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Interim Compensation for rape victims


Authored By- Meghana Vuttaradi

Keywords

Victim Compensation, Sexual offense, Section 357

Abstract

Rape is nowadays one of the most widely encountered words. We hear several concerns about sexual atrocities against women, including rape and even some inhumane actions performed against her body, leading to the victim's death.

Introduction:

Rape is specified in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, 1970, and Section 376 deals with the penalty of rape. In Shri Bodhisattwa Gautam v. Miss Subhra Chakraborty[1], the Supreme Court made a surprising statement that, rape is not just a crime against the individual of a woman (victim), it is a crime against society as a whole. It undermines a woman’s entire psyche and drives her through intense interpersonal crises. It is an offense against universal human rights and is, therefore a denial of the most respected fundamental freedoms of the deceased, including the right to life found in Article 21.

Justice for a victim of rape is undeniably necessary for her recovery. This not only emotionally supports the survivor but also allows her to sustain a regular existence in society.

Relevant Statutory Provision

The purpose of Section 357 of the Criminal Procedure Code is to offer justice to victims of crime. Still, despite this, the majority of the trial courts have not exercised their discretion to grant restitution to the claimant. Section 357 was insufficient, as it was unable to take care of all the victims of the crime. Compensation is given under this provision only after the prosecution has finished. The legislature then interfered and created a subsection, i.e., 357A section.

An update to the Code of Criminal Procedure was adopted in 2008, adding Section 357A into the code. Before the law, the critical clause concerned with victims' benefits was Section 357, according to which the defendant's benefits had to be paid out on the condition of a successful prosecution. The State was under no responsibility under Section 357 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to pay the injured, which was a significant flaw. Section 357A was, however, a progressive step towards strengthening the victims' difficulties. This provision held the State under responsibility for compensating the victim or his / her dependents who suffered from the crime. Section 357A requires each state government to plan a Victim Compensation Scheme in collaboration with the central government. The survivor of a crime or his / her dependents will be entitled to seek liability for their loss/injury under this program. The court hearing the victim's lawsuit will refer to his or her case for restitution to the District Legal Support Authority or the State Legal Service Authority. The authorities shall award compensation to the applicant in compliance with the framework in place in their jurisdiction. Another way is, Section 357(4) requires the survivor to immediately obtain restitution from the District Legal Service Authority or the State Legal Service Authority by filing a report to them. For victims of a crime where the perpetrator is not tracked or known, this is a beneficial rule. It encourages the victims to seek compensated in situations where prosecution has not taken place.

In cases where the reward granted to the claimant under Section 357 is insufficient for recovery or where cases result in acquittal or release, this section also empowers the trial court to recommend reward under the law. Under this provision, in addition to granting restitution to the claimant, the District Legal Service Authority or the State Legal Service Authority must either offer emergency or first aid services or other temporary relief, as may be required.

A new approach to victimology was introduced in the 2008 change where a victim of a crime has the right to be rehabilitated and paid regardless of the active prosecution and recognition of the offender.

A Brief Analysis of different victim compensation schemes

Since the 2008 amendment, nearly all states have come up with their victim compensation program. The victim compensation schemes for Odisha and Meghalaya, however, not only seek to provide the victim with financial aid, but also to provide social services for the victim. This is a vital move in the case of victims of rape whose lives can come to a halt after the horrific event. Utilizing the education offered by the state, these social programs will allow the woman to start her life again. To extend the scope of protection provided under the schemes, victim recovery schemes in other states could have a similar function in their schemes.

Madhya Pradesh Victim Compensation Scheme provides the creation in each State of two commissions at the State and District level to oversee the Victim Compensation System. The Delhi Victim Compensation Scheme, 2015, allows the authority to offer a reasoned order by setting out in writing the conditions of refusal while refusing compensation.

In their victim justice programs, some states such as Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Goa and Karnataka also list grounds for denial, exclusion or reduction of payments. Most of them are:

1. Furnishing fake evidence

2. Failure to record the offence

3. Failure of police/authority coordination

4. Failure to give DLSA / SLSA appropriate assistance

5. The victim's evidence and conditions make him or her ineligible for reimbursement, etc.


Most of the above reasons for denial tend to be valid, but refusing the appeal for the victim's inability to provide the authority with appropriate assistance is not rational, especially for victims of violent crimes such as rape.

Each state has its own set of requirements for qualifications and restrictive clauses. Initially, under the Victim Protection Programs, the amount of compensation determined by the states suggested a lot of differences. In Tekan Alias Tekram v. the State of M.P[2], the Supreme Court also took notice of this disparity, in which it was found that there was an immense degree of disparity in the amount of reimbursement in the case of rape determined by the States under their Victim Compensation Schemes. The Honourable Court went forward and compared the amount of money given to a survivor of rape by various jurisdictions. By noting how the victim compensation scheme in Jharkhand offered a maximum of Rs.20,000 as compensation to victims of cases of rape, the Court highlighted this difference, while the victim compensation scheme for Goa had set a maximum limit of Rs.10 lakhs for compensation to victims of rape.

The Centre came up with the Core Victim Care Fund Scheme Rules in 2015, taking notice of this disparity in care. A total of Rs. 200 crores from the Nirbhaya Fund was allocated to this program. A common payout of minimum Rs. 3 lakhs for rape for all State Victim Compensation Schemes were set under this Central System. Despite the 2015 recommendations, many states have not properly modified their victim compensation program.

Central victim compensation scheme

In 2012, the Honourable Supreme Court ordered NALSA to set up a committee to frame the Model Rules for Victim Justice for Sexual Offences and Acid Attacks in the case of Nipun Saxena vs. Union of India[3]. The 'Compensation Plan for Survivors of Sexual Assault / Other Abuse' was then finalized by NALSA, which obtained the sanction of the Supreme Court in 2018. This was a remarkable move and it formed the basis for an extension to an existing state payout scheme expressly tailored for victims of sexual harassment and acid attacks. By sharing the hard and soft copy of the FIR with the SLSA / DSLA, it mandates the police to record the crimes protected by this system. It also makes it possible for SLSA / DLSA to begin a preliminary verification of the evidence for the awarding of conditional compensation to claimants. It also allows for compulsory payout clauses in eligible situations that can range from Rs. 5,000-10,000. As determined by the National Victim Care Fund Scheme Rules, it has further raised the minimum compensation amount for rape cases. The minimum punishment for rape offences is Rs. 4 lakhs, while it is Rs. 5 lakhs for gang rape.

Conclusion

We can see the inconsistency and uncertainty in the protocols adopted by them in view of the few rules of the various State Victim Compensation Schemes. Apart from this imbalance, there is a significant lack of knowledge about these systems in society. On average in a year, only 1448 rape victims obtained payments out of the 21,590 FIR on rapes. This is a surprising statistic provided that not even 10% of the victims of rape are being compensated. These numbers show that there is a dire need to reform the current compensation policy for rape victims. With cases of rape increasing annually, India needs a designated national authority to track and enforce victim justice program for victims of sexual crimes.

[1] 1996 AIR 922, 1996 SCC (1) 490 [2] CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 884 OF 2015 [3] W.P. (Crl.) No. 1 of 2013 References:

1. https://criminallawstudiesnluj.wordpress.com/2019/08/30/compensation-to-rape-victims-a-critical-analysis/amp/

2. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/duty-of-special-court-to-award-interim-compensation-in-pocso-cases-says-hc/article31841684.ece/amp/

3.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/287879357_Compensation_and_rehabilitation_of_rape_survivors_a_constitutional_right