Nirbhaya Fund: The long and cumbersome road to compensationhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/nirbhaya-fund-the-long-and-cumbersome-road-to-compensation/

Nirbhaya Fund: The long and cumbersome road to compensation

At anytime, the DLSA has a corpus of Rs 25 crore in its account for the scheme.

This year, the Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA) disbursed a sum of Rs 9.26 crore under the Delhi Victims Compensation Scheme. However, none of this amount came from the Nirbhaya Fund due to the complex bureaucratic route needed to access the fund. Is the Nirbhaya Fund really effective in granting compensation to victims of rape and sexual assault?

What is the Delhi Victims Compensation Scheme ?

It is a scheme by the Delhi government, wherein the DLSA pays a compensation amount to the victims and their dependents who have suffered loss or injury or require rehabilitation as a result of the crime. The DLSA examines the case and verifies the content of the claim. It may also seek any other relevant information necessary for consideration of the claim. In rape cases, the compensation amount varies from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 3 lakh.

What is the budget allocation for the DLSA?

At anytime, the DLSA has a corpus of Rs 25 crore in its account for the scheme. When this amount is reduced by Rs 1 crore, the Delhi government provides funds to the DLSA, so that it has sufficient funds to provide compensation to the victims.

Has the DLSA ever used money from the Nirbhaya Fund ?

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According to sources, this year it has received a circular from the Central government, urging it to “reimburse” the funds spent while providing compensation to victims of rape and sexual assault, from the Nirbhaya Fund. However, the DLSA is yet to claim any reimbursement from the Nirbahaya Fund.

What is the mechanism for the DLSA to use the Nirbhaya Fund?

At any point of time, the DLSA always has sufficient funds to grant compensation. The Nirbhaya Fund does not give the DLSA funds directly, it only reimburses the money allocated by the Delhi government and spent by the authority while granting compensation to victims. So even if the DLSA needs funds from the Nirbhaya Fund, it can only get them after claiming reimbursement. If it needs funds urgently, the DLSA cannot get it through the Nirbhaya Fund; it has to approach the Delhi government.

Why is the process of reimbursement under the fund so complicated?

The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development is the nodal authority which can be approached by various ministries and departments which needs funds from the Nirbhaya Fund.

The ministry then forwards the suitable proposals to the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) for necessary budgetary allocations for the respective demands. The budget division, with the approval of the finance minister, then approves the disbursal of money from the Nirbhaya Fund.

To receive reimbursement from the Nirbhaya Fund, the DLSA has to go through various departments and ministries before it can actually receive the amount it had spent on providing compensation. It would be much simpler for the DLSA to get its funds directly from the Delhi government.