Money in Nirbhaya Fund does not reach needy hands, Supreme Court told

Nirbhaya Fund was announced by the Centre in 2013 to support initiatives of the government and NGOs working towards protecting the dignity and ensuring the safety of women.

Published: 07th February 2017 09:14 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th February 2017 09:14 PM   |  A+A-

File photo of the Supreme Court. | PTI

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Every year crores of rupees are allocated to Nirbhaya Fund created to support measures for women's safety but the money does not reach the needy hands and is hardly utilised, the Supreme Court was today told.
    
Nirbhaya Fund was announced by the Centre in 2013 to support initiatives of the government and NGOs working towards protecting the dignity and ensuring the safety of women.
    
A bench of Justices M B Lokur and P C Pant was told by amicus curiae Indira Jaising in a PIL that every year the government makes a budgetary allocation to the fund but the money is hardly used for various schemes.
    
"What is the purpose of having a fund when it does not reach the needy hands. It is hardly utilised and the only purpose it appears to have been used is setting up of 'one-stop crisis centre' in different states," Jaising said.
    
The counsel appearing for Centre, however, refuted the claim and gave last year's figures saying that out of the Rs 2,195 crore in the fund, 16 proposals amounting to Rs 2,187 crore have been recommended.
    
Jaising said that the Centre has to create a human resource which was the key to the success of the various schemes started with the fund for women's security and to give relief to sexual assault victims.
    
The bench then asked the Centre to give the exact details of utilisation of money from the fund and told Jaising to focus on victim compensation.
    
The senior advocate, who was appointed amicus curiae in 2015 in a batch of PILs relating to women's safety, said that it was suggested by various petitioners that a national register of sexual offenders should be maintained, but in her point of view, it was not desirable as it will affect the right of privacy.
    
Six petitions were filed in the Supreme Court between 2012 and 2013 after the Nirbhaya gangrape in Delhi on December 16, 2012, raising concerns regarding safety and security of women.
    
All the petitions were tagged by the apex court and several directions have been issued from time to time in this regard.
    
Jaising said that the Victim Compensation Scheme under section 357(A) of CrPC has not been notified by all the states. 
Jaising said that there is no uniformity in victim compensation among the states as some like Goa pay Rs 10 lakh as compensation while other pay only Rs 50,000.
    
"There should be a uniform policy by the states to give relief to the victims of sexual crime," she said, noting that in India, women hardly go for civil compensation for a criminal wrong done to them.
    
She said that some states though have schemes for victim compensation but the payment is not made due to a shortage of funds or budgetary allocation.
    
Highlighting some of the issues with regard to victim compensation, Jaising said that there is a lack of uniformity as the scheme has not been notified by every state, compensation is very low due to lack of allocation and the time limit for payment of such compensation to the victims should be fixed.
    
With regard to criminal justice delivery to the victims of sexual crimes, she said that after December 16, 2012, gangrape case, there was a rise in the lodging of FIRs for sexual offences but there has been hardly any conviction.
    
Citing a book, she said, "All sorts of offensive questions are being put to victims during a trial and in one case the presiding officer of a court asked the victim to enact the scene of the crime committed on her before him.
    
"There is a role bias plays in prosecution. Police in dowry and domestic violence cases say don't bring family issues to the police station and sort out the problems among yourselves. It is not that a woman does not want to pursue a case but it is the criminal justice system which fails her," she said.
    
She said that deterrent punishment needs to be given to sexual offenders and rapists should not be let off by lighter punishment.
    
"It, not that women don't want justice for themselves but the criminal justice system is not friendly to them. That's why they drop out of the trial and don't pursue cases," she added.
    
The hearing remained inconclusive and would continue tomorrow.
    
The apex court had on May 26, last year asked the Centre to formulate a national policy for providing adequate relief to rape survivors as setting up of a separate fund like the Nirbhaya FRund was not enough and amounted to "just a lip service".
    
It had sought response of the Centre and states on the effective implementation of Section 357(A) of CrPC and status of victim compensation schemes, along with the number of victims of rape who have been compensated.



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