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Bombay High Court Issues Notice On Plea Challenging Decision To Divest SLSA, DLSA From Awarding Compensation Under Goa Victim Compensation Scheme

Nupur Thapliyal
6 July 2021 12:26 PM GMT
Bombay High Court Issues Notice On Plea Challenging Decision To Divest SLSA, DLSA From Awarding Compensation Under Goa Victim Compensation Scheme
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The Bombay High Court, Goa Bench, has sought response of the Central Government and Goan administration on a plea challenging the amendment made in Goa Victim Compensation Scheme, 2012, divesting the jurisdiction of State and District Legal Service Authorities in deciding and awarding compensation to victims. Filed by an organization namely Scan Goa and its founder through Advocate J....

The Bombay High Court, Goa Bench, has sought response of the Central Government and Goan administration on a plea challenging the amendment made in Goa Victim Compensation Scheme, 2012, divesting the jurisdiction of State and District Legal Service Authorities in deciding and awarding compensation to victims.

Filed by an organization namely Scan Goa and its founder through Advocate J. Ramaiya, the plea additionally challenges Clause 4 of the Scheme by alleging that it discriminates against a victim who has identified the offender and further lays down loss of income as essential criterion for grant of compensation.

A division bench comprising of Justices MS Sonak and MS Jawalkar ordered thus:

"According to us, the issues raised in this petition are required to be considered at the earliest. Accordingly, Rule is issued and the same is made returnable peremptorily on 12/08/2021."

Stating that the petitioners have worked with about 2000 victims and members of their families who seek legal assistance or rehabilitation, the plea avers that they have approached the High Court espousing the cause of victims of abuse, crimes and violence and members of their families who are entitled to compensation and rehabilitation under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and Section 357A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Relying on the 2019 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, it has been submitted that in respect of State of Goa it has been found that out of 140 cases of Child Sexual Abuse and Rape onto minor, in 98.6% cases the accused persons were known to the victim and identified in the course of investigation.

Further claiming that under the mandate of CrPC it is for the District and State Legal Services Authority to assess the entitlement and quantum of compensation, the plea states,

"Under the First Amendment, the Respondent No. 1 (State of Goa) herein omitted any reference to the State or District Legal Services Authority as mandated under the original Compensation Scheme and vested the said powers of assessment of compensation onto the Respondent Nos. 4 (North Goa District Collector) and 5 herein (South Goa District Collector) and Appellate powers onto the Respondent No. 1 itself."

In view of this, the plea states that the impugned amendment is "patently illegal", without jurisdiction and manifestly unjust in as much as it abridges and divest the jurisdictions of the State and District Legal Services Authorities in the State of Goa in assessing and awarding victim compensation from the Victim Compensation Fund.

"That Impugned Notification, illegally and in complete violation of legislative mandate, creates a new forum for assessing and awarding compensation contrary to legislative mandate and defeats the very objective and mandate of Section 357A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973," the plea reads.

Furthermore, it states:

"The Impugned Clause is contrary to the mandate of Section 357A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 in as much as it creates an embargo on victims who have identified the Accused persons and/or have undergone the rigors of Trial, from claiming any assistance and/or compensation under the Goa Victim Compensation Scheme."

The Petitioner has urged the Court to quash and set aside the impugned notification amending the 2012 Scheme and transfer all applications for victim compensation to the concerned District Legal Services Authority for fresh decision. In the interregnum, it is urged that the effect of impugned notification be stayed.

Case Title: Scan Goa Stop Child Abuse Now & Anr. v. State of Goa & Ors.

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