Date: Thursday, September 6, 2018
In a significant decision, the Supreme Court today approved National Legal Services Authority’s compensation scheme for women victims/ survivors of sexual assault/other crimes-2018 as per which the minimum compensation should be Rs four lakh and said it will also extend to minor victims till a government scheme in accordance with POCSO is framed.
This came in the PIL filed after the Nirbhaya case seeking immediate compensation for victims of sexual assault. The judges, state can order higher compensation but it cannot be lesser that what has been suggested by NALSA.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur, Deepak Gupta and S Abdul Nazeer while pronouncing orders in Nipun Saxena matter after accepting all suggestions put forwarded by amicus curiae Indira Jaising said the scheme and guidelines should be made operational from October 2.
On suggestion from Jaising, the bench directed all High Courts to give wide publicity to the order including on Doordarshan and AIR.
As per the order, judges will have inherent powers to order compensation to victims of sexual assault along with punishment to the convict.
“The trial court may in appropriate cases on its own order interim compensation for immediate need of the child. The payment of compensation will be gender neutral. NALSA compensation scheme may function as a guideline until rules are framed by the central government. Scheme and guidelines to be
operational from October 2. There will be no upper limit for payment of compensation”, said the order.
WHAT DOES NALSA RECOMMEND?
As per the National Legal Services Authority’s compensation scheme for women victims/ survivors of sexual assault/other crimes-2018, in case of loss of life NALSA scheme recommended minimum compensation Rs 5 lakh, upper limit Rs 10 lakh. For gang rape minimum Rs5 lakh, upper limit Rs 10 lakh, For rape minimum compensation Rs four lakh upper limit Rs seven lakh, For unnatural sexual assault minimum Rs four lakh and upper limit Rs 5 lakh
During an earlier hearing, the court felt such a scheme was essential as there was no rules and format for payment for compensation.
NALSA had also said just 5 to 10% of rape and other types of sexual assault victims were getting compensation under the Nirbhaya and other such schemes Referring to the figures of Andhra Pradesh, S S Rathi, Director of NALSA had told the bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta that out of 901 cases lodged last year, only one victim has received compensation.
As per the NALSA data out of 1,028 cases registered in 2017 under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in the state, only 11 victims got compensated.
Rajasthan: 3,305 FIRs registered in 2017 and only 140 victims received compensation under these schemes.
Bihar: 1,199 FIRs of sexual assaults lodged in 2017 but only 82 victims were compensated.
Rathi said a detailed report regarding other states will be filed soon.
During the hearing, senior advocate Indira Jaising, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae, referred to the victim compensation scheme proposed by the NALSA for the victims of sexual assaults and said they wanted to have two vital additions in the scheme, the funds for which was earlier shared with the Centre.
Jaising had said the police must mandatorily inform the legal services authority of the state government about the lodging of FIRs in sexual assault cases so that the process of giving compensation to the victim can be expedited.
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