Orissa High Court: It is not Required to Forward Victim Compensation Claims to Administration Through “Legal Services Authority”

In the case of, Sukuludei Santa v. Govt. of Odisha & Ors, (Case No.: W.P.(C) No. 12252 of 2022), according to the Orissa High Court, a victim is not need to submit his or her demands for compensation to the proper body through the Legal Services Authorities (LSA). Furthermore, it made it clear that the LSAS’s sole purpose is to support claimants in their communications with the administration. Justice Arindam Sinha‘s single-judge bench noted, “It was not possible to demonstrate that the Legal Services Authorities Act of 1987 requires victims seeking compensation to submit their claims to the administration through the authority. The administration has a compensation policy. The authority only helps claimants move the administration along.”

Facts: The petitioner is a woman in her sixties-seventies. In 2019, her husband was killed. The petitioner had appealed for victim compensation at the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA), Koraput, following his murder as the only wage earner in the household. Despite her repeated attempts to contact the DLSA, the employees always informed her that they had not received any such directive from the authorities. After that, she requested information via RTI from the DLSA Office, which revealed that a victim compensation case was in fact registered in the petitioner’s name. Due to the inaction of the relevant authorities, the petitioner was forced to turn to the High Court under its writ jurisdiction for a resolution of her complaints after receiving no satisfactory results from the DLSA.

Judgement: The court noted that the petitioner presented a copy of the 13 April 2019 FIR along with her husband’s death certificate, which listed the date of death as 9 April 2019. The abovementioned FIR was also lodged against unidentified individuals. Examining the FIR indicated that the offence was allegedly committed between April 9 and April 10, 2019. On April 13, 2019, information was delivered to the police station. The informant named in the FIR is the deceased person’s uncle, the court further stated. The deceased was reported missing on April 9, 2019, around 8:00 p.m., and was later discovered the next day in a field belonging to a man named Bhaga Santa. It was concluded that since the death certificate indicates that the deceased passed away on April 9, 2019, it is obvious that a body was discovered. It made it clear that there is no requirement under the Legal Services Authorities Act of 1987 to move victim compensation claims through DLSAS/LSAs on a mandatory basis. So, it came to this conclusion: “In order to aid the government in carrying out its compensation program, the court has gone to great lengths to study the facts. It is proposed that opposite party no. 3 be recommended on behalf of the State. The petitioner will present this order to the third opposing party. It is required of such opposing party to address the petitioner’s demand for compensation, advocate its immediate disbursement, and notify the petitioner of the outcome within three weeks of the approach.”

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