Friday, January 27, 2023

State Legal Service Authority has no authority to control & monitor the amount of compensation disbursed to victim: Calcutta HC

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Calcutta High Court has held that the State Legal Services Authority (SLSA) constituted under the Legal Services Authority Act has no authority to control and monitor the amount of compensation disbursed to a victim who has attained majority.

Acting upon a plea, a single judge bench of Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya said, “She or he has every right and the liberty to choose the mode of expending the compensation amount, as she/he feels appropriate for her rehabilitation after the trauma of the offence.”

The petitioner being a victim of human trafficking was served with an order of SLSA directing that 75 percent of the awarded amount was to be deposited by the victim girl with a nationalized bank in a Monthly Income Scheme in the name of the victim for a period of ten years, with auto renewal option, and to submit a compliance of the same within 40 days from the date of receipt of the victim compensation.

Justice Bhattacharyya while setting aside the impugned orders of SLSA made an intriguing observation that we are in 2020 now, and not in ‘1984’ (as contemplated by George Orwell). As such, the ‘Big Brother’ approach of the disbursing authority should be shunned and the victim should be free to spend the compensation granted to her/him at her/his option. He also observed that a method of dictating expenditure and savings is counterproductive to the scheme of Section 357A of the Code of Criminal Procedure and would be an illegal fetter on the personal liberty of the victim.

-India Legal Bureau 

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