New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the special courts to award compensation to sexually abused children on the lines of a NALSA scheme for victims of sexual assaults and acid attacks, till the Centre finalises the rules.
A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Deepak Gupta took into account the fact that the Centre had not framed any rules under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act on the basis of which special courts could award compensation to minor victims and directed that NALSA scheme be used as a guiding factor for the purpose.
The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) had framed the ‘Compensation Scheme for Women Victims/Survivors of Sexual Assault/Other Crimes-2018’, which the top court has accepted.
The bench said: “… we are of the opinion that the NALSA compensation scheme should function as guidelines for special courts (under the POCSO Act) to award compensation to the victims of sexual abuses until rules are finalised by the central government.”
The court added that the guidelines would come into force across the country from October 2 and it would be gender neutral.
The special courts would take into consideration the POCSO Act, which is gender neutral, as well as the circumstances of the cases while awarding interim compensation to the minor victims of sexual assaults, the bench added.
The special courts will also consider that interim compensation thus awarded was not misused or misutilised.
The bench also ordered that wide publicity should be given to the scheme as well as the apex court order on a regular basis till the rules are finalised.
On July 25, the top court had said that NALSA’s scheme for compensating victims of sexual assault and acid attacks should be made applicable to child victims of such assaults.
The NALSA scheme gives compensation slabs for victims of sexual assault, acid attacks and even loss of foetuses, and earmarks a minimum Rs 5 lakh and Rs 7 lakh respectively for women who go through a crisis after sexual or acid attacks.
A minimum of Rs 5 lakh is to be paid in case of loss of life or gang rape and maximum of Rs 10 lakh. A minimum of Rs 4 lakh is to be paid in case of rape or unnatural sexual assault, with the maximum fixed at Rs 7 lakh.
In case of victims of burning and acid attacks, the minimum compensation will be Rs 7 lakh for total disfigurement, with a maximum of Rs 8 lakh. Rs 5 lakh has been fixed in case of 50 per cent burns, while the upper limit is Rs 8 lakh.
For loss of limb or body part resulting in 80 per cent permanent disability, Rs 2 lakh is to be given, with Rs 2 lakh in case of grievous physical injury.
The scheme provides that in case of pregnancy on account of rape, the victim will get between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 4 lakh, while for miscarriage or loss of fertility due to such assaults, the amount will be between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 3 lakh.
After the gang-rape and murder of Nirbhaya in Delhi on December 16, 2012, the Central government had announced the Nirbhaya Fund scheme in 2013 to support state governments and NGOs working for women’s safety.
The court was hearing petitions filed after the 2012 case, raising concerns over the safety and security of women.
Earlier, NALSA had told the apex court that hardly 5-10 per cent of sexual assault victims across the country were able to get compensation under the relevant schemes in various states.