SC approves NALSA’s uniform compensation for sexual assault victims

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New Delhi, May 11 (IANS) A uniform compensation scheme for victims of sexual assault and acid attacks has been prepared by National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) in consultation with the Centre, which the Supreme Court approved on Friday.

The scheme clearly defines the compensation slabs for victims of sexual assault, acid attacks and even loss of a fetus, and earmarks minimum Rs 5 lakh and Rs 7 lakh respectively for women who go through a crisis post sexual assault or an acid attack.

NALSA Director Surinder S. Rathi submitted the scheme in the apex court, which directed the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Principal Secretaries of all states to take steps to ensure implementation of the scheme as soon as possible.

A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta ordered that it should be implemented in all states and union territories.

“We make it clear that the scheme prepared by the NALSA will not preclude the states and union territories from giving more compensation.”

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As per “Compensation Scheme for Women Victims/Survivors of Sexual Assault/Other Crimes”, a minimum of Rs 5 lakh is to be paid in case of loss of life or gang rape of a victim and maximum of Rs 10 lakh.

A minimum amount of Rs 4 lakh is to be paid in case of rape or unnatural sexual assault, with the maximum fixed at Rs 7 lakh.

In case of victims of burning and acid attacks, the minimum compensation will be Rs 7 lakh for total disfigurement, with a maximum of Rs 8 lakh. Rs 5 lakh has been fixed in case of 50 per cent burns, while the upper limit would be Rs 8 lakh.

For loss of limb or body part resulting in 80 per cent permanent disability, Rs 2 lakh is to be given, with Rs 2 lakh in case of grievous physical injury.

The scheme provides that in case of pregnancy on account of rape, the victim would get between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 4 lakh, while for miscarriage or loss of fertility due to such assaults, the amount would be between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 3 lakh.

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It also empowers the legal services authority to take suo motu cognisance of cases of sexual assault and acid attacks to grant interim relief after preliminary verification.

Recovery of compensation in matters where the cases were found to be false was also taken care of in the scheme.

Under the scheme, a compensation fund will be set up, to be managed by State Legal Services Authority(SLSA), which will also set up a portal for victims to apply online for compensation.

During the hearing, Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, assisting the court as amicus curiae, told the bench that the Centre cleared Rs 3,500 crore fund under the Nirbhaya Scheme but only nine states have received funds so far.

She said the DSLSA gets fund directly but for other states the procedure for getting funds is long and only 2-3 sexual assault victims got compensation money. The victims’ compensation pending since 2013 till date should be disbursed by way of interim relief, the lawyer added.

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The court said it would deal with the issue of the Nirbhaya Fund in July.

After the December 16, 2012, gang-rape and murder case in Delhi, the central government announced in 2013 the Nirbhaya Fund scheme to support state governments and NGOs working for women’s safety.

The court was hearing petitions filed after the 2012 case, raising concerns over the safety and security of women.

Earlier, NALSA had told the apex court that hardly 5-10 per cent of sexual assault victims across the country were able to get compensation under the relevant schemes in various states.

–IANS

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