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Rs 10 crore released as trafficking compensation: State tells Calcutta High Court

Counsel for state government tells HC bench that ‘Rs 10 crore has already been disbursed by State to the Judicial Department in July and August 2022’

Debraj Mitra | Published 10.08.22, 06:58 AM
Calcutta High Court.

Calcutta High Court.

File photo

The state government has informed Calcutta High Court that a tranche of Rs 10 crore has been provided in two months to the judicial department for disbursal of compensation to victims of trafficking and other crimes.

The single-judge bench of Justice Moushumi Bhattacharya was on Monday hearing a case of a trafficking survivor who was awarded a compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh in December 2019 but is yet to receive the money. The court is also hearing a batch of similar petitions — from trafficking survivors alleging delay in receiving compensation.


Counsel for the state government told the bench that “Rs 10 crore has already been disbursed by the State to the Judicial Department in July and August 2022”.

The judicial department will send the money to the state legal services authority (SLSA). The SLSA will “disburse the amount to the victims in accordance with the West Bengal Victim Compensation Scheme, 2017”.

The absence of a lawyer representing the SLSA prompted the court to list the matter for hearing on August 31.

On June 26, The Telegraph reported that the high court had directed the Bengal government and the state legal services authority to file reports — within six weeks — on the process of disbursement of compensation to survivors of human trafficking.

Over 30 survivors, from North and South 24-Parganas districts, who have been awarded compensations in various orders since 2019 are yet to receive the money, said rights activists.

The apparent reason cited for the non-disbursal of payment was a lack of funds with the SLSA, the custodians of the corpus created by the government for disbursal of funds under the victim compensation scheme.

On Monday, the judge said the SLSA and the judicial department must be “represented” in the court on August 31. The petitions that have been clubbed will also be heard that day.

“The reports to be filed by SLSA... as directed by an order dated 24.06.2022 in six other writ petitions shall be filed by the returnable day,” the order on Monday said.

“The SLSA and the Judicial Department are directed to indicate on the returnable day as to the status of the disbursement to the petitioners under the said scheme.”

The member-secretary of the SLSA did not take calls from this newspaper. Messages went unanswered.

Pampa Ghosh, a social worker, has been supporting several trafficking survivors who are petitioners in the case. The long delay in getting compensation further alienated the survivors from the judicial system, she said.

“It is extremely frustrating to wait for years for the money. They lose interest in going to court hearings. They get disinvested in the justice delivery system,” said Ghosh, a member of Goranbose Gram Bikash Kendra, an NGO that mentors survivors’ collectives in South 24-Parganas.

Kaushik Gupta, a lawyer who represented the petitioners, said the PILs had forced the state government to disburse the amount. “Paying the compensation is a statutory responsibility of the state,” he said.

“Streamlining of the process is more important than disbursing a one-time amount. What is going to happen when the amount is spent? Will it take another set of petitions for the state to act?” asked Gupta.

Last updated on 10.08.22, 06:58 AM

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