The Delhi High Court has increased the sum of compensation to Rs one lakh in a case of child abuse.
The single-judge bench of Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani passed the directions in a Writ Petition filed by the petitioner, a six-year-old boy through his mother, challenging the order passed by the Additional Sessions Judge (POCSO), Saket Court, regarding the
sexual assault, abuse, and sodomy by his uncle, seeking interim compensation in accordance with the DVC Scheme, 2018.
Justice Bhambhani said, “Since the system cannot turn the clock back nor ‘undo’ the offence, there is little else the court can do, other than prosecute the offender and provide to the victim whatever psychological security and sense of empowerment that monetary compensation can give.”
The FIR was registered under relevant Sections of IPC and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) at Police Station Mehrauli, New Delhi. The Sessions Court had awarded the victim, interim compensation of Rs 50,000.
The petitioner said the victim belonged to an extremely weak financial background, with mother working as housemaid and washing utensils in people’s homes and a bed-ridden father, who was unable to work due to his medical condition.
The petitioner was subjected to repeated aggravated, unnatural, penetrative and oral sexual assault of different types and was also threatened with a knife on his neck, apart from being physically assaulted. It was also recorded that the petitioner was traumatised, he hardly interacted with anyone and had constant feeling of helplessness. The Child Welfare Committee (CWC) opined that the petitioner needed psychological counselling and referred him to the Director, IHBAS.
It was further stated in the application for compensation that the petitioner was also physically disabled in that he was missing the proximal and distal phalanx of fourth and fifth fingers on his left hand. Presently, he was afraid to attend school and his
parents were scared of sending him due to which, his education was suffering.
The petitioner contended that the order passed by ASJ was flawed in awarding interim compensation of Rs 50,000, further contending that the ASJ failed to appreciate that even at the interim stage, compensation is to be granted to a minor, who is victim of sexual abuse to help him and his family to overcome the incident
and to compensate for the damaging effect on the victim’s psyche and to help rehabilitate the victim into society for ‘relief’ and ‘rehabilitation’ and not merely to cover for the expenses to be incurred for the time being.
The petitioner was seeking Delhi Victim Compensation Scheme 2018 as a benchmark, interim compensation awarded should have been somewhere between Rs. 6 lacs and Rs.10.50 lacs.
“Attention of the court is further drawn to the petitioner’s statement recorded under Section 164 Cr.P.C., in which, after observing that she was satisfied that the minor was making his statement voluntarily without any pressure or influence of any kind, the learned Metropolitan Magistrate records the responses of child which prima facie, and subject of course to being tested during trial, confirm the very serious nature of allegations that the minor has made against his uncle, who he colloquially calls ‘jamai’ while identifying him by name.”
The State (Government of NCT of Delhi) agreed with the court for not binding the DVC scheme 2018. The counsel further argued that in the present case, no basis was provided in the application under section 33(8) of the POCSO Act for calculating the compensation to be paid, which is why the learned ASJ has awarded the minimum threshold amount of Rs.50,000/- provided under the DVC Scheme 2018.
He further argued that even if a higher amount had been awarded to the petitioner, it would not have been available to him for the purposes cited in the application.
The Delhi High court held, “It is further directed that the petitioner’s mother shall use and apply the aforesaid sum of Rs. 100,000 as also the interest received from the fixed deposit created in the petitioner’s name, only for the benefit and welfare of the petitioner, towards his medical, educational, rehabilitation and other needs and requirement from time-to-time, and not for any other purpose. If the mother wishes to use the money for any other purpose, she may seek prior leave of this court. In the unfortunate event of the petitioner’s mother passing-away before the petitioner attains majority, the surviving guardian shall be at liberty to approach the court for the directions to secure the interests and welfare of the minor.”