The Supreme Court on Friday directed the West Bengal Govt to pay a compensation of `5 lakh to a girl who was gangraped by 13 men in Birbhum district and ordered free medical treatment to all victims of rape and acid attacks across the country.
The court held the state govt deficient in protecting the 20-year-old girl, who was gangraped on the order of a local panchayat for falling in love with a man outside her community, saying the state police machinery could have possibly prevented the said occurrence.
“Freedom of choice in marriage is a Fundamental Right and the state is duty bound to protect such rights of its citizens,” a Bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam, Justice S A Bobde and Justice N V Ramana said. “Such offences are resultant of the States’ incapacity to protect the Fundamental Rights of its citizens,” the Bench observed, and called for larger societal change through education and awareness as a long term measure to curb such crimes.
“The govt will have to implement policies in order to uplift the condition of women, sensitisation of police and other parties towards the need for gender equality with focus in areas where there is a higher percentage of crimes against women,” the Bench said. “Likewise, all hospitalswhether run by the Central Govt, the State Govt, local bodies or any other person, are obligated under Section 357C to provide first-aid or medical treatment, free of cost, to the victims of any offence covered under Sections 326A (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by use of acid), 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D or Section 376E of the IPC,” the Bench said.