Spell out norms for devolving Nirbhaya fund to states, SC tells centre

New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the central government to spell out the manner in which Nirbhaya fund – for safety and empowerment of women – would be given to the states, saying that otherwise it would be reduced to a “lip sympathy”.

“How you propose for the devolution of (Nirbhaya) fund to the States. What is the manner how this fund is going to be devolved to the states? Otherwise it would be lip sympathy,” said a vacation bench of Justice Prafulla C. Pant and Justice D.Y.Chandrachud.

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The court’s observation came as amicus curiae Indira Jaisinh drew the attention of the court on the lack of uniformity in the victim compensation scheme formulated by different states under the Code of Criminal Procedure’s (Cr.PC) section 357A.

The bench issued notice to the central and state governments on a number of issues flagged by the amicus curiae in her brief including compensation to rape victims, financial allocations for the same, number of cases where compensation was given, witness protection programme, One Stop Crisis Centre (OSCC) for rape survivors, details of the vehicles plying under the All India Tourists Permit Vehicles and the regulations of radio taxi operators.

The notice is returnable in six weeks.

Noting that there was a huge variations in the victim compensation scheme formulated by the different states, Justice Chandrachud said: “There could be a national model for victim compensation scheme” citing the Uttar Pradesh scheme which had a “horrendous provision” but changed on account of intervention by the state high court.

“This should not be left out to the states to have their (respective) models varying vastly from each other,” he said.

The bench also said that a well-spelt out VCS too should be backed by budgetary allocations.

Jaisinh, who was appointed amicus curiae on March 23, 2015 to assist the court in the hearing of a batch of petitions relating to the safety and security of woman in public places, told the court that while section 357A provides for compensation to the victims of all kind of offences but the petitioners were seeking a dedicated fund and a VCS for rape victims.

She told the court that while Goa pays Rs.10 lakh under the VCS, some states were giving the abysmally low amount of Rs.20,000 only.

Referring to the reply to an RTI application, by lead petitioner Nipun Sexana, on compensation to rape victims since section 357A was inserted in CrPC, Jaisinh told the court that in last four years, only eight cases of compensation were made in the entire country.