SC directs Centre to formulate National Policy for proper rehabilitation of rape survivors

SC directs Centre to formulate National Policy for proper rehabilitation of rape survivors

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Centre to formulate a national policy for proper rehabilitation of rape survivors, opining that setting up of a separate fund like the Rs 2,000 crore ‘Nirbhaya fund’ was not enough and amounted to “just a lip service”.

Vacation Bench of the Court comprising Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice P.C. Pant hence issued notices to the Centre, all States and Union Territories, demanding their response within six weeks, on the effective implementation of Section 357(A) of the CrPC and status of victim compensation schemes, along with the number of victims of rape who have been compensated.

The Bench further expressed disappointment over the non-uniformity of compensation schemes in different States, and emphasised on the need for a national plan to ensure that adequate relief is being provided to the victims of sexual offences.

Former Additional Solicitor General and Senior Advocate Ms. Indira Jaising, who is assisting the Court as Amicus Curiae, submitted before the Court that the implementation of the “Victim Compensation Scheme” is a matter of concern as only 25, out of 29 states, have notified the scheme. She further brought to the notice of the court that while some States pay Rs. 10 lakh as compensation, few others pay as less as Rs 50,000 to the survivors.

“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 was quoted as saying. The Court also took note of the fact that some States even provide interim compensation to sexual offence victims of particular class merely on registration of the FIR.

Ms. Jaising informed the Bench that as per the Nirbhaya scheme, as many as 653 one-stop crisis centres were supposed to be set up in all States. However, no information on this aspect has been furnished by the States.

She further drew the Court’s attention to the requirement of a regulatory mechanism for the application-based taxi service providers such as Uber and Ola across the country to effectively check sexual crimes. The need for proper implementation of the existing laws such as the ban on the use of tinted glasses in vehicles was also emphasised upon.

Furthermore, Ms. Jaising submitted to the Court various RTI replies, questioning the status of States which had a victim compensation scheme in place and number of cases where the compensation had been given by each state.

States, including Tripura, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Assam and Jharkhand were among states where a victim compensation scheme was in place while states such as Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh were among others, which do not currently have their own scheme. Apart from this, there were seven cases where compensation had been granted in Delhi, three in Karnataka, and one in Rajasthan, RTI applications revealed.

The Court is hearing a bunch of petitions which were filed between 2012-2013 after the Nirbhaya gangrape in Delhi on December 16, 2012 raising various concerns on safety and security of women.

The Nirbhaya Fund was the introduced in the 2013 budget speech by the then Finance Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram. The Nirbhaya Fund was expected to support initiatives by different NGOs and the government in protecting the dignity and ensuring safety of women in India.