NALSA to Supreme Court: 5-10 per cent sexual assault victims get compensation

In a “startling” revelation, the Supreme Court was today told that hardly 5-10 per cent sexual assault victims across the country were getting compensation under the relevant schemes in various states.

The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) told a bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta that as per the available data of Andhra Pradesh, out of 901 cases lodged last year, only one victim has received compensation.

“The data of state legal services authority of the states on utilisation of fund have been compiled. Hardly 5-10 per cent victims (of sexual assault) are able to get compensation. It is startling. In Andhra Pradesh, 901 cases were registered (in 2017), but only one victim got compensation. At the outer limit, maximum 10 per cent victims were getting compensation,” S S Rathi, Director of NALSA, told the bench.

As per the NALSA data, in 2016, 840 such cases were lodged in Andhra Pradesh but only eight victims got compensation. Out of 1,028 cases registered in 2017 under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in the state, only 11 victims got compensated.

Similarly in Rajasthan, 3,305 such FIRs were registered in 2017 and 140 victims had received compensation under these schemes, while in Bihar, 1,199 FIRs of sexual assaults were lodged in the 2017 but only 82 victims were compensated, the data showed.

The complete data would soon be filed in the supreme court, he said.

During the hearing, senior advocate Indira Jaising, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae, referred to the victim compensation scheme proposed by the NALSA for the victims of sexual assaults and said they wanted to have two “vital additions” in the scheme, the funds for which was earlier shared with the Centre.

Jaising said the police must mandatorily inform the legal services authority of the state government about the lodging of FIRs in sexual assault cases so that the process of giving compensation to the victim can be expedited.

She said that suo motu (on its own) power should also be given to the legal services authority to grant compensation to the victims, as was already being done in Delhi.

The bench, on hearing the brief submissions, said it would pass directions on May 10 with regard to compensation scheme for victims and survivors of sexual assaults.

The apex court said it would consider in July the issues related to section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which deals with disclosure of identity of victims of sexual offences and utilisation of Nirbhaya Fund by the states.

Nirbhaya Fund was announced by the Centre in 2013 after the December 16, 2012 gangrape and murder case in Delhi to support the initiatives on women’s safety across the country.

The top court had earlier observed that nothing would materialise if money from the Nirbhaya fund was not properly spent on women’s welfare. It had said there was no lack of funds under the scheme but the issue was of proper utilisation.

Earlier, the Centre had told the apex court that it was finding it difficult to get the cooperation of states on the issue relating to disbursal of compensation to the victims of sexual assault under the Nirbhaya scheme.

Several petitions were filed in the Supreme Court after the December 16, 2012 incident in Delhi raising concerns over safety and security of women. All the petitions were tagged by the apex court and several directions have been issued from time to time in this regard.

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