The disposal of cases under the victim compensation scheme, is moving at a snail’s pace since its launch in April 2013 with 14 cases still pending with the State Legal Services for the last six months. Of the 14 cases, eight are rape victims who are are awaiting compensation. The remaining cases comprises kidnapping and sexual exploitation of minor children.
Speaking on the pending cases, member secretary SLSA, Mahavir Singh said, “Earlier, the victim compensation scheme was not so popular. We started receiving huge number cases recently. Also, some cases were filed before the orders were pronounced in the case. Thus, the advocates filed the cases at a pre-mature stage due to which they were kept pending. This is the main reason why the cases are still pending.”
Also, the compensation money awarded by the SLSA has increased from Rs 12 lakh in four cases (with Rs 3 lakh released to each person) in 2013 to Rs 20,50,000 in seven cases (with Rs 3 lakh released to each victim) this year till February 2017 due to rise in number of victims seeking compensation.
The legal services are supposed to release compensation to children who are victim of sexual harassment under the POCSO Act, rape victims, murder cases, accident cases and acid attack cases.
An acid-attack victim, who was given compensation after she approached the then advisor in 2013, while speaking to Chandigarh Newsline said, “I still remember the day of the incident. It was November 27, 2010. The court pronounced the orders within a year but I had to approach the advisor to get compensation. I got it only after the advisor asked the administration to do so.”
However, the court had directed the legal services to give compensation to the family of chartered accountant Rajesh Goyal, who was murdered in 2007. Speaking to Chandigarh Newsline Correspondent, Sonia Goyal said, “It’s a very good initiative of the administration. We got the compensation amount within a few months. The legal services get limited funds and it gets exhausted very soon.”
However, another minor victim of sexual abuse is awaiting compensation for the last seven months. “I have been awaiting for compensation for last seven months and I hope to get it soon. It’s a good move but there are procedural delays,” said the victim’s father while speaking to Chandigarh Newsline.
With increase in the number of cases, the amount disbursed to the victim has also increased.
Out of 55 cases decided by the legal services in 2016 and 2017, in 69 per cent of the cases (38 cases) compensation was awarded to rape victims and remaining to accident victims.
“I am on the legal-aid panel and have applied for compensation on behalf of several rape victims. It is a good initiative. However, sometime lawyers seek compensation without orders being pronounced in the case due to which cases remain pending,” said advocate Manjit Kaur.
Elaborating on it Mahavir Singh said, “We give compensation only after the directions of the court. If the accused in a rape case is acquitted and the court directs compensation to the victim as she/he is a sufferer then compensation is awarded. But in cases where couples elope and then a rape case is filed, the girl, however, later turns hostile. In such cases, compensation is not allotted. If an advocate seeks compensation before orders are pronounced then he has to place a copy of the order on record to get compensation.”