The court should provide to the victim whatever psychological security and sense of empowerment that monetary compensation can give: High Court of Delhi

Insofar as the State of Delhi is concerned, if a victim applies for compensation to the DLSA or DSLSA, the concerned authority is required to assess and pay compensation under and in accordance with the DVC Scheme 2018; however, if a victim applies for compensation under section 33(8) before the special POCSO court, the DVC Scheme 2018 is not binding but serves merely as a ‘guideline’ for the court to assess and pay compensation, whether at the interim or final stage. This was held in MST. X (THROUGH MOTHER AND NATURAL GUARDIAN) v. STATE & ORS. [W.P. (Crl.) No. 1419/2020] in the High Court of Delhi by a single bench consisting of JUSTICE ANUP JAIRAM BHAMBHANI.

Facts are that the Petitioner is the victim and had been subjected to sexual assault, abuse, and sodomy by his uncle in the victim’s own house. The prosecution of the accused is underway and is presently at the stage of prosecution evidence. The learned Sessions Court had awarded to the petitioner, who was the victim of the offense, interim compensation of Rs. 50,000/-. The petition had been filed against the same order for the reason of it being flawed with respect to the quantum of interim compensation.

The counsel for the Petitioners contended that the learned ASJ had failed to appreciate that interim compensation is to be granted to a minor victim of sexual abuse, to enable the victim and his family to overcome the incident and to compensate for the damaging effect on the victim’s psyche and to help rehabilitate the victim into society; for ‘relief’ and ‘rehabilitation’; and not merely to cover for the expenses to be incurred for the time being.

The Additional Standing Counsel (Criminal) appeared on behalf of the State submitted that though the Delhi Victim Compensation Scheme is funded by the Government of NCT of Delhi, the scheme is administered by the Delhi State Legal Services Authority and that therefore it is necessary to implead DSLSA as a party-respondent to the present proceedings.

The court made reference to statutory framework and judicial precedents including section 357A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, Section 33 POCSO Act in relation to compensation to children who are victims of sexual offenses under the provisions of the POCSO Act, Rule 7 POCSO Rules, 2012 and Rule 9 POCSO Rules. The court also made reference to the provisions of the DVC Scheme 2018.

The court also referred to the judgment delivered by the Supreme Court in Nipun Saxena vs. Union of India, where it had been observed that “NALSA’s Compensation Scheme should function as a guideline to the Special Court for the award of compensation to victims of child sexual abuse under Rule 7 until the Rules are finalized by the Central Government. The Special Judge will, of course, take the provisions of the POCSO Act into consideration as well as any circumstances that are special to the victim while passing an appropriate order. We need not emphasize that the legislation is gender-neutral and, therefore, the guidelines will be applicable to all children.”

Considering the facts of the petition and keeping in mind the law and precedents the court held that the learned ASJ was not bound by the DVC Scheme 2018, the same would at best serve as ‘guidelines’ for assessment of compensation payable to the petitioner. Thus the court directed Delhi State Legal Services Authority to disburse and pay to the petitioner interim compensation in the sum of Rs. 6,00,000/- to be utilized only for the benefit and welfare of the petitioner.

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