SC asks states to increase rape victim compensation
The Apex court has asked states to frame a uniform policy for compensation to victims of rape and sexual exploitation. Referring to the Goa government scheme which provides compensation upto Rs.10 lakhs, the Supreme Court directed other states/UTs to formulate a uniform policy for "compensation in respect of rape/sexual exploitation", especially for physically handicapped women. SC also called for introspection of Victim Compensation Scheme.
What is the Victim Compensation Scheme?
Victim Compensation Scheme(VCF) was started in 2008 to provide compensation to victims under Section 357A of the Criminal Procedure Code(CrPC). However, there were certain issues with it. The minimum limit of compensation was set by the district/states and even the maximum limit was very low and did not fulfil the purpose. The interim compensation was also not given in the absence of published rules.
Problem with current mechanism
Presently, different states provide different compensation as per their discretion to the victims of rape and sexual harassment. There is a complete lack of uniform compensation policy in this matter. While Goa pays a compensation of Rs.10 lakhs, Arunachal Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh pay a meagre compensation of Rs.50,000, and Maharashtra does not pay any compensation at all.
Govt sets up victim compensation fund
The Central Government had started a Central Victim Compensation Fund (CVCF) Scheme to provide support to victims of rape, acid attacks, human trafficking, and women injured/killed in cross-border firing. The Rs.200 crores corpus would provide a compensation of Rs.3 lakhs to the acid attack/rape victims. This scheme would supplement the existing Victim Compensation Scheme of States/UTs to reduce disparities in compensation between different states.
Nirbhaya fund to provide for compensation
The Rs.200 crore corpus would be funded through a one-time budgetary grant from the Nirbhaya Fund which was created after the Delhi gang rape in 2012, for tackling crime against women.
Background of the verdict
The Supreme Court was adjudicating a case involving rape of a blind woman from Chhattisgarh. SC refused to stay the orders of Chhattisgarh High Court in which the convict was sentenced to seven years of rigorous imprisonment.
Compensation cannot restore dignity
The Apex court said that any amount of money can neither bring back the dignity and confidence nor remove the trauma and grief of victims. However, compensation can help in rehabilitation in the "aftermath of crime" to some extent. It noted that a uniform scheme is also required because after suffering gravely, it's not always possible for the victim to approach the women's commission.