|A woman and a child hold a placard during a protest in Mumbai against the December 16 gang rape. File picture
New Delhi, Sept. 3: The Centre initiated a scheme three years ago under which every rape victim is legally entitled to a compensation of at least Rs 1.5 lakh, but no relief has yet been disbursed in the absence of Planning Commission clearance.
Since 2010, the government has been religiously allocating money for the scheme, which frees rape survivors from having to depend for relief on trial court directives or state government discretion. (See chart)
The corpus has reached Rs 211 crore but not a paisa has been utilised in the past three years, during which rapes increased by 10 per cent in the country.
Sources said the government envisaged the Relief to and Rehabilitation of Rape Victims Scheme as a centrally sponsored one where the states, who have to implement it, and the Centre contribute equally.
However, they added, the plan panel is insisting the scheme be implemented as an “additional central assistance scheme” where the financial onus lies solely on the states apart from a one-time assistance from the Centre.
“The Planning Commission supports the scheme wholeheartedly but has reservations over the funding. We don’t want this to be just another central scheme with the money stuck at the Centre,” a plan panel member, who didn’t want to be named, told The Telegraph.
“The states would be better positioned to disburse these funds as and when cases come up in their courts. We are hoping to iron out the problems and roll out the scheme as soon as possible.”
National Crimes Record Bureau figures show that nearly 25,000 rapes were registered in the country last year. Taking Rs 2 lakh as the average relief, some Rs 500 crore would be needed every year to compensate rape victims under the scheme.
On the ground
Currently, rape victims have two avenues of relief. One is Section 357A of the Criminal Procedure Code, which provides for compensation to all victims of violence, including rape.
Under this provision, started in 2011, the trial court decides whether and how much relief should be paid and who — the state or the convicted rapist — should pay it.
Alternatively, the state government may come forward and provide compensation, medical aid and even a job — which they tend to do only in high-profile cases.
Unlike the proposed central scheme, neither of the existing avenues allows the victim to claim a legal entitlement to relief.
In Bengal, the Mamata Banerjee government has drawn up a compensation scheme for victims of rapes, acid attacks and trafficking but the sum is lower than that offered under the proposed central scheme.
The Bengal government provides Rs 30,000 to minor rape victims and Rs 20,000 to adult victims. Additional compensation is paid for any damage to limbs. If a victim dies because of the sexual assault, her family receives Rs 2 lakh.
When the central scheme was envisaged in 2010, the compensation was fixed at Rs 3 lakh. But the following year, a formula was worked out under which the relief was fixed at Rs 2 lakh for most ordinary cases (with an absolute minimum of Rs 1.5 lakh) and Rs 3 lakh where the victim is a minor, or has died, or her family is extremely poor.
Asked whether tying the compensation to FIR registration and court deposition was not an unfair way of pressuring the victim to come forward and lodge a complaint, National Commission for Women member Charu Wali Khanna denied it.
“This graded compensation shouldn’t be seen as forcing the victim to take a stand but as encouragement for her to come and seek justice. Our job is not just to rehabilitate but ensure that justice is done,” Khanna said.
Rights activists have supported the scheme, citing the need for quick compensation and the poor implementation of Section 357A.
“Most rape victims have no money; they cannot meet their health requirements, let alone be part of the legal battle,” said Jagmati Sangwan, general secretary of the All-India Democratic Women’s Association.
Rishi Kant, a rights activist, said: “Section 357A was introduced in 2011 and notified in around 18 states. It was introduced so that every victim of violence could get some monetary help. However, there is hardly any state in the country where there is awareness about such a provision.”
He added: “Over the past three years, not one of the 300 trafficked or raped girls we have rescued has received any compensation, either from the state or under Section 357A.”
But he warned that the ministry scheme could remain just on paper unless the police, local administration, lawyers and judges were made aware of it.
“There have been instances where we have asked for compensation and it has gone against the victim, with the defence lawyer saying the victim was lying to lay her hand on the money,” Kant said.
“On the ground, the situation is getting worse by the day. We fight with the police every day over compensation matters.”
The scheme, envisaged after a Supreme Court directive in 1995, was first drafted by the National Commission for Women in 2005 and sent to the Union women and child development ministry.
The ministry sat on it till July 2010 before sending it for approval to the finance ministry’s expenditure finance committee, which gave its nod three months later. It was then sent to the plan panel in late 2010.
According to a comptroller and auditor general report presented in Parliament last month, the allocations made under the scheme in the past three years have been Rs 53.10 crore in 2010-2011, Rs 36 crore in 2011-12 and Rs 122 crore in 2012-2013.
COMPLAIN, DEPOSE, GET COMPENSATION
What does the
proposed scheme say?
It entitles every rape victim to compensation between Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 3 lakh, depending on her
Don’t rape victims
receive compensation now?
Very few do. They receive relief if (a) the trial court
orders the state
government or the
convicted rapist to give
the victim a certain sum decided by the court, or
(b) if the state government on its own decides to give some compensation.
These amounts are
usually lower than what the proposed scheme
offers, and take longer
to be disbursed
Who gives the relief under
the proposed scheme?
This is the sticking point that’s
held the scheme up for three years. The Centre wants to share half the burden with the states but the
Planning Commission believes
the states should pay the entire amount.
The compensation will be
disbursed by a rehab board,to be formed in every district
How is the relief disbursed?
First, the victim receives Rs 20,000
on registration of the FIR
nShe might then receive an
ntermediate relief of Rs 50,000 if the
district board decides she needs it
nFinally, she gets Rs 1.3 lakh
after giving evidence in the trial court.
In certain cases — for instance if the
victim is a minor,or has died, or her
family is extremely poor — the last
installment goes up to Rs 2.3 lakh
a victim claim the compensation?
She can apply to the district board, r her relatives
or any NGO
supporting hercan do so on her behalf. A victim
can move court
if she is denied
l When is the scheme likely to be implemented?
“As soon as
are sorted out,
according to a
didn’t wish to