VICTIM COMPENSATION FOR RAPE SURVIVOR
from capital punishment for rape to financial compensation to the victims to out of court ‘settlements’ to getting the victim married with the culprit. The woman’s need for dignity of course takes the back seat. Despite an uninterrupted discourse on the subject over the past several decades, governments and society are yet to evolve a cast-iron system to deal with the crime and the criminals.
From the year (1971) the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) began collecting data on rape cases, it has shown an eight-fold increase. In 2008 over 21 thousand complaints were recorded in the country with various agencies conceding that over 80 per cent of the cases never get reported. Incest has shown a 30 per cent increase— these are disturbing social trends, which need to be researched and addressed. This stands in marked contrast to the other serious and violent crimes like murder, robbery, dacoity, kidnapping and rioting. The NCRB has also concluded that only one in 69 rape cases get reported and only 20 per cent of the reported cases result in convictions.
Compensation for rape is not a new idea. Courts have ordered for compensation to be paid under provisions contained in the statutes. Several state governments too have found it convenient to pay sums depending upon the extent of the public outrage and media exposure. But this is the first time the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare has launched a country-wide scheme and has offered to reimburse the state governments the cost they incur in its implementation.
The law also appears to assume unfortunately that standards of dignity are different for a woman from a well- off family and for a dalit woman. So, a dalit woman’s compensation money for rape can be shared by the rapist under the Act. The compensation is paid if the victim belongs to either a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe and the rapist does not. The law does not specify what happens if the woman is from a Scheduled Tribe and the man is from a Scheduled Caste or vice versa. Even before the Act was passed in 1989, since 1978 in UP women from SC and ST were paid compensation of Rs 5000 for rape.
So far, the present law seemingly inadequate and fragmentary in nature, justice seems a distant possibility. The answer could lie in attributing a more active role to the State. It has been suggested that State compensation scheme be introduce, but such be confined to violent crimes only.
The notion of compensation is a sound concept and a society that recognises the responsibility it over to its members is an incentive for law enforcement. But for doing such the very basis and need for compensation has to be considered – is it a right? Or is it to be awarded in extreme need? Should courts prescribe a maximum or minimum award? Should specialized bodies conduct the proceeding? But in compensation settlement the community should not be the end sufferer. Retribution should be within limits, and for such the victim-offender relationship can be studied to bridge the gap between the two. However, the offender should not be the one to gain. Tangible community assistance could dilute. The retaliatory desire of the victim of crime. The victim compensation scheme in India is inefficient and inadequate understanding of different victim compensation scheme of various countries can help in understanding the issues but they are not exactly viable in our own criminal justice mean. Under the Indian Criminal Justice system, offence is regarded as against the state.
So, the victim has to initiate separate suit to recover damages for the wrong that has been committed against him or her. S. 357 of Criminal Procedure Code 1973 though an important provision is applicable only when the accused is convicted and sentenced. Isn’t this a barrier to recover compensation?
Supreme Court’s stand on compensation to rape victim survivor
Victims of sexual assault need a completely different treatment than what is meted out to them by society and state authorities, the Supreme Court has said and ordered all states to implement its 18-year-old directive.
The 1995 judgment of the apex court had directed setting up of Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and said it could take up the task of determining the amount to be paid by the offender to rape victims who incur huge financial loss apart from carrying the unwarranted stigma.
“The board shall take into account the pain, suffering and shock as well as loss of earnings due to pregnancy and the expenses of child birth if this occurred as a result of rape,” the court has said in Delhi Domestic Working Women’s Forum case.
Reiterating the guidelines, a bench of Justices B S Chauhan and F M I Kaliffulla said, “Undoubtedly any direction issued by this court is binding on all the courts and all civil authorities within the territory of India.” While dealing with a rape case from Madhya Pradesh, the bench accepted arguments of Vibha Datta Makhija and upheld the HC’s decision to reverse the acquittal of one Dilip who was accused of rape.
The lack of sensitivity shown towards the rape victim by the prosecution and the trial court anguished the bench and said that the 18-year-old directive asking the prosecution and states and Justices Chauhan and Kalifulla decided to add more norms to the guidelines.
Policy to compensate rape victims
The Government of India has set up a Central Victim Compensation Fund under the Ministry of Home Affairs for assisting & supporting Victim Compensation Schemes of States/Union Territories with an initial corpus of Rs. 200.00 crore under the “Nirbhaya Fund”. The Scheme is aimed to give matching support to States/UTs for victims compensated on various grounds such as loss and death with respect to acid attack, rape, human trafficking, physical abuse of children, women victims of cross-border firing suffering permanent or partial disability or death etc. The policy is drafted to support and supplement the existing Victim Compensation Schemes notified by States/UT Administrations and to reduce disparity in quantum of compensation amount notified by different States/UTs for victims of similar crimes. The policy is also aimed to encourage States/UTs to effectively implement the Victim Compensation Scheme (VCS) notified by them under the provisions of Section 357A of Cr.P.C. and continue financial support to victims of various crime especially sexual offences including rape, acid attacks, crime against children, human trafficking etc. including women victims of cross border firing.
CONCLUSION & SUGGESTION
Presently accepting the fact that there is no consistency in the legal framework in the nation to address the issue of payment of compensation amount to the casualties of crime, it is convenient to talk about the lawful position in regard of compensation to the victim of the offense. Post freedom, the criminal trials were administered by criminal Procedure Codes 1898 and after that by 1973 Code (“Cr.PC”). Till the year 2008, there was a provision pretty much comparable in both the codes for payment of compensation to the victims of the offense that is in section 545 in the old Code and in section 357 in the new Code.
The government should develop a central legislation which will uniformly enforce the law related to victim compensation and their rehabilitation in all the states. The drafted legislation must satisfy to the necessities of victims and the dependents of the victims and it must be in accordance with the international jurisprudence related to the victim compensation and rehabilitation. The government must guarantee proper implementation of compensation mechanism.