In directing the Madhya Pradesh government to pay Rs 10 lakh each as compensation to two victims of sexual assault by 16 persons, including two...
In directing the Madhya Pradesh government to pay Rs 10 lakh each as compensation to two victims of sexual assault by 16 persons, including two minors, who later circulated MMS clips of the barbarity, the Supreme Court has provided a perspective not only to the Government but also to lower judiciary. Calling for a uniform compensation scheme for rape victims, a bench of Justices RM Lodha and Madan B Lokur on Monday marveled at the decision of the State government to pay victims a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.
“We are surprised to find that the victims were given Rs 2 lakh each as compensation which is too low and highly inadequate,” the bench said in an interim order. The stress and trauma caused to such victims cannot be compensated. “No amount of money can restore the dignity and confidence of a rape victim,” the bench said, and added: “However, certain measures like adequate compensation, insurance, employment and a social security scheme may help in rehabilitating rape victims to a certain extent,” the bench ruled, and ordered the Madhya Pradesh government, which had already paid a compensation of Rs. 2 lakh each to the two victims in the case, to pay them the rest of the Rs.8 lakhs “within one month from today”.
The significance of this decision is considerably enhanced by the fact that it has come when, according to the guidelines of a scheme formulated by the National Commission for Women, the first installment of Rs 20,000 out of a total compensation of Rs. 2 lakhs will be paid out within three weeks of the application for compensation being filed by a rape victim. Victims of rape will get cash compensation of up to Rs 2 lakh under a scheme designed to provide them with relief as well to encourage the reporting of such crimes and improve rape conviction rates in the country. Only a miniscule percentage of women and children who are raped ever report the incident to the police; also, not every such case reported is necessarily investigated sincerely. Of course, Indian women owe it to the Nirbhaya outrage in New Delhi on December 16, 2012, that the police force has bestirred itself to pursue cases of excesses on women, though selectively.
After all, according to newspaper reports, a sub-inspector and two constables of police in Patna turned mute spectators on Sunday in return “for bottles of liquor”, among other things, when some men physically tortured a “low caste” girl whose brother had eloped with a girl from a “ higher caste”. It is all right to say that rapes have deep roots in human history, but it is no less true that such profane heat gets automatically subdued when there is fear of the law. But if minions of the law are themselves up for sale to the highest bidder, potential rapists cannot be controlled. In the Madhya Pradesh case, 14 of the 16 accused are reported to have strong political connections with both the Congress and the BJP. Little wonder that the outrage that took place in February 2012 came to light only after the MMS clips went into circulation. Thereupon, a public interest litigation by Satya Pal Anand for higher compensation to the two victims of gang rape brought the apex court into the picture with salutary results.