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Maharashtra govt says it has no money to compensate rape, abuse victims

Govt draws High Court ire by its claim that it has no money to compensate 1,194 beneficiaries of Manodhairya Yojana; court orders disbursement in a month

The state government earned the Bombay High Court’s ire yesterday when it revealed that it has no funds for 1,194 of the eligible 3,714 beneficiaries of the Manodhairya Yojana. The scheme, rolled out in 2013 after the Shakti Mills gang rape, aims at providing compensation, legal aid, medical help, counselling and vocational training to survivors of rape, child abuse and acid attacks.

The scheme aims at providing compensation, legal aid, medical help, counselling and vocational training to survivors of rape, child abuse and acid attacks. File pic for representation
The scheme aims at providing compensation, legal aid, medical help, counselling and vocational training to survivors of rape, child abuse and acid attacks. File pic for representation

The court directed the state to ensure that all eligible beneficiaries are adequately compensated within a month, and to submit a list of all beneficiaries in the city and a progress report in the next three weeks.

A bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Amjad Sayed was hearing a PIL filed in January 2013 by the Forum Against Oppression of Women (FAOW). The petitioner had demanded that the state follow the Supreme Court’s 1995 order on compensation and rehabilitation for rape survivors. The apex court had ordered the establishment of a Criminal Injuries Compensation Board that could determine the amount to be paid by rapists to survivors. Senior counsel Mihir Desai, the petitioner’s representative, asked the bench to correct the deficiencies in the Manodhairya scheme.

Unacceptable reply
At yesterday’s hearing, the state was asked to submit a report on the number of people who have been compensated to date under the scheme.

When Justice Oka saw a column in the state’s affidavit stating that 1,194 beneficiaries had not been compensated due to funds crunch, the excuse was unacceptable to him. “When the scheme states that you should give compensation to those eligible within 15 days of registering an FIR, how can you cite non-availability of funds?” he asked the state government’s pleader, Prajakata Shinde.

The state was then told to make sure all eligible beneficiaries are compensated within a month. “In the next three weeks, come up with detailed figures on how many people have been given the money, how many have not, and if so, why; how many people had applied [for compensation] under the scheme, and how many were rejected and why,” directed the court.

The state was also told to submit figures on disbursement of compensation across the state within the next six weeks.

The relief

Under the Manodhairya Yojana, survivors of sexual abuse, including children, should be given a relief of Rs 2-3 lakh, and acid attack victims Rs 50,000, which can go up to Rs 3 lakh in case of permanent disfigurement and handicap.

As per the government affidavit, 4,809 survivors have applied for benefits of the scheme since 2013. Compensation has been disbursed to 1,999 beneficiaries.

The department of women and child development is responsible for the paucity in funds. It had sanctioned Rs 15 crore in 2013 for the scheme, but has released only Rs 5 crore to date.

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