Court Slams Delay, Arbitrary Payout Decisions
Irked that rape survivors are denied mandatory compensation and are forced to knock on courts’ doors, the Bombay high court on Wednesday lambasted the state government for delaying payouts. It has summoned the collector (Mumbai suburbs) to be present on Women’s Day , March 8.“Should we collect donations from the general public if they (government) don’t have money for this?“ asked a bench headed by the chief justice. The judges reacted after the public prosecutor said there are “some practical difficulties“ for delay in compensation. “When you claim to be a welfare state, try to be a welfare state,“ the judges said.

The court heard a PIL regarding delay in the setting up of a fund for the rehabilitation of rape survivors as envisaged by the Supreme Court and also a petition by a rape survivor who is a minor. The judges were miffed over the delay of compensation to the girl; an FIR was filed in the case in 2014.

In 2013, the SC directed all state governments to pay Rs 1 lakh to a rape survivor within 15 days of an FIR’s registration, especially to cover medical expenses. The maximum com pensation stipulated is Rs 3 lakh. Apart from not complying with the direction, state authorities kept postponing the decision to pay compensation in the matter being heard. “There cannot be such insensitive approach after specific direction by the Supreme Court and repeated orders of this court,“ said the HC judges.

They noted that the district board concluded that only Rs 2 lakh should be paid (after the petition was filed). When the court questioned why maximum compensation (Rs 3 lakh) was not given, the state’s response was that the incident seems to have occurred because of consent by the girl. “She was hardly 14 and you came to the conclusion that she gave consent.Even a 25-year-old may not be able to decide in these matters,“ said the bench. “We are surprised at the laxity on the part of the officer and we are pained with the attitude of officers.“

Frowning upon the district board, which fixed the amount, the bench said, “Is this scheme operating at the whims and fancies of government officers?
Are they paying from their own pockets? They are not beggars.It is there right. You are not doing any charity .“

Posting the matter for March 8, the bench has directed the state to place on record details regarding the functioning of the district board and on what basis they arrive at decisions on how much compensation should be paid to rape survivors.