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SC on Nirbhaya Fund: Put system in place

The court told the Centre that it must be concerned that there is a problem. There should be a procedure for this and the government, which was paying the fund, ought to also make sure that it serves the right purpose, the bench said.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
September 23, 2017 6:13:23 am
nirbhaya fund, nirbhaya case, supreme court, sc, india, indian express news Supreme Court (Files)

The Supreme Court on Friday expressed displeasure over disbursal of the Nirbhaya Fund and said that an “unhappy state of affairs” prevails on the issue since there is a “lot of confusion” in the absence of clarity on who is responsible for paying compensation to sexual assault victims, and at what stage it has to be paid.

The observations came from a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupat while hearing a matter related to women’s safety.

Going through an affidavit filed by the Centre on the point of disbursal of Nirbhaya funds, the bench observed, “There seems to be no system (on) how funds have to be disbursed, how victims have to be compensated, and at what stage the compensation has to be paid. This is an unhappy state of affairs.”

Senior counsel Indira Jaising, amicus curiae in the matter, said there is no uniformity in disbursal of funds to the victims. In states such as Goa, the amount is Rs 10 lakh while in some other states, it is only Rs 1 lakh, she pointed out.

Jaising stated that the Centre’s affidavit does not mention state-wise details of the number of victims compensated, and the total amount disbursed. The Centre, she said, had transferred Rs 200 crore under the Nirbhaya scheme to each state but there is no clarity whether this was a one-time transfer or annual procedure.

The court told the Centre that it must be concerned that there is a problem. There should be a procedure for this and the government, which was paying the fund, ought to also make sure that it serves the right purpose, the bench said.

The court also referred to the multiplicity of agencies involved — Home, Women and Child Development, and Finance ministries — and said there is no clarity on who was involved.

The Nirbhaya fund was announced by the Centre in 2013 after the December 16, 2012 gangrape and murder case in Delhi. It is meant to support initiatives of the government and NGOs working towards protecting the dignity and ensuring women’s safety.

The bench also expressed its unhappiness with the Centre’s affidavit and pointed out several instances where state-wise details of the number of such victims and the amount of compensation given to them were not given properly. “There must be some application of mind (before filing an affidavit),” the bench said.

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