaya Fund and asked NALSA to study the model before finalising its scheme on victim compensation.

According to the UP plan, the state gives an interim compensation to the rape victim immediately after an FIR is registered, the court noted. Further, money is disbursed once the charge sheet is filed and a final amount is given on conviction of the guilty.

First Published: Mar 27, 2018 20:38 IST