Parliamentary Consultative Committee of Ministry of Women & Child Development Discusses Rape Victims Rehabilitation Scheme

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EQUALITY INDIA NEWS- A SHAKTI VAHINI RESEARCH INITIATIVE

The Consultative Committee of the Parliament attached to the Ministry of Women and Child Development held its meeting in New Delhi today under the Chairmanship of Smt. Krishna Tirath, Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Women, and Child Development. Smt. Krishna Tirath in her welcome address said that Rape is one of the most violent forms of crimes against women, which not only impacts her bodily integrity but in the long-run, impairs her capacity to develop meaningful personal and social relationships, and affects her life and livelihood. The victim of rape suffers mental and psychological trauma, which must be addressed so that she is able to lead a dignified and meaningful life. She further informed the members that the National Crime Records Bureau data shows that the incidence of rape in the country is increasing. A total of 21,467 cases of rape were reported in 2008 alone, which constituted an increase of 3.5% over the previous year. According to the provisional data of 2009, a total of 21,397 cases had already been reported during the year. An analysis of the data reported in 2008 shows that Madhya Pradesh reported the highest number of cases (2,937) accounting for 13.7% of total such cases reported in the country. West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh reported 2263 and 1871 cases, respectively; followed by Maharashtra (1558), Assam (1438), Rajasthan (1355) and Bihar (1302) cases. The lowest number of cases was reported from Nagaland (19) and Sikkim (20).

Women from all age-groups have been victims of rape although it is the women in the age-group of 18-30 years, who may be more visible in the public sphere, continue to be most vulnerable to the crime of rape.  In 2008, therefore, the total percentage of rape victims in the age-group 18-30 years was 57.2% (12,299); in 2007, their percentage was similarly high at 57.7% (11,984). Another significant and worrisome aspect of the data is that in as many as 91% (19,542) of the cases, the offenders were known to the victims. Out of these, neighbours were involved in 33.1% cases. During this period, 309 cases of incest rape were also reported.

Sections 375, 376 and 376A-D of the Indian Penal Code constitute the legal framework that deals with the offence of rape and provides for its punishment. These criminal law provisions provide for punishment of the accused and the penalties therein are envisaged to act as a deterrent.

Although the criminal law is not traditionally geared towards providing relief to victims, keeping in view the injury that is often suffered by the victim of a crime, Section 357 of the Cr.P.C. enables the courts to award compensation to victims of various crimes, including to that of rape. Through the amendments in 2009, a new Section 357A was introduced in the Cr.P.C. which casts a responsibility on the State Governments to formulate a Scheme in coordination with the Central Government, for compensation of victims of crime.

A Scheme for Rehabilitation of Rape Victims of the Ministry of Women & Child Development is in the final stages. While it is essential to provide punishment to the perpetrators of such heinous crimes, it is imperative that the victim is restored to a position of dignity and self-confidence. It is this principle of restorative justice that must form the basis of efforts to address the trauma that the affected woman goes through and may entail not only financial assistance but also various support services such as counseling, shelter, medical and legal aid.

Recognizing this, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Delhi Domestic Working Women’s Forum Vs. Union of India and others writ petition (CRL) No.362/93 had directed the National Commission for Women to evolve a “scheme so as to wipe out the tears of unfortunate victims of rape’’. The Supreme Court observed that having regard to the Directive Principles contained in Article 38(1) of the Constitution, it was necessary to set up a Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, as rape victims besides the mental anguish, frequently incur substantial financial loss and in some cases are too traumatized to continue in employment.

The National Commission for Women held wide ranging consultations with various stakeholders such as women’s organisations, NGOs, lawyers, select District Magistrates, members of the judiciary and police. Finally, the draft Scheme was discussed in detail at the ‘National Consultation on Access to Justice, Relief and Rehabilitation of Rape Victims’ organised by the Ministry of Women & Child Development on 7th March, 2010. In this background, a comprehensive Scheme titled the ‘Financial Assistance and Support Services to Victims of Rape: A Scheme for Restorative Justice to provide financial assistance and various support services to victims of rape has been formulated.

