Implementation of Victim Compensation Scheme leaves a lot to be desired

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The implementation of the Victim Compensation scheme in states leaves a lot to be desired.  Fund release under the Central Victim Compensation Fund(CVCF) does not seem to be based on any rationale.

India follows a criminal procedure code, commonly known as the CrPC to deal with criminal cases. It is the common code for all states in India. In 2008, the code was amended to introduce a new section i.e., 357A that makes it mandatory for the state governments to have a scheme/Act for victims. In this context, victim means, the one at the receiving end of crime, family of the person who was murdered, the rape victim etc.

Every state started formulating a scheme for the victims, and allocated budget for the victim compensation fund, from which the victims will be paid money to ‘ compensate ‘ for the misery they have gone through.

Victims can access the fund in two ways. One, the judge dealing the case will recommend compensation amount to the victim. Second, victims can approach the District Legal Services Authority and submit an application to them. There is no specific application format and the application can be made on a white paper.

Different States – Different methods & amounts
While this looks good on paper, things on ground are different. Each state set a different compensation amount based on the category of victim. Moreover, there is no systematic method for categorization of the victim based on the nature of the crime or the age of the victim. Some states took the age of the victim into account while others did not.

Government of India sets up CVCF
After the Nirbhaya incident in 2012, Government of India established Nirbhaya Fund in 2013, with an initial corpus of Rs. 1000 crore. There have been widespread reports of the non-utilization of the fund. Government data also shows that a lot of projects are yet to take off.

In 2015, to ward off the criticism over non utilization of the Nirbhaya Fund, the Government of India (GoI) setup the Central Victim Compensation Fund(CVCF).  The CVCF was also setup to streamline the compensation amount in various states for different categories of crime. GoI issues guidelines for the CVCF in 2015 and allocated Rs 200 crore from the Nirbhaya Fund to this scheme. The CVCF was aimed at harmonizing the state schemes with a minimum fixed amount of compensation for victims of various crimes.

Fund disbursement under CVCF – No apparent rationale
The highest amount of Rs 28.1 crore was released to Uttar Pradesh followed by Rs 21.8 crore to Madhya Pradesh. Odisha, Rajasthan, West Bengal & Maharashtra are the only other states to have received more than Rs 10 crore. There does not seem to be any rationale in the amount of funds disbursed to various states under the CVCF. If one were to go by the population or even female population, Madhya Pradesh is in the 6th place where as the state received the most funds after Uttar Pradesh. Nagaland received an amount of Rs 10 lakh, same as what was released to Lakshadweep. Nagaland’s population is more than 30 times that of Lakshadweep. In fact, Nagaland received less than that of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, though the population is 5 times more.

Even if one were to go by crimes against women, the most crimes against women (per every one lakh population) were reported from Delhi & Assam from 2014 to 2016. Hence it looks as though the release of funds under CVCF had no rationale.

Implementation leaves a lot to be desired
The major problem in implementation of victim compensation schemes is the serious lack of awareness. We could not find any posters, materials or any other publicity material while googling for relevant information on the scheme. The lack of awareness shows in the number of victims making use of the scheme. For instance, in Telangana, only 9 victims availed compensation under this scheme in 2016-17 and 2017-18 (till November 2017). Most of these 9 victims were from only one district.

The victims availing compensation under the scheme is nowhere close to the incidents of rape being reported every year. As per government data, close to 39000 case of rape were reported across the country in 2016. Even if we were to go with the conviction rate of around 25%, we are talking about thousands of victims each year. And if compensation of Rs 3 lakh in each case was extended to these victims, the total compensation for rape victims alone would be more than Rs 100 crore. The allocation under CVCF has to be increased match the number of victims. Victim compensation has to become a right of the victim and her family.

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