Give Details of Money Under Nirbhaya Fund: SC to States

The bench asked the NALSA director whether there was any provision to re-appropriate the unspent funds.

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday, 9 November, asked all states and union territories (UTs) to come out with details of the money they have received from the Centre under the Nirbhaya fund scheme and the amounts disbursed as compensation to the victims of sexual assaults and acid attacks.

A bench comprising Justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta, while asking all the states and UTs to file their responses within four weeks on receipt and disbursal of funds, rued the fact that they do not respond.

"Let me tell you (senior advocate Indira Jaising who is assisting the bench as an amicus curiae), they do not (respond)," the bench said when Jaising submitted that states are under obligation to respond and should be asked to give details of the funds received and disbursed under the Nirbhaya scheme.

The Nirbhaya fund was announced by the Centre in 2013, following the gruesome gang-rape and murder of a young girl in Delhi on 16 December 2012. The scheme is meant to support the initiatives of governments and NGOs working towards the safety of women.

Meanwhile, the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), represented by its director SS Rathi, informed the court that it has prepared a draft of ‘Model Rules for Victim Compensation’ for sexual offences and acid attacks in pursuance of the court’s earlier direction and would submit it later.

The NALSA director said that the procedures and the mode adopted in Delhi in awarding compensation to victims of sexual assaults and acid attacks have been considered while preparing the draft model rules.

In Delhi, such victims are awarded money within 24 hours after a decision to this effect.
SS Rathi

During the hearing, the bench asked the NALSA director whether there was any provision to re-appropriate the unspent funds awarded to NALSA and the State Legal Services Authority.

The bench has now posted the matter for further hearing on 15 February, when it would deal with states' response on receipt and disbursal of funds under Nirbhaya scheme and otherwise.

Earlier, the Centre had told the apex court that it was finding it difficult to get the cooperation of states on the issue relating to disbursal of compensation to the victims of sexual assault under the Nirbhaya scheme.

Jaising had informed the court that she had gone through 36 schemes related to compensation to be disbursed to victims of sexual assault under the Nirbhaya fund and has extracted the best practices which could be looked into by the bench.

The top court on 22 September 2017, had said it would hear the submissions of the amicus and the Centre on how best to evolve an integrated and cohesive system of payment of compensation to victims of sexual assault and also about steps to rehabilitate these victims or at least reduce or eliminate the trauma they have undergone.

Later, it asked the NALSA and others to devise a model rules on award of compensation to rape and acid attack victims.

Six petitions were filed in the Supreme Court after the gang-rape case in Delhi on 16 December 2012. All the petitions were tagged by the apex court and several directions have been issued from time-to-time in this regard.

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