Activists welcome compensation scheme in rape cases

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 11 September 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: There is a ray of hope for rape survivors as the state has finally introduced a compensation scheme, almost two decades after the Supreme Court's directives to do so. "The financial package, howsoever, inadequate to heal the emotional scars the crime causes, would offer a survivor, a helping hand to stand back on her feet," said legal experts.

Women's rights activists are cheering. "The state cabinet's nod to a scheme called Manodhairya Yojana on Wednesday comes at the end of our three year struggle," said advocate Flavia Agnes of the NGO Majlis who said "getting clearance from all departments was the time consuming process that led to the delay." She and other activists like advocates Mihir Desai who had argued in a public interest litigation filed on the need to expedite the process and advocate Asim Sarode, agreed that that the scheme "would be a step forward in helping a survivor cope after the heinous crime and regain some normalcy in her life."

A survivor will now be entitled to get up to Rs 2 lakh and in exceptional cases up to Rs 3 lakh from the government. "The survivor or her family needs to make a claim after the FIR has been filed and hence there ought not to be any delay or wait for a verdict," said Agnes.

In 1995, The Supreme Court of India, in a landmark judgement had clearly stated that the central government in co-ordination with the state govt. shall set up a Criminal Injury Compensation Board. It had also directed that the National Commission for Women and the State Commission for Women shall assist in implementing this scheme. The government had declared a proforma also to be filled in by victims and demand compensation.

"The idea was to assist a survivor with immediate needs such medical care, psychological treatment if required, counseling, legal aid for education and training as well as for shelter. But unfortunately no State Government has actually implemented this scheme," said Sarode of Sahyog Trust, one of the many voluntary groups which has been pushing the government to step up its efforts to kick start the compensation scheme.

The Maharashtra Government was given a deadline to come out with the scheme by the Bombay high court which is hearing a PIL filed by the Federation of Women against Oppression and activist Meena Gopal. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2008 introduced the definition of 'victim' in section 2(wa) of the Code of Criminal Procedure

And Section 357A of the CrPC, inserted in the year 2009 also makes it mandatory for every State Government in co-ordination with the Central Government to prepare a "Victim or survivor Compensation Scheme" for providing compensation to the survivors of crime, or their dependants. The implementation of such a scheme has been cast upon the State and the District Legal Services Committee.

The state's scheme ought to be implemented retrospectively said advocate Sarode, since the 1995 SC judgment.

Activists say since a majority of the rape cases, statistics reveals, occur on women from the economically backward sections of the society, a compensation scheme would offer them necessary support to deal with the trauma.

Activist and lawyer Vijay Hiremath welcoming the state's decision said "a uniform policy" will now have to be followed in all cases of rape. In four decades, the number of reported rape cases had shot up almost 900% and Maharashtra had a dubious distinction of reporting the maximum share--over 15%--in number of incest cases in 2011.

Maharashtra lagged behind 17 states which had set up relief funds in cases of sexual assaults and acid attacks.

The scheme is necessary, said women's activists since rape as an offence assaults the very fundamental right to life with dignity enshrined by the Constitution for every citizen.

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