A special court in Maharashtra recently ordered recovery of Rs 2 lakh compensation from a woman who had initially alleged she had been raped but later turned hostile. The compensation had been given to her under the Manodhairya Yojana, set up by the state government through a government resolution (GR) in August 2013 on directions of the Bombay High Court.
The scheme provides for financial support to and rehabilitation of victims of rape, child sexual abuse and acid attacks called Manodhairya. Under its provisions, upon the filing of a FIR under the sections covering these offences, the police are to send a copy of the complaint to a six-member, District Criminal Injuries Relief and Rehabilitation Board along with a medical report within 24 hours to decide the assistance to be given to the victim. Last year, a new GR changed these provisions, making the District Legal Services Authority responsible for implement the scheme as it was felt that judicial officers were better equipped to assess the FIR, medical report and the victim’s statement while deciding how much compensation should be awarded. At present, the scheme allows for compensation up to a maximum of Rs 10 lakh.
It is the new GR that introduced a provision to include recovery of compensation from a victim. In cases where a victim alleged rape under the pretext of marriage, the full compensation will be paid only if the case ends in conviction. If such a victim turns hostile during the trial, or if such a case ends in an out-of-court settlement, then 25% of compensation granted earlier will be recovered. In addition, in all cases, 75% of the compensation will be kept in a fixed deposit for a period of 10 years.
Women’s groups had written to the Chief Minister in July this year, saying that the scheme is contradictory to the Supreme Court-approved victim compensation scheme formulated by a nine-member committee appointed by National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).