Salient Features of the Scheme are:

The scheme proposes to cover women and minor girls who are victims of rape. Legal heir(s) is also entitled to financial assistance where death of the affected woman has resulted as a consequence of rape.

(i)                 Reliefs envisaged under the Scheme: Under the Scheme, an affected woman shall be entitled to:

  • Interim financial assistance to the affected woman of Rs 20,000/- to take care of her immediate needs;
  • Support services such as shelter, counselling, medical aid, legal assistance, education and vocational training depending upon her needs. Assistance of upto Rs 50,000/- can be provided for these support services; and
  • Final financial assistance of Rs 1.30 lakhs to address her long-term needs and giving her support towards restoring her confidence

(ii)                Provision for enhancement in special cases: In certain special cases involving minor girls or mentally challenged/handicapped women who may need specialised treatment and care or women who become infected with STDs, HIV/AIDS or get pregnant or on any other ground, the quantum of assistance may be enhanced up to Rs 3 lakhs by the State Board on a reference from and in consultation with the District Board.

(iii)              Assistance to legal heir(s): In case of death of the affected woman, her legal heirs including minor children shall be entitled to Rs 1 lakh as assistance in case she was a non-earning member or Rs 2 lakhs in case she was an earning member of the family.

(iv)             Establishment of Authorities under the Scheme: The Scheme envisages the setting up of Criminal Injuries Relief and Rehabilitation Boards at the district, State and national levels. While the National and State Boards would be primarily responsible for coordinating and monitoring implementation of the Scheme, the District Boards would decide the claims made under the Scheme and provide financial assistance as well as order such other support services as may be essential for the victim. The National and State Boards would have the power to undertake suo moto inquiry into complaints and refer the case to the relevant District Board. Representatives from various Government departments, medical professionals and eminent civil society experts would constitute the Boards.

(v)               Easy procedures devised: In order to ensure that women are able to get the benefits under the Scheme with minimum constraints, harassment and delays, the Scheme provides that:-

(a)   Application for assistance is to be filed in a simple and easy to use proforma within 60 days

(b)   The police have an obligation to forward every FIR, Medical Report & Preliminary Investigation Report within 72 hrs to the District Board.

(c)   In case the above documents are not received from the police, the Board may call for them from the concerned authorities, once an application is filed, thereby ensuring that the victim does not have to undertake the tedious task of approaching the relevant authorities

(d)   The interim relief and support services are to be provided within 15 days & not later than 3 weeks

(e)   The final assistance of Rs 1.30 lakhs is required to be provided within 1 month of her evidence in criminal trial or 1 year of filing the FIR, where recording of evidence has been delayed for reasons beyond her control

(vi)             Devolution of Funds: The funds would devolve as grant-in-aid to the State Government, on the recommendation of the National Board.  The State Government will further disburse the funds to the District Boards, which would be drawn by the District Collector/District Magistrate who is the Chairperson of the Board.

(vii)            Other provisions: There is a provision for rejection of claims to guard against misuse of the Scheme. The Scheme also provides for periodic monitoring and evaluation of its implementation by the Government.

 

The Scheme has been included in the 11th Plan. It is proposed to launch the proposed Scheme as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with 100% Central funding during the 11th Plan period at an estimated expenditure of Rs 149 cr. for the year 2011-12 towards providing financial assistance, meeting the expenses incurred for providing the support services and for payment of sitting fee and TA/DA of non-official members of the Boards.

The proposed Scheme was approved by EFC on 19th October, 2010, which recommended the launch of the Scheme. The Finance Ministry has also concurred with the proposal. The process of obtaining necessary approvals from the Planning Commission for release of funds under the Scheme is being undertaken.

It is proposed to evaluate the implementation of the Scheme before the 12th Plan and to consider sharing of costs between the Centre and the States at that stage.

Members from Lok Sabha Shri Eknath M. Galkwad, Smt. Jaishreeben Patel and Smt.  Jhansi Laxmi Botcha and Smt. Bimla Kashyap Sood from Rajya Sabha attended the meeting.

 

YSK : PM

(Release ID :68507)

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