Observing that setting up of the Nirbhaya Fund is not enough, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre to formulate a national policy for providing adequate relief to rape survivors, as merely s
Observing that setting up of the Nirbhaya Fund is not enough, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre to formulate a national policy for providing adequate relief to rape survivors, as merely setting up a separate fund without a policy amounted to just a “lip service”.
A vacation bench of Justices P.C. Pant and D.Y. Chandrachud observed: “Different states have different schemes. There is no national plan as to how the rape victims are to be compensated. Setting up of the Nirbhaya Fund is not enough and it is just paying a lip service. The Union of India must ensure that adequate relief is being provided to the victims of sexual offences.” The bench pointed out to senior counsel Indira Jaising that mere allocation of funds would not suffice and it was necessary to examine how the funds are devolved and actually utilised.
The bench sought the response of the Centre, states and Union Territories on steps taken on the `2,000-crore “Nirbhaya Fund” for rape victims and protection of women created in 2013 following the Nirbhaya rape incident in December 2012 to provide assistance to women in distress and ensure their safety.
The bench also asked them to explain the steps taken for formulating witness protection and victim compensation schemes to combat the growing menace of rapes in the country. The bench gave this direction on an interim application moved by Ms Jaising and amicus curiae in a case relating to the constitutional validity of the controversial “two-finger test” adopted by doctors while examining rape victims.
Ms Jaising said though victim schemes have been formulated by most of the states and UTs under Section 357 A of the CrPC, 1973, there is no uniformity in the various schemes.
She said although 25 out of 29 States have notified these schemes, yet there is complete lack of uniformity in the said schemes and the states have not yet indicated whether appropriate funds have been allocated in pursuance to the notification of the said schemes, as well as the number of rape survivors that have been compensated under the said schemes.
She said another major issue of concern is the status of the “witness protection programme schemes” that have not so far been formulated by most of the states, except Delhi. She brought to the court’s notice that very little information has been furnished by the state governments on the status of “one-stop crisis centres” for rape survivors.
She said the ministry of women and child development has an existing scheme, pursuant to which only Kerala has some functional one-stop crisis centres for rape survivors.
The counsel said application-based taxi operators refuse to comply with the regulations of the Indian government on the ground that they are registered in other foreign countries. She wanted uniform regulations be introduced in all states which would require mandatory driver verification, installation of GPS system in all cabs and buses.