Rape is the most serious sexual offense against women. It is often considered a crime committed by a man against a woman. Cases of rape against women and children are increasing day by day throughout India. The victim of rape needs compensation as their life is disturbed and is unable to face the society due to less importance. The humiliation of the victim that is snuffed out cannot be compensated but at least the monetary compensation may help in the victim’s rehabilitation. This paper highlights the compensation to victims of rape and also the laws relating to it.
The primary purpose of criminal law is to protect the rights and interests of the individuals, society, and state from the criminals by punishing the accused of violating the law. Criminal law generally deals with various types of crimes and each crime has respective punishments. One such crime is the sexual offenses against women, of which rape is a part. The victims of rape usually suffer a lot because of the tragic incident. Hence, compensation is important to a victim for rehabilitation, especially in a society where the victim of rape is treated worse than the perpetrator. Because compensation can only help the victims financially and helps her in maintaining a normal life in society.
Definition of Rape has been discussed under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and punishment of rape under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code. Rape is an act of sexual intercourse committed by a man against a woman. If a woman is raped by a group of people at the same time, each of them will be punished for committing the crime (Section 376D of IPC).
The right to compensation has been an integral part of the right to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
Shri Bodhisattwa Gautam v. Subhra Chakraborty
The accused had sexual relations with a woman on the pretext of marriage and even falsely married her before the family deity. The accused refused to make their relation revealed to his family members and finally abandoned her. The Supreme Court in this case observed that “Rape is a crime against the person of a woman and the entire society. It destroys the entire psychology of a woman. It pushes her into deep emotional crises. It is only by her will power that she rehabilitates herself in society. Therefore rape is the most hated crime. It is an offense against basic human rights and is also violative of Fundamental Rights of Right to Life contained in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.” The accused was ordered to pay an interim compensation of Rs 1,000 per month during the pendency of the case.
Compensation to victims under the Criminal Procedure Code
Compensation is given to the victim under section 357 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Subsection (1) directs the court to impose a sentence of fine or a death sentence of which fine forms a part, in its discretion, order the payment of compensation, out of the fine recovered, to a person for any loss or injury caused to him by the offense. However, such compensation can be awarded to the victims only when the substantial sentence is imposed and not in cases of acquittal.
Subsection (2) says that where a fine is charged in a case that is subject to appeal, no such payment shall be made before the period allowed for presenting the appeal has elapsed or if an appeal is presented before the decision of the appeal.
Subsection (3) provides that the court is empowered to grant compensation for loss or injury suffered by a person, even in cases where the fine does not form a part of the sentence.
Hari Kishan v. Sukhbir Singh
The apex court in this case highlights the importance of section 357 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The power to award compensation is not ancillary to other sentences but it is besides thereto. Section 357 is an important provision but the courts have seldom invoked it. The Apex court directed all the subordinate criminal courts to award compensation to the victims of the offenses in such a liberal way that they may not have to rush the civil courts for compensation.
Section 357 was incomplete as it is incapable of considering all the victims of crime. Under this section, compensation is awarded only when the trial is concluded. Hence, an amendment was made in 2009 by which Section 357A was inserted in the Criminal Procedure Code by the recommendations of the 154th Report of Law Commission. Section 357 provides that the compensation was to be paid by the accused only on a successful conviction. The state has no duty to compensate the victim. However, under Section 357A the liability is imposed on the state to compensate the victim who has suffered as a result of the crime. This section also focuses on rehabilitating the victim even when the accused is not tried.
Section 357A provides that,
- Every state government in coordination with the Central Government prepares a Victim Compensation Scheme. The victim of a crime will be able to claim compensation for the loss or injury suffered by them through this scheme. The liability has been imposed on the States to create and maintain a fund for the purpose (Section 357A (1)).
- A victim can get victim compensation in two ways. Firstly, the court which hears the victim’s case can recommend the case to the District Legal Service Authority or the State Legal Service Authority for compensation to the victim. The authorities will then decide the quantum of compensation to the victim as per the scheme existing in that state (Section 357A (2)). Secondly, the victim by making an application can directly approach the District Legal Service Authority or the State Legal Service Authority for compensation under section 357A (4). This section enables the victim to get compensation in cases where the offender is not traced or identified or where a trial has not taken place.
