The Maharashtra government has decided to grant Rs 10 lakh under the revised version of the Manodhairya scheme which was implemented in 2013. The revised Manodhairya scheme was submitted before the Bombay High Court on Wednesday, 29 November.
The Manodhairya Yojana by the Maharashtra government is a scheme to compensate rape, acid attack and child abuse survivors, only in the rarest of rare cases.
According to Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, as per the revised policy, apart from monetary compensation, the government will also give counselling to the victim and vocational or educational training, if required.
The revised proposal of Manodhairya scheme was presented before a division bench of Bombay HC Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice MS Sonak after several objections were raised pertaining to changes in the scheme by the government in August. One of the changes which were suggested in the Manodhairya scheme was giving lesser compensation in cases where rape of non-working women leads to her death as opposed to a working woman. This was questioned by the High Court for being discriminatory leading to the Advocate General Kumbhakoni withdrawing the suggestion and adding that the compensation would be kept at Rs 10 lakh in both instances.
The High Court asked, “Why are you discriminating between working and non-working woman? The services of a homemaker cannot be measured or valued in money.” According to the Manodhairya proposal, in case of a working woman, it was said that if a working woman died in such a mishap she will be entitled to Rs 10 lakh while a non-working woman would be entitled to Rs 5 lakh. The new changes propose that both a working woman and one who is not working are entitled to a compensation of Rs 10 lakh.
The proposed changes were incorporated in the scheme after a committee was set-up by the Chief Justice Chellur that included two High Court Judges to look into the various grievances raised by public interest litigations. The committee, after meeting with all stakeholders, came up with the proposal of the revised scheme.
The proposed scheme states, “The state government shall issue an appropriate Government resolution specifying the date with effect from which the scheme shall come into force. The scheme shall only apply to those who are victims, in terms of the scheme offences committed on and after the date of coming into force of this scheme.”
The scheme will not have any retrospective effect. The power and authority to receive applications seeking benefits and to decide on claims and disburse accounts have been given to the State Legal Services Authorities or District Legal Services Authority. The benefits will be granted only by the authority, on submission of several documents by the victim or the kin of the victim like FIR documents, relevant medical reports, to name a few.
“It is expected that the victims will fully support the case of the prosecution at least to the extent of the statements recorded the Criminal Court of Procedure. It is made clear that in case if the court is conducting the trial records conclusive finding that the victim has deliberately not supported the case of the prosecution… the state government will be entitled to recover the monetary benefits granted under the scheme from the victims,” the scheme says.
In case of victims who get “mentally retarded, traumatised and incur permanent disability,” which may be physical or mental, will be entitled to Rs 10 lakh along with cases where a woman is subjected to gang rape and has suffered serious and grievous physical injury. The cases which are not covered by any compensation category will remain at Rs 3 lakh. In case of child abuse, where the minor child irrespective of sex gets traumatised or gets mentally retarded or incurs permanent disability, will be entitled to Rs 10 lakh.
Acid attack victims whose faces have been disfigured and they face any physical disabilities will be getting a compensation of Rs 10 lakh. A woman who “gets HIV due to the unfortunate incident of rape” will be entitled to get requisite medical treatment apart from the compensation.
Compensation under the scheme yet to be received
More than 1300 victims and survivors of serious crimes like rape and acid attack who were sanctioned compensation under the state-run Manodhairya scheme from October 2013 to January 2017 were not paid the amount, said a report by The Indian Express. This information came to light through an affidavit filed by the organisation ‘Forum Against Oppression of Women’. It had filed a petition in the High Court which led to the implementation of the Manodhairya scheme in 2013.
The affidavit says, “Only 57% of sexual assault cases registered by police are referred to Women and Child Development department for purposes of receiving compensation under the said scheme. Out of the cases that are referred, only 79.2% are sanctioned compensation. Out of the cases where compensation is sanctioned only 75.25% of the women actually receive compensation. The average compensation paid is only Rs 1,71537.6. In most cases, the police are unable to trace the survivors for the purpose of providing compensation. Out of the total registered cases, only 34% of the women have received any compensation.”
One of the issues pointed out with the scheme is that 75% of the compensation awarded to the victim has to be kept in a fixed deposit for a period of 10 years and the remaining 25% will be given to the victim. In case the victim is a minor, the government resolution states that the amount is to be kept as a deposit for 20 years. Any interim compensation cannot exceed Rs 25,000.