New Delhi [India], Dec 5 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Thursday expressed concern over misuse of victim compensation fund which is provided to rape victims and ordered reopening of cases wherein compensation was paid despite the finding that no offence was committed.
While acquitting a man of rape on the ground that the relationship was consensual, Justice RK Gauba said, "There have been stories of false claims for compensation under the criminal law floating around for many a year."
The man, who was represented by advocate Sharad Malhotra (DHCLSC) and advocate Harshit Chopra, was accused of raping his niece and was convicted by a trial court.
"This criminal appeal assailing conviction on a charge of rape, notwithstanding the testimony of the prosecutrix (victim) conceding the relationship to be consensual, has led to the revelation of a pattern of irresponsible exercise of jurisdiction vis-a-vis victim compensation scheme necessitating measures to be taken so as to curb misuse of public money," the court said.
The court observed that the victim was awarded compensation by a trial court as well as the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DLSA) under the Delhi Victim Compensation Scheme, 2015.
"This case, however, has given rise to certain concerns about the directions for payment of compensation to the prosecutrix by the trial court and the action taken thereupon by the legal services authority," the court said.
The victim was paid compensation of Rs 3 lakhs in one go despite the direction of having the same be distributed in a phased manner. Taking note of the casual approach in the disbursement of the compensation, Justice R K Gauba highlighted several cases where the alleged victims were paid compensation despite the courts' findings that the offence had not been committed.
The court cited several cases to state that they "seem to only confirm the possibility of such theories being true".
"Since the data which has come up before this court is limited to one year (2017), and out of the total 247 cases in which interim compensation was paid in that year by the DSLSA, only 72 have reportedly reached some conclusive stage (till the time of compilation of data), what may have revealed itself as gross abuse may be only tip of an iceberg."
Calling the misuse as "grossly irresponsible use of public funds", the court ordered reopening of the cases wherein compensation had been paid despite the finding that no offence had been committed.
"The Member Secretary, DSLSA shall arrange for appropriate scrutiny of all such past cases where interim compensation was awarded (including those of 2017 noted earlier) and take necessary measures for recovery in accordance with law of such amounts as have been wrongfully paid," the court said while passing various direction," it said.
The court also directed that to take measures and hold sensitization programmes so that there is no abuse of the Victim Compensation Fund and such that it attains its intended objectives.
The court asked The Member Secretary, DSLSA to formulate the standard operating procedure to release the funds in a phased manner and create a permanent mechanism for monitoring of the progress and result of investigation or trial of all such cases in which interim relief of compensation has been provided under the Victim Compensation Scheme.
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