Supreme Court okays compensation scheme for sexual assault, acid attack victims
A victim of gangrape in any part of the country would now get a minimum compensation of Rs five lakh up to a maximum of Rs 10 lakh.
This is part of a scheme proposed by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) on compensating the victims of sexual assaults and acid attacks, which was approved on Friday by the Supreme Court, which directed that it would be applicable across the country.
As per the ‘Compensation Scheme for Women Victims/Survivors of Sexual Assault/Other Crimes-2018’, in case of rape and unnatural sexual assault, the victim would get a minimum of Rs four lakh and maximum of Rs seven lakh as compensation.
While approving the scheme, a bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said it would be applicable pan-India and the states and Union Territories would be free to give compensation over and above what was stipulated in the scheme.
“We make it clear that the scheme prepared by the NALSA will not preclude the states and union territories from giving more compensation....we direct that the scheme be implemented in all states and union territories,” the bench said.
The scheme says that victim of acid attacks, in case of disfigurement of face, would get a minimum compensation of Rs 7 lakh, while the upper limit would be Rs 8 lakh.
In an acid attack cases, if the injury is more than 50%, a minimum compensation of Rs five lakh would be given, while the maximum would be Rs eight lakh.
Similarly, the scheme also provides for compensation amount in cases of acid attacks where the injury is less than 50% and 20% respectively.
Victims of burning cases would get a minimum compensation of Rs 7 lakh and maximum of Rs 8 lakh in case of disfigurement, the scheme said.
It said that in case of pregnancy on account of rape, the victim would get a compensation ranging from Rs three lakh to Rs four lakh, while for miscarriage or loss of fertility due to such assaults, the victim would get Rs two lakh to Rs three lakh.
During the hearing, NALSA director SS Rathi told the court that they had revised the scheme as per the suggestions given by the top court and it was uploaded on their website.
He said that states, union territories and other stakeholders were asked to give their suggestions on the draft scheme and they have incorporated 14 such suggestions received from various quarters.
Rathi said that the court’s suggestion about recovery of compensation in matters where the cases were found to be false was also taken care of in the scheme.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, assisting the court as an amicus curiae, told the bench that so far only nine states have received the money under the Nirbhaya Fund and claimed that the Centre was sitting on the funds under the scheme.
Additional solicitor general Pinky Anand, appearing for the Centre, said the Centre had disbursed Rs 920 crore under the Nirbhaya Fund.
Nirbhaya Fund was announced by the Centre in 2013 after the December 16, 2012 gangrape and murder case in Delhi to support the initiatives on women’s safety across the country.
The bench, however, said it would deal with the issue of the Nirbhaya Fund in July.
The NALSA had earlier told the court that the legal services authority should be given power on its own to grant compensation to such victims and there should be mandatory reporting of cases of sexual assaults and acid attacks.
It had told the court that hardly 5-10% sexual assault victims across the country were getting compensation under the relevant schemes in various states.
The apex court had said it would consider in July the issues related to section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which deals with disclosure of identity of victims of sexual offences and utilisation of Nirbhaya Fund by states.
Earlier, the Centre had told the apex court that it was finding it difficult to get the cooperation of states on the issue relating to disbursal of compensation to the victims of sexual assault under the Nirbhaya scheme.
Several petitions were filed in the Supreme Court after the December 16, 2012 incident in Delhi raising concerns over safety and security of women. All the petitions were tagged by the apex court and several directions have been issued from time to time in this regard.