Delhi HC also pulls up state for no victim compensation fund.
New Delhi: In a landmark order, the Delhi high court has said that a child born out of rape is entitled to compensation irrespective to any grant or relief given to the mother. The high court’s verdict highlights the vacuum in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, which is silent on any provision to the child. Another issue that court took a stern view of was keeping the identity of the victim confidential. Making crucial observations pertaining to the Pocso Act, the court pointed out that the state had not set aside any compensation fund for victims, despite orders from the court on the same.
The court gave its verdict in a case, in which a man has been sent to jail for his entire “natural life” for raping his minor step-daughter. The high court bench comprising Justices Gita Mittal and R.K. Gauba observed that the child is clearly a victim of the offence: “A child born out of rape, either of a minor or a woman who is an adult, is clearly a victim of the act of the offender and entitled to compensation independent of the amount of compensation paid to his/her mother.” However, there is no clarity yet on how much compensation the child will be entitled to.
This “vacuum” in the law came to the court’s attention when it was hearing the appeal of a man convicted and awarded life term for raping his minor step-daughter, who, as a result of the crime, gave birth at the tender age of 14 years.
Noting the “sordid scenario” in the current case, where “the trust and confidence reposed in the man by his wife and step-daughter, was abused by him to bring about, out of sheer lust, untold miseries on the body, mind and psyche of the prosecutrix child leaving scars which would not ever heal”, the court upheld his conviction and sentence.
It also clarified that the man shall remain behind bars for the remainder of his natural life, saying “we see no scope for any ruth (pity) in the matter of punishment”.
Earlier, the high court, had laid down a law in this regard, reduced the amount of compensation to the rape victim from Rs 15 lakh awarded by the trial court to Rs 7.5 lakh, saying the higher amount went against the 2011 compensation scheme formulated by the Delhi government.
The court also pulled up the trial court for being lax in protecting the identity of the minor victim and its callousness over guidelines under POCSO. The high court also reiterated its earlier direction to all trial courts not to disclose the identity of minor victims in POCSO cases.
Apart from the lack of provisions under the POCSO Rules and the Delhi Victims Compensation Scheme 2011 for children born out of rape, the court noted the absence of any provision in the scheme for child victims of sexual offences. It also observed that no victim compensation fund has been set up under the 2011 scheme despite directions in this regard by the high court in a PIL. The high court noted this while examining how the trial court awarded a compensation of Rs 15 lakh to the victim. The bench said under the existing scheme, the maximum compensation that can be paid was Rs 3 lakh and under the proposed new scheme of 2015, it would be enhanced to Rs 7.5 lakh. Setting aside the compensation awarded by the trial court, the bench awarded a total amount of Rs 7.5 lakh to the victim, saying “given the nature of loss, pain and suffering which she undoubtedly would have undergone, we find this to be a fit case where the state must pay compensation for the minimum sum of Rs 7.5 lakh (which would be the compensation awardable under the proposed scheme of 2015, as and when brought in force)”.