Fri. Jun 18th, 2021

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Can't Undo Offence: Court Orders Compensation To Sexual Assault Survivor

The court was informed that the survivor belonged to extremely weak financial background (File)

New Delhi:

The Delhi High Court has awarded Rs 6 lakh interim compensation to a six-year-old survivor of sexual assault, observing that thought the system cannot undo the offence it can provide psychological security or empowerment with monetary help besides prosecuting the offender.

The high court, which set aside the trial court’s order awarding Rs 50,000 interim compensation to the boy-child, enhanced the amount to Rs 6 lakh saying the previous sum was low, to say the least.

Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani said that while attempting to quantify the compensation payable to the survivor even at the interim stage, the court’s effort should be to offer monetary recompense, to the extent possible, for atonement of the crime.

The court noted that the boy-child was subjected to physical and mental trauma and emotional scar was left on his psyche.

“Since the system cannot turn the clock back nor “undo” the offence, there is little else the court can do other than prosecute the offender and provide to the survivor whatever psychological security and sense of empowerment that monetary compensation can give,” the high court.

The 6-year-old boy was allegedly subjected to sexual assault, abuse and sodomy by his uncle in his own house in 2020 and the prosecution of the accused is underway, at the stage of recording evidence.

The court was informed that the survivor belonged to extremely weak financial background with a mother who works as a housemaid and a bed-ridden father and the family’s monthly household income is about Rs 6,000 in which four members are to sustain.

Advocate Prabhsahay Kaur, representing the child, contended that the additional sessions judge has failed to appreciate that even at interim stage the compensation is to be granted to a minor who is survivor of sexual abuse to enable the him or her and the family to overcome the incident.

She said the child needs to be compensated for the damaging effect on the survivor’s psyche and to help rehabilitate him or her into the society, for relief and rehabilitation and not merely to cover for the expenses to be incurred for the time being.

The high court directed the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) to disburse the amount to the child forthwith and clarified that the interim compensation shall be subject to adjustment against the final compensation awarded by the trial court on conclusion of the trial.

“It is not hard to see that apart from the actual expenses that would be incurred for the petitioner’s psychological counselling and treatment at a specialised institution like IHBAS, as recommended by the Child Welfare Committee in its report, it would also be necessary to put money in the hands of the petitioner’s family, to arrange for the petitioner to safely attend the school he was attending earlier or some other school and to cater to his educational needs,” it said.

The survivor’s counsel argued that taking the Delhi Victim Compensation (DVC) Scheme, 2018 as a benchmark, interim compensation awarded should have been somewhere between Rs 6 lakh and Rs 10.5 lakh.

The Delhi government’s counsel said the DVC scheme was not a binding on the trial court and since no basis was provided in the application under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for calculating the compensation, the trial court awarded the minimum threshold amount of Rs 50,000.

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