PULLING UP the state government on the implementation of the ‘Manodhairya Yojana’, the Bombay High Court said Tuesday that the state must not think it is doing charity by providing compensation and legal aid to victims of rape and assault as provided under the scheme.
Implemented by the state government on October 2, 2013, the scheme aims to secure assistance to the victims (women and children) of rape, sexual assault and acid attack.
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As part of the scheme, the victims are entitled to receive not only medical treatment but also legal aid, counselling and help for rehabilitation from the state government.
The court pointed at the state’s insensitivity after the government told the court that it was yet to take a decision on expanding the scope of the scheme, and apply the scheme retrospectively, in compliance with an earlier court order in the matter.
Meanwhile, the government counsel also pointed out that the state Women and Child Development Department has raised objections to the decision, citing lack of funds.
A bench of Justices Ranjit More and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi said it was the state’s duty to come to the aid of the victims and that it “was not doing any charity by promising compensation and benefits as it has a duty to do so.”
According to the state, the Centre has provided Rs 17 crore for the scheme, but it needs another Rs 40 crore to make it applicable retrospectively from 2009 onwards. The financial assistance provided under the scheme varies between Rs 50,000 and Rs 3 lakh.
The court also took exception to the government counsel’s submission that, in one instance, it had provided police protection to the father of a rape victim. “This man lives in a slum area where my constable doesn’t even have the facility to get a glass of drinking water. He was diagnosed with dengue because he had to stand outside the house for eight hours,” the counsel had said.
At this, the bench reminded the pleader that the state had announced the scheme on its own. “Manodhairya is a special scheme, do not defeat its purpose,” it said. It also directed the government to ensure that victims are given compensation as soon as the FIR is registered.
The court has scheduled further hearing in the case on January 24.