A victim of rape could be given financial aid of up to Rs 3 lakh if a criminal injuries board is satisfied, prima facie, that a case exists
The Planning Commission has proposed that financial aid be given to rape victims. It calls such a move ‘restorative justice’.
In a letter to the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Planning Commission says the aid should be given to ‘address the trauma that the affected woman undergoes’.
The amount of compensation suggested is up to Rs 2 lakh or Rs 3 lakh if the girl is a minor or mentally challenged or gets pregnant or infected with HIV following the rape.
In order to administer the scheme, the Planning Commission suggests setting up yet another layer of bureaucracy -- the District Criminal Injuries Relief and Rehabilitation Board, chaired by the district magistrate -- in all districts. A state-level board will monitor the activities of the district boards.
To avail of the aid, an FIR must first be filed. Within 60 days of it being filed, the woman or someone assisting her must file an application for financial assistance.
The station house officer of the police station concerned must forward, within 72 hours, a copy of the FIR along with the medical report and preliminary investigation report to the district board. If the district board is satisfied that a case exists, prima facie, it can sanction Rs 20,000 to be disbursed within 15 days. It may also sanction up to Rs 50,000 for support services to the victim.
The scheme will not prevent a woman from seeking relief from the courts under Section 357 of the CrPC that deals with rape.
The need for compensation was felt way back in 1995 when the Delhi Domestic Working Women’s Forum filed a public interest litigation in this regard. The Supreme Court had then held that Criminal Injuries Compensation Boards be set up in states to award compensation to victims who do not otherwise claim it.
While there currently is provision for the victim to move a civil court for payment of “damages” for the injury caused to her, lawyers say most rape victims do not do this as they do not want to go through the agony of another trial.
Trial courts are also empowered to award compensation, including interim compensation pending trial, to victims. In Dinesh vs the State of Rajasthan, the Supreme Court upheld the compensation order of Rs 50,000, apart from the minimum prison sentence. What the Planning Commission is suggesting is that the assistance be given without having to go to court to claim it.
Source: The Indian Express, April 5, 2011
www.telegraphindia.com, March 23, 2011