The Delhi High Court has held that a child “born out of rape” is also entitled to receiving compensation, including “maintenance and support”.
“We find there is a complete vacuum in the consideration of compensation so far as the sexual offence resulting in the birth of a child. Such a child is clearly a victim of the act of the offender and entitled to compensation independent of the amount paid to his/her mother. Such award would require to include amount towards his/her maintenance and support,” said the bench of Justice Gita Mittal and Justice R K Gauba in its judgment issued on December 9.
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The bench also said the entitlement of the child was traced to provisions of compensation to victims of sexual assault under Section 357 of the CrPC as well as under the POCSO Act, since such a child would be “encovered under the definition of both victim as well as dependent on the victim”.
The direction was issued while upholding the life sentence to a man convicted of raping and impregnating his 14-year-old stepdaughter.
NGO HaQ Center for Child Rights co-director Bharti Ali told The Indian Express the judgment would “set a precedent for expedited compensation” to child victims of sexual abuse.
“This is the first time that rights of a child born out of rape have been considered. So far, we had been struggling to get compensation for the rape victims, since courts are reluctant to grant it till the trial is over,” said Ali.
Advocate Varun Goswami, who was the public prosecutor in the case, said there was now “hope that the legislature will look into it and make provisions”.
The 14-year-old rape victim had given birth to a boy in 2014. The trial court had convicted the man on the basis of DNA evidence proving that he was the father of the child.
The girl alleged that the stepfather had been sexually abusing her since she was 11 and had threatened the lives of her mother and eight-year-old stepbrother.
The man worked as a driver, and had married the mother of the girl after the death of her first husband.
However, while upholding the legal entitlement of the child to get compensation from the government, the bench has set aside the Rs 12 lakh compensation granted to the baby by the trial court in this particular case.
The bench noted that since the baby had been given up in adoption, there were “concerns of privacy and confidentiality” which could have “possible repercussions”, “impacting the future welfare of the individuals involved…”
The HC set aside the order of the trial court awarding compensation to the baby, but has allowed the couple who adopted the boy “to approach the legal services authority for compensation in its favour should they feel it necessary to claim on its behalf”.
The bench has also enhanced the amount of compensation to the rape victim, from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 7.5 lakh.
The court has now directed that the judgment should be sent to the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) and the Principal Secretary Law of the Delhi government to consider the issue of compensation to the child victims.
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