A child born out of rape is entitled to compensation, independent of any such relief granted to the mother, the Delhi High Court has ruled. The verdict to this effect, in which a man has been sent to jail for his entire “natural life” for raping his minor step-daughter, was delivered after the court noted that there was no such provision under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act or under the Delhi government’s victim compensation scheme.
Ironically, the high court, which had earlier laid down a law in this regard, reduced the amount of compensation to the rape victim from Rs 15 lakh awarded by the trial court to Rs 7.5 lakh, saying the higher amount went against the 2011 compensation scheme formulated by the Delhi government.
It also faulted the trial court by giving a go-by to the guidelines for maintaining confidentiality of the rape victim.
However, a bench of Justices Gita Mittal and R K Gauba said a child born out of rape, either of a minor or a woman who is an adult, “is clearly a victim of the act of the offender and entitled to compensation independent of the amount of compensation paid to his/her mother”.
This “vacuum” in the law came to the court’s attention when it was hearing the appeal of a man convicted and awarded life term for raping his minor step-daughter who, as a result of the crime, gave birth at the tender age of 14 years.
Noting the “sordid scenario” in the instant case, where “the trust and confidence reposed in the man by his wife and step-daughter, was abused by him to bring about, out of sheer
lust, untold miseries on the body, mind and psyche of the prosecutrix child leaving scars which would not ever heal”, the court upheld his conviction and sentence.
It also clarified that the man shall remain behind bars for the remainder of his natural life, saying “we see no scope for any ruth (pity) in the matter of punishment”.
While upholding the sentence, the bench also expressed displeasure over the manner in which the trial court “gave a go-by” to the precaution mandated under POCSO to keep the minor victim’s identity confidential.
The high court also reiterated its earlier direction to all trial courts not to disclose the identity of minor victims in POCSO cases.
Apart from the lack of provisions under the POCSO Rules and the Delhi Victims Compensation Scheme 2011 for children born out of rape, the court noted the absence of any provision in the scheme for child victims of sexual offences.
It also observed that no victim compensation fund has been set up under the 2011 scheme despite directions in this regard by the high court in a PIL.
The high court noted this while examining how the trial court awarded a compensation of Rs 15 lakh to the victim.
The bench said under the existing scheme, the maximum compensation that can be paid was Rs three lakh and under the proposed new scheme of 2015, it would be enhanced to Rs 7.5 lakh.
Setting aside the compensation awarded by the trial court, the bench awarded a total amount of Rs 7.5 lakh to the victim, saying “given the nature of loss, pain and suffering which she undoubtedly would have undergone, we find this to be a fit case where the state must pay compensation for the minimum sum of Rs 7.5 lakh (which would be the compensation awardable under the proposed scheme of 2015, as and when brought in force)”.