Maharashtra government to HC: Will revise Manodhairya scheme to hike compensation

Nov 29, 2017, 20:51 IST | PTI

Facing flak over its "insensitive attitude" towards victims of rape and other women-related offences, the Maharashtra government today told the Bombay High Court that it would revise the Manodhairya scheme

Facing flak over its "insensitive attitude" towards victims of rape and other women-related offences, the Maharashtra government today told the Bombay High Court that it would revise the Manodhairya scheme, raising the monetary compensation to victims to Rs 10 lakh.

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Under the Manodhairya Yojana launched in October 2013, the state government gives a compensation of Rs 3 lakh to victims of rape and other crimes against women. Apart from the monetary compensation, the government will also provide counselling to the victim and vocational or educational training, if required.

However, the high court, while hearing a bunch of petitions on the issue, had earlier said the Maharashtra government was "insensitive" towards such victims and that it should follow the footsteps of the Goa government, which awards compensation up to Rs 10 lakh.

The high court had formed a committee with two judges and bureaucrats from the state's women and child department to evolve a model scheme. The committee today submitted a 16-page scheme, proposed to be revised, to a division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice M S Sonak. Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbakoni told the court that the state government has agreed to implement the scheme submitted by the committee.

According to the proposed scheme, in rape cases, where the victim suffers mental retardation or incurs permanent physical or mental disability; in gangrape cases; minor victims of sexual assaults and acid attack cases, the victim will get a relief of Rs 10 lakh. In rape case which leads to death of a woman and in case she was a working woman, the legal heir will get Rs 10 lakh and in case of a non-working woman, the legal heir will get Rs five lakh, as per the scheme.

The high court took objection to this and said, "Why are you discriminating between working and non-working women? The services of a home maker cannot be measured or valued in money."

Kumbakoni then immediately said the amount would be increased to Rs 10 lakh even in case of a non-working woman. The revised scheme, however, shall apply only to the victims on whom offences are committed on and after the date of the scheme coming into effect. According to the scheme, the state government shall issue an appropriate government resolution specifying the date with effect from which it shall come into force.

Under the revised scheme, the State Legal Services Authority has been authorised to receive applications seeking compensation and take a decision on how much compensation should be awarded to the victim. "Every year there will be a separate budgetary allocation for this purpose," Kumbakoni said. He said in cases where after trial, the court finds that the case was false or the victim turned hostile, then the compensation awarded to the victim will be recovered.

According to the scheme, in order to provide immediate emotional support to the victims, the government shall set up a specially trained trauma team for each district. The team shall provide emotional support, guidance, medical help and psychiatric counselling free of cost. The team shall comprise a woman counsellor, medical officer and a lady police officer and they would undergo appropriate training.

As per the revised scheme, the State Legal Services Authority, within seven days of receiving an application from a victim seeking compensation, may disburse a sum of Rs 30,000 to her.

The authority shall decide the said application finally within a period of 120 days from the date of receipt thereof, according to the scheme. The bench, after perusing the scheme, directed secretary of the department concerned to file an affidavit and posted the matter for hearing tomorrow.

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