Nirbhaya fund not enough, frame natl compensation policy: Supreme Court

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New Delhi | May 26, 2016 7:38 PM

The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to formulate a national policy for providing adequate reliefs to rape survivors as setting up of a separate fund...

The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to formulate a national policy for providing adequate reliefs to rape survivors as setting up of a separate fund like the ‘Nirbhaya fund’ was not enough and amounted to “just a lip service”.

“Different states have different schemes. There is no national plan as how the rape victims are to be compensated. Setting up of the Nirbhaya Fund is not enough and it is just paying a lip service. The Union of India must ensure that adequate relief is being provided to the victims of sexual offences,” a vacation bench of Justices P C Pant and D Y Chandrachud said.

The bench also issued notice to the Centre, all states and Union Territories and sought their responses on the effective implementation of Section 357(A) of the CrPC and status of victim compensation schemes, alongwith the number of victims of rape who have been compensated.

During the hearing on a batch of petitions, senior advocate Indira Jaising, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae, said that the implementation of the “Victim Compensation Scheme” is a matter of concern as only 25, out of 29 states, have notified the scheme.

“There is complete lack of uniformity in the said schemes and the States have not yet indicated whether appropriate funds have been allocated in pursuance to the notification of the said schemes, as well as the number of rape victims that have been compensated under the said schemes,” she said adding that some states pay Rs 10 lakh as compensation while few others pay as less as Rs 50,000 to such survivors.

The bench, while prima facie agreeing to the plea that there was lack of uniformity in such schemes, said that there are some states, which even provide compensation to victims of sexual offences just on registration of the FIRs.

“Some states even provide interim compensation to sexual offence victims of particular class just on registration of FIR. Delhi has different scheme, UP has different. There has to be some national model on this,” the bench observed.

Six petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court between 2012-2013 after the Nirbhaya gangrape in Delhi on December 16, 2012 raising various concerns on safety and security of women.

All the petitions were tagged by the apex court and several directions have been passed from time to time in this regard.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising said Delhi’s scheme of victim compensation is a model scheme which could be replicated in other states also.

“There is no provision of interim compensation while in scheme being implemented in Delhi has a provision to do so. It is a model scheme which could be replicated in other states also,” she said.

The senior advocate who was appointed amicus curiae in the case last year said that it was suggested by various petitioners that a national register for sexual offenders should be maintained but in her point of view it was not desirable as it will affect the right of privacy.

She said that there were some suggestions in various petitions which needs to be referred to law commission for further study comparing with the practices in other countries.

Jaising also sought implementation of Witness Protection Program Schemes saying that in most of the rape case the acquittal rate is very high.

“The rate of acquittal in rape cases is very high. It is due to for two reasons one is witnesses turning hostile and the second is delay in trial due to which witnesses looses their interest in cases. There is urgent need to have a witness protection scheme like it is in Delhi to protect the witnesses,” she said.

Jaising also raised concerns on various other issues like setting up of one stop crisis centres in every district for rape survivors saying only 14 districts out of 653 disricts have so far complied with the scheme.

She also highlighted lack of data on the buses plying on All India Tourist Vehicle Permits and absence of regulations on vehicles plying with tinted glass.

To this the bench said some laws and regulations have been framed under which the issue of tinted glass has been taken care of.

Jaising also raised the issue of regulation of radio taxi operators and web based taxi aggregator companies, saying that there is inadequate data available as how these services are being regulated in most states.

“This is of utmost important since many women use these taxi services and there have been repeated reports of molestation and instances of sexual assault by drivers employed by these companies.

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