This article explores the constitutional obligation of State agencies to attend to the emotional and financial needs of victims of crimes. Trauma suffered by the victim of a crime can have a tight grip over their lives and demand intervention of an effective support mechanism.
The State is legally bound to protect the fundamental rights of all its citizens. In the spirit of our Constitution, the State is required to provide services, including monetary, to such victims for mitigating their hardships.
Delhi Victim Compensation Scheme (DVCS):
The Ministry of Home Affairs notified the Guidelines for Central Victims Compensation Fund Scheme so that the states can align their respective compensation schemes with it. DVCS 2015 repealed the 2011 Victim Compensation Scheme after iProbono’s intervention in Minor through Guardian Zareen v. State of NCT of Delhi, which now applies to victims as well as their dependent(s). It covers instances such as loss of life, gang rape, rape, unnatural sexual assault, disabilities caused by a crime, trafficking, physical abuse of minor, acid attacks, and others.
Compensation can be availed under DVCS only if they have not received assistance under any other scheme with respect to the same crime. Victims can also avail other benefits such as free medical facilities, or other interim compensation (including monetary), if deemed appropriate. Interim compensation shall not be more than Rs. 50,000, except in cases of extreme hardship. In cases of acid attack Rs. 1,00,000 shall be paid within 15 days, and an additional sum of Rs. 2,00,000 shall be paid within two months.
An Application seeking compensation can be filed by the victims/ dependents / SHO of the area before the State Legal Services Authority, along with a copy of the FIR and other court-related documents. No claim shall be entertained if 3 years have elapsed since the offence, or conclusion of trial. Factors considered while awarding the compensation include gravity of offence, severity of injury, medical expenses, loss of educational opportunity / employment, relationship of the victim and offender, resultant pregnancy, STDs contracted, disability suffered, financial conditions, and others.
In the case of a minor, 80% of the compensation is put in a fixed deposit by the State Legal Services Authority, to be withdrawn after minimum 3 years, and after turning 18.
Schedule of compensation under the 2015 scheme:
|Loss of Life||3 Lakhs||10 Lakhs|
|Gang Rape||3 Lakhs||7 Lakhs|
|Rape||3 Lakhs||5 Lakhs|
|Unnatural Sexual Assaulty||2 Lakhs||5 Lakhs|
|Loss of limb / part of body resulting in 80% permanent disability or above||2 Lakhs||5 Lakhs|
|Loss of limb / part of body resulting in above 40% and below 80% permanent disability||1 Lakh||3 Lakhs|
|Loss of limb / part of body resulting in above 20% and below 80% permanent disability||50,000||2 Lakhs|
|Loss of limb / part of body resulting in below 20% permanent disability||20,000||1 Lakh|
|Victims of human trafficking / kidnapping||1 Lakh||3 Lakh|
|Physical Abuse of Minor||1 Lakh||3 Lakhs|
|Grievous injury||50,000||2 Lakhs|
|Loss of foetus resulting from assault||2 Lakhs||3 Lakhs|
Victims of burning:
In the abovementioned case, iProbono sought enhancement of compensation awarded to the male child survivor, who at the age of 11 was brutally sexually assaulted by 4 juveniles. iProbono challenged constitutionality of the 2011 Scheme for discriminating between a male and a female survivor of sexual abuse, because the former was eligible only under the category ‘Victim of human trafficking / child abuse / kidnapping” and got Rs. 50,000/-, whereas the latter under the category ‘Rape’ could get Rs. 3,00,000/-.
The Delhi High Court accepted that s. 357 (A) of the Code of Criminal Procedure covers cases under POCSO Act, and that Section 33 of the said Act provides no outer limit for the amount of compensation, as it ought to be calculated as per the facts and circumstances of each case. It was held that the 2011 Scheme was wrongly relied upon.
Factoring in the struggles of the victim and his family, compensation was enhanced to Rs. 3,00,000/-. This decision provides valuable guidance to POCSO Courts regarding compensation, and the need to provide constructive rehabilitation for minor victims, irrespective of their sex.
The article was written by Iti Pandey, iProbono’s Program Officer.