- The trial court also recommends for compensation in cases where the compensation awarded under section 357 is inadequate for rehabilitation or where the cases end in acquittal or discharge (Section 357A (3)).
- The District Legal Service Authority or the State Legal Service Authority, on receipt of such recommendation or an application, shall after due inquiry grant adequate compensation by completing the inquiry within two months (Section 357A (5)).
- The District Legal Service Authority or the State Legal Service Authority may also provide immediate first aid or medical benefits as well as any other interim relief as may be required to ease the suffering of the victim (Section 357A (6)).
Suresh v. State of Haryana
The object and purpose of Section 357A of Criminal Procedure Code are to enable the court to direct the state to pay compensation to the victim where the compensation under section 357 was not adequate or where the case ended in acquittal or discharge and the victim was required to be rehabilitated.
With this section 357A, the victim has the right to be rehabilitated and compensated regardless of the successful prosecution and identification of the owner.
The State Government entitled to pay compensation under section 357A shall be in addition to the payment of fine to the victim under sections 326A, 376AB, 376D, 376DA, and 376DB of the Indian Penal Code.
All hospitals public or private regardless of whether run by the Central Government, State Government, local bodies or any other person, shall immediately provide the first aid or medical treatment for free of cost to the victims of the offense covered under section 326A, 376, 376A, 376AB, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376DA, 376DB or section 376E of the Indian Penal Code. It shall also immediately inform the police of such incidents.
Development of Victim Compensation Scheme:
Almost all states have come up with the scheme to provide for payment of compensation and other reliefs to the victims who have suffered loss or injury as a result of the crime and require rehabilitation, which is by Section 357A. This is an important step for rape victims whose lives may come to a halt after a painful incident. The victim compensation schemes in different states are as follows:
- Arunachal Pradesh Victim Compensation Scheme, 2011
- Bihar Victim Compensation Scheme, 2011
- Victim Compensation Scheme, Chattisgarh, 2011
- Karnataka Victim Compensation Scheme, 2011
- Delhi Victim Compensation Scheme, 2011
- Assam Victim Compensation Scheme, 2012
- Goa Victim Compensation Scheme, 2012
- Himachal Pradesh (Victim of Crime) Compensation Scheme, 2012
- Odisha Victim Compensation Scheme, 2012
- Gujarat Victim Compensation Scheme, 2013
- Tamil Nadu Victim Compensation Scheme, 2013
- Uttar Pradesh Victim Compensation Scheme, 2014
- Madhya Pradesh Crime Victim Compensation Scheme, 2015
There is no uniform practice followed by these State Victim Compensation Schemes. Every state has its eligibility criteria and restrictive clauses. At first, the amount of compensation decided by each state under the Victim Compensation Schemes indicated a lot of discrepancies.
Tekan Alias Tekram v. the state of M.P
The Supreme Court observed that there was a huge level of discrepancy in the amount of compensation in rape cases decided by the states under their Victim Compensation Schemes. The Court then compared the amount of compensation given by different states to a victim of rape. The court observed that the victim compensation scheme in Jharkhand provided a maximum of Rs 20,000 as compensation to victims of rape, while the victim compensation scheme in Goa provided a maximum of Rs 10 lakhs for compensation to victims of rape. The court in this case ordered the state to pay Rs 8000 per month as compensation till her lifetime.
Re: Indian woman says gang-raped on orders of Village Court published in Business and Financial News dated 23.01.2014
This case relates to a gang rape of a woman in a village in West Bengal on the orders of community panchayat as punishment for having a relationship with a man from a different community. The state is required to make a payment of Rs 5 lakhs in addition to the sanctioned amount of Rs 50,000.
Taking into consideration of the discrepancy in compensation, the Centre in 2015 came up with the Central Victim Compensation Fund Scheme Guidelines.
Central Victim Compensation Fund Scheme
While the amount of compensation payable by each state has a wide discrepancy, the Central Victim Compensation Fund Scheme was issued with effect from August 2015. The object of this scheme is to reduce disparities in payment of compensation across states and encourage states to effectively implement the scheme (i.e. Central Victim Compensation Fund Scheme, 2015).
