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Supreme Court tells Bengal govt to pay Rs 5 lakh to Birbhum gang-rape victim

New Delhi, Mar 28 (PTI): The Supreme Court on Friday directed the West Bengal government to pay Rs 5 lakh compensation to the 20-year-old Birbhum gangrape victim, in addition to already sanctioned Rs 50,000.

A bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justices S A Bobde and N V Ramana also said the state government has failed to protect the fundamental right of the victim, a young tribal woman who was gang-raped allegedly by 13 villagers in Birbhum district in January this year.

The bench said all states are duty bound to protect the rights of women and that they have freedom of choice in marriage.

On January 31, the apex court had directed the West Bengal Chief Secretary to respond on what action police had taken in the case of gang-rape of the woman allegedly on the orders of a kangaroo court as punishment for falling in love with a man outside her community.

After going through the report of the Chief Secretary, the bench had said the state government had taken steps but more effective action was required to be taken.

The bench had taken suo motu cognisance of the incident on January 24 and had directed the district judge to visit the place and file a report to it.

The victim and her paramour were caught, tied to a tree and assaulted after which they were asked to pay a fine of Rs 50,000. The gang-rape took place after the girl expressed her inability to pay the amount.

The victim and her family members in their complaint before the police had said that among those who brutalised her were people old enough to be her father.

All the accused, including village head (known in the area as 'morol'), have been arrested. The rape allegedly took place inside the morol's house.