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Stating that the compensation awarded to victims of rape, sexual assault and acid attacks under Maharashtra’s Manodhairya scheme was “insulting and inhuman,” the High Court Wednesday asked the government to look at revising the scheme, especially in terms of the compensation to victims. “We are not happy with this Manodhairya scheme. It is insulting, inhuman and shameful. There has been no application of mind while formulating this scheme,” said Chief Justice Manjula Chellur.
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Pointing to other states such as Goa, where Rs 10 lakh is given as compensation to such victims, the court said that they expected Maharashtra too to be progressive. “The orders of this court and all other relevant judgments passed by the Supreme Court on this issue should be placed before the chief secretary so that he can take a decision in the matter within four weeks,” said the court.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by a 14-year-old girl, who claims to be a victim of rape, seeking compensation of Rs 3 lakh under the scheme.
The girl was given Rs 2 lakh by the government after the petition was filed in October last year. The bench was on Wednesday informed that the scheme had two categories, first for rape and sexual assault victims and the second for acid attack victims. While Rs 2 lakh is given to victims of the first category, Rs 3 lakh is given to the second category.
“What about child victims? Is Rs 2 lakh enough for them? They will not even get proper education. It is insulting to go take this measly compensation. The government is not bothered,” the court said. “Today is Women’s Day. At least from today, start doing something constructive. The attitude of the government towards women and children will shape the manner in which the citizens see them,” the court said.
The court further asked if the government was publicising the scheme so that more people were aware of it.
“Are the police informing the victim at the time of recording their statement about the scheme?” Justice Kulkarni said.
To this, Chief Justice Chellur remarked, “First the police need to speak politely to the victims. Such cases should be handled by women officers.”
The court questioned why, in cases of acid attacks, compensation for victims who suffered injuries to their faces was Rs 3 lakh but fell to Rs 50,000 if the injuries were on any other part of the body.
“There is complete non-application of mind. What if a girl suffers injuries to her limbs and is not able to use her hands or not walk? Is Rs 50,000 enough for her? The government is bothered only about the face?” the court said.