Supreme Court bats for minor rape survivors

The Supreme Court ordered that minor survivors of rape or sexual assault will get compensation on par with women victims.

Minor survivors of rape or sexual assault will get compensation on par with women victims. National Legal Services Authority’s (NALSA) compensation scheme for women rape and sexual assault survivors shall be extended to minor children.

Special Judges under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act should disburse compensation to minor victims of sex abuse as per the NALSA’s ‘Compensation Scheme for Women Victims/Survivors of Sexual Assault/Other Crimes-2018’.

The NALSA compensation scheme:

The NALSA scheme provides a uniform payment of ₹ 5 lakh to a maximum ₹ 10 lakh for “loss of life” and to gang-rape survivors in any part of the country. Similarly, in the case of rape and unnatural sexual assault, the victim would get a minimum of ₹4 lakh and a maximum of ₹ 7 lakh as compensation.

Among other categories, if a victim suffers the loss of the fetus, that is, by miscarriage as a result of assault or loss fertility, the NALSA scheme offers a compensation of ₹ 2 lakh to 3 lakh.

The scheme provides a victim of acid attacks, in case of disfigurement of the face, would get a minimum compensation of ₹ 7 lakh, while the upper limit would be ₹ 8 lakh. In acid attack cases, if the injury was more than 50%, a minimum compensation of ₹ 5 lakh would be given, while the maximum would be ₹ 8 lakh.

The NALSA scheme would be made applicable to minor victims from October 2 until the Centre frames compensation guidelines under the POCSO.

The order is a product of the legal efforts undertaken by senior advocate Indira Jaising, who has lent her expertise in the case for uniform compensation for rape survivors. The case had begun in the Supreme Court with Ms. Jaising raising her voice against the dormant state of the Nirbhaya funds. She has argued that compensation for sex abuse survivors should be a source of financial solace for victims of sex crimes and acid attacks during the court trial.

NALSA has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, to provide free legal services to weaker sections of society. The aim is to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reasons of economic or other disabilities.

NALSA organizes Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes.

NALSA identifies specific categories of the marginalized and excluded groups and formulates various schemes for the implementation of preventive and strategic legal service programmes.

Services provided by the agency include free legal aid in civil and criminal matters for the poor and marginalized people who cannot afford the services of a lawyer in any court or tribunal.

Free legal services include the provision of aid and advice to beneficiaries to access the benefits under the welfare statutes and schemes and to ensure access to justice in any other manner.

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