October 6, 2017 2:57:36 am
More than 1,300 survivors of serious crimes, like rape and acid attack, who were sanctioned compensation under the state-run Manodhairya scheme from October 2013 to January 2017, were not paid the amount, data received under the Right to Information Act and through the Maharashtra Police’s official website shows.
This came to light through an affidavit filed by an organisation, Forum Against Oppression of Women, on Thursday, while the Bombay High Court was hearing petitions that raised objections, mainly regarding the renewed Manodhariya scheme introduced by the government on August 1, 2017. The organisation had filed a petition in the High Court earlier, which had led to the state bringing about the Manodhairya scheme in October 2, 2013.
“Only 57 percent of the sexual assault cases registered by police are referred to Women and Child Development (WCD) department for purposes of receiving compensation under the said scheme. Out of the cases which are referred to WCD only 79.2 percent women are sanctioned compensation. Out of the sanctioned number only 75.25 percent women actually received compensation. The average compensation paid is Rs 1,71,537.6 only. In most cases police are unable to trace the survivors for the purpose of providing compensation. It’s clear from the data obtained that, from October 2013 till January 2017 number of survivors who were sanctioned compensation but could not be paid is 1308. Out of the total registered cases only 34 percent women have received any compensation,” states the affidavit.
One of the issues pointed out with regard to the new scheme is that, 75 per cent of the compensation awarded to the victim has to be kept in a fixed deposit for a period of 10 years and the remaining 25 per cent would be given to the victim. In case the victim is a minor, the government resolution states that the amount to be kept in fixed deposit is for 20 years. The maximum interim compensation cannot be more than Rs 25,000.
“The compensation awarded for the victims may be used by the victims for their medical treatment, legal fees, resettlement at another place etc., if the bulk of the amount is kept in a fixed deposit the victim will not be able to immediately utilise the amount for her own rehabilitation or for fighting the case, that may go on in the court for several years,” states the affidavit.
The point was also raised by senior advocate Venkatesh Dhond, who was appearing for the NGO, Majlis Manch, during the hearing on Thursday. “The state has to give reasons explaining the purpose for bringing such a modification. A fixed deposit earns just seven per cent interest. How helpful is that?” asked Chief Justice Manjula Chellur during the hearing. Dhond said there were some good features in the new and old schemes that could be compiled by them for the state to review. “We can only ask them to revisit the scheme,” said the court.
Another aspect of the scheme which was discussed is that under it, the amount paid to person, who dies due to sexual assault or rape, is only Rs 1 lakh while for a person who suffers grievous injury or mental trauma, or is gangraped, is Rs 10 Lakh. Advocate Flavia Agnes, who was also appearing for Majlis Manch, said: “There are such stringent guidelines on what constitutes permanent damage that majority of the victims are left out of it. Who decides what is permanent damage? There is no criteria. The scheme should not be of exclusion but of inclusion.” The affidavit states: “In case of acid attack victims, cost for plastic surgery is granted only in case of disfigurement of face. This amounts to arbitrariness, as surgery on other parts of body is equally important…”
The new scheme also makes Aadhaar number of the victim mandatory for granting of compensation and disbursal of funds. “Many of the victims are from the poor and economically marginalized sections of the society who may not have Aadhar numbers. Importantly the issue regarding making Aadhar mandatory for the beneficial schemes is pending before the Supreme Court of India,” read the petition.
The new scheme has also completely done away with the system of District Compensation Board, which in the earlier scheme was authorised to disburse compensation to victims. It states that since the district collectors are overburdened with work due to which, there has been delay in disbursal of compensation to victims, powers of awarding compensation is being given to the District Legal Services Authority.
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