Five years on, victim compensation law finally becomes reality

Five years on, victim compensation law finally becomes reality

Nagpur: The recent judgment in the murder of Monica Kirnapure has brought to light a rarely-used provision for victim compensation under a state government scheme.

Although a law mandating the creation of such a scheme was passed by the union government five-and-a-half-years ago, the scheme has only recently seen the light of day in Maharashtra. On February 3 this year, the state government provided Rs1.23 crore to Maharashtra Legal Services Authority (MALSA) to start the scheme.

Subsequently, DISHA, an Amravati-based NGO, which had filed a public interest litigation in this regard, has helped victims or their families get compensation in three cases. The PIL, seeking implementation of the law for providing financial assistance to victims, was filed in 2013.

Rohini Ingale, whose father was murdered in 2011, said, “Our family got a compensation cheque for Rs2 lakh a month ago. With this amount, I have been able to study further for MPSC exams, while my younger brother cleared the HSC exams this year.” Rohini’s younger brother had discontinued his studies for a year after his father’s death because of the added responsibility that the tragedy in the family brought on.

Speaking to TOI, Pravin Khandpasole, secretary of DISHA, mentioned a case where an amount of Rs70,000 was awarded to a rape survivor. The girl, merely 8 years old at the time, had been admitted to hospital for 20 days after the incident.

“While the incident took place in 2012, the Manodhairya scheme (for compensation to rape survivors) came about only in the following year. So, she would not have got benefit of that scheme.”

On the last day of 2009, the union government added section 357A to the Code of Criminal Procedure, mandating state governments to create a scheme for providing financial assistance to victims of crime.

However, in November last year, the Maharashtra Legal Services Authority told the high court that although it is willing to implement the scheme, it has not been able to do so because of the lack of funds from the state government.

On January 28 this year, the high court gave a “final chance” to the state government to deposit Rs1.23 crores for the scheme within a week, stating that it would take steps against it if it failed to do so. Following the court’s order, the money was deposited.

Khandpasole said, “Previously, the only provision for compensation was through a fine imposed on the accused. With the new scheme, victims can be given relief even if no accused person is identified, or the case ends in acquittal.”

Further, he said, “We did a study of more than 150 murder cases, where we found that the negative effects on the family of the victim were seen within a few days. So, the financial help needs to come immediately after the incident, not much later after the conviction.”


Monica Kirnapure judgment: Parents “treated daughter as son”

The sessions court, while awarding compensation to parents of Monica Kirnapure, observed that they had “treated their daughter as a son” and that their situation could not be ignored.

Additional sessions judge M W Chandwani said in his judgment, “Evidently, the deceased Monica, who had nothing to do with the accused person, had been killed for no reason. Her parents, who have no son, treated their daughter as a son and had sent Monica for higher education to Nagpur at a high cost.”

Even as the judge made these observations, the parents, while reacting to the verdict, appeared to refer to the futility of the recent attempts for gender equality by questioning the relevance of the “Beti Bachao” campaign amid concerns over women’s security.

“They (parents) might have dreamed of a bright future for her and for themselves. I am conscious that no amount can replace Monica, but as a token of courtesy, the parents of Monica are required to be compensated,” the judge said.

The court ordered a compensation of Rs1.15 lakh through a fine imposed on the accused person, in addition to the life imprisonment awarded to them. Further, it also recommended that the parents should be compensated through the scheme envisaged by the provision added to the Code of Criminal Procedure in 2009.

The court asked the District Legal Services Authority to decide the amount to be awarded to the family.


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