Under this Central scheme, an amount of Rs 200 has been sanctioned as an initial corpus fund to enable support to victims of rape, acid attacks, human trafficking, and women killed or injured in the cross border firing. Expenditure suffered by states may be reimbursed from the central fund. A uniform minimum amount of compensation has been fixed for all states which include Rs 3 lakhs for acid attack and rape victims, Rs 1 lakh for rehabilitation for victims of human trafficking, etc. In the case of victims less than the age of fourteen years, the compensation shall be increased by 50% over the amount specified. Few states have amended the scheme given the Central guidelines, except Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh.
Compensation Scheme for Women Victims/Survivors of Sexual Assault and other Crimes, 2018
In the case of Nipuna Saxena v. Union of India, the Supreme Court directed NALSA to constitute a committee to frame a model scheme for Victim Compensation for sexual offenses and acid attacks. Accordingly, NALSA finalized the ‘Compensation Scheme for Women Victims/Survivors of Sexual Assault and other Crimes, 2018’ which was accepted by the Supreme Court on May 11, 2018. This scheme is specially designed for victims of sexual assault and acid attacks and is an add-up to an already existing State Compensation Scheme. It also provides for both the minimum and maximum amount of compensation for the offenses listed in the scheme.
The scheme also provides provision for instant compensation which may range between Rs 5,000 – Rs 10,000 in deserving cases, which is to be paid instantly as and when the application is received or when the case is taken up for the first hearing. The scheme also highlights the minimum compensation for loss of life and gang rape cases is Rs 5 lakhs up to Rs 10 lakhs while for rape and unnatural sexual assault it is Rs 4 lakhs up to Rs 7 lakhs.
This scheme plays a significant role in the development and rehabilitation of female victims in society.
To conclude, the Legislature, Judiciary, Government, and NGOs have been showing vast consideration and efforts are taken to compensate victims of rape and to wipe out their tears. Today, rape is the most heinous crime in the world. The victims need compensation to maintain a peaceful life in society. Hence, Victim Compensation Scheme was amended to compensate for the loss suffered by the victims as well as to meet the rehabilitation needs. There is a serious lack of awareness in society regarding these schemes. The scheme must function for the benefit of the victim and all reasonable efforts must be made to facilitate the process. With the increase in rape cases every year, India needs a dedicated national authority to monitor and implement victim schemes for compensating victims of sexual offenses.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Who is a victim of crime?
Victim means any person who has suffered loss or injury caused by the reason of the act or omission for which the accused has been charged.
- What is the punishment of rape?
A person committing rape shall be punished with imprisonment of seven years up to ten years or which may be for life and shall also be liable to fine. It has been dealt with under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code.
- What is the punishment for acid attacks under the Indian Penal Code?
Under Section 326A of the Indian Penal Code, the minimum punishment for acid attacks is 10 years imprisonment which may extend to imprisonment for life with fine.
- Can a victim get compensation?
Yes, a victim can get compensation under the Victim Compensation Scheme.
- Who will provide compensation to the victim according to the scheme?
The State or District Legal Service Authority must award compensation to the victim.
- Shri Bodhisattwa Gautam v. Subhra Chakraborty, AIR 1996 SC 922.
- Hari Kishan v. Sukhbir Singh, AIR 1988 SC 2127.
- Suresh v. State of Haryana, Crl No. 420 of 2012.
- Tekan Alias Tekram v. the state of M.P, (2016) INSC 142.
- Re: Indian woman says gang-raped on orders of Village Court published in Business and Financial News dated 23.01.2014, (2014) 4 SCC 786.
- Nipuna Saxena v. Union of India, (2018) SCC OnLine SC 2772.
-  AIR 1996 SC 922
-  AIR 1988 SC 2127
-  Crl No. 420 of 2012
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-  (2016) INSC 142
-  (2014) 4 SCC 786
-  www.sascv.org/ijcjs/pdfs/DubeVol13Issue2IJCJS.pdf (last accessed on 20-07-2020)
-  https://vikaspedia.in/social-welfare/social-security/central-victim-compensation-fund-scheme-cvcf (last accessed on 20-02-2020)
-  (2018) SCC OnLine SC 2772
-  NALSA – National Legal Service Authority
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