Indira Jaising (Source)
Indira Jaising (Source)

Compensation to rape victims: Supreme Court issues notice to States in Amicus Indira Jaising’s plea

Smrithi Suresh

The Supreme Court today issued notice to all States and Union Territories in an application filed by Senior Advocate Indira Jaising seeking information about compensation given to rape victims.

A Bench of Justices PC Pant and DY Chandrachud asked the States to furnish details about the measures undertaken by them pursuant to victim compensation schemes framed under Section 357A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC).

The Court was hearing a batch of petitions filed in the aftermath of the December 16 Delhi gang-rape, challenging the Constitutional validity of two finger test. Jaising, who is an amicus curiae in the case, had earlier submitted a report recommending criminalisation of marital rape.

When the matter was taken up for hearing today, Jaising submitted that she has moved an interim application in the case seeking information regarding victim compensation schemes, witness protections schemes and compensation awarded to rape victims.

Jaising also submitted that the policies employed in various countries like USA, South Africa, England etc. have been highlighted in the application to draw parallels as to how these countries tackled similar issues.

Outlining the disparities inherent in the dispensation of compensation to victims, Jaising argued that there is neither uniformity in the fixation of compensation among states nor a settled mechanism for uniform disbursement of money.

“In such cases there is still a wide range of discretion left to the judge and these petitions have been filed targeting that realm of discretion. The petitions seek directions on how to exercise this discretion”, she submitted.

This prompted an interesting remark by the Bench when Justice Chandrachud said that what a national model ‘covering the issue’ was desirable so that it is not left to each state to formulate its own Scheme under Section 357A.

The broad prayers made in the interim application are:-

a) State Governments & Union Territories should be directed to furnish information about budgetary allocation for the implementation of the Schemes under Section 357A of CrPC.

b) They should make available information of those rape victims who have received compensation under the said Victim Compensation Schemes, along with the quantum of compensation received by them.

c) States & UTs should be directed to furnish information on the status of Witness Protection Program Schemes including information on the number of cases where Witness protection has been extended.

d) The  Ministry of Women and Child Development of Government of India should be directed to furnish information on the status of the establishment of One Stop Crisis Centers (OSCC) in the Country, the number of functional OSCC’s and the number of cases dealt by these Centers.

e) Union Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways should be directed to give a list of total number of buses that are plying under the All India Tourist Permit, along with information on the permit conditions of such vehicles.

f) The Transport Ministry should be directed to furnish details as to the manner in which radio taxi and taxi aggregator companies are being regulated.

The Court issued notice to all States and Union Territories. The matter will now be taken up after 6 weeks.

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