Improving Compensation Schemes for Victims of Abuse

5 October 2019

On 5 October 2019, in Mumbai, Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority (MSLSA) and International Justice Mission (IJM), hosted a one-day, State-Level Conference to discuss challenges, clarify procedures and map the way forward for the smooth implementation of victim compensation under Manodhairya Compensation Scheme, National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) Compensation Scheme 2018, for Women Victims / Survivors of Sexual Assault / Other Crimes, and Section 357 and 357-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.).

The Manodhairya Scheme is a Government of Maharashtra State Scheme for victims of rape, sexual abuse and acid attack,within the state. This scheme is facilitated through the District / State Level Legal Services Authority, and victims are entitled to get monetary compensation up to ₹10 lacs (amended in 2018), as well as legal, medical, psychological and vocational support.

The NALSA Compensation Scheme is a Central Government Scheme that aids those victims who have undergone sexual abuse and physical violence. The scheme calls for compensation to be paid to the victim, either out of the fine amount imposed on the accused as under section 357 of Cr.P.C., or as per the amount granted by the State, based on the order passed by the appropriate court in this regard as under section 357 A of Cr.P.C.

The state conference was inaugurated by Chief Guest, Hon'ble Shri. Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari, Judge, Bombay High Court and Executive Chairman, MSLSA, in the august presence of Hon'ble Shri. Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, Advocate General, State of Maharashtra, Hon'ble Smt. Justice Mridula Bhatkar, Former Judge, Bombay High Court, Shri. Shrikant D. Kulkarni, Member Secretary, MSLSA, Mumbai, Shri. Amitabh Gupta, Principal Secretary, Special Home Department, Smt. I.A. Kundan, Secretary, Department of Women and Child Development and Shri. Sadashiv S. Deshmukh, Retired Principal District Judge, Member of MSLSA, Mumbai.

Hon'ble Shri. Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari, positively said, “This conference is a step in the right direction to evaluate the challenges that deter implementation of the compensation schemes. Ensuring that victims are compensated effectively and in a timely manner will help survivors gain confidence in the legal system’s ability to provide them the support they need.”

Shri. Shrikant D. Kulkarni emphasized, “Today’s discourse, around identifying barriers that prevent the efficient delivery of victim compensation schemes, is only the beginning. The Maharashtra State and Legal Services Authority is dedicated towards actioning solutions that put the holistic restoration of victims at the forefront.”

Eminent jurists, officers of the Department of Women and Child Development, office of the Director General of Police, Public Health Department, Legal Service Lawyers from all 36 districts, Academia and NGOs from across the State of Maharashtra, deliberated and strategized ways to strengthen implementation of the schemes. Over 150 people were in attendance.

“This multi-stakeholder conference is an effort towards ensuring swift and sensitive processes when compensation is being awarded to victims. IJM is confident that this conference will aid the objective and that the Government will take steps to include those currently left out, namely victims of trafficking who have been commercially sexually exploited.” added Ms. Melissa Walavalkar, Director of Operations, International Justice Mission (IJM).