SHAKTI VAHINI RESEARCH INITIATIVE
Compensation to victims of crimes including rape can be awarded by courts under Section 357 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.PC), from the fine recovered as part of the sentence. In 2009, Section 357A was added to the Cr.PC, under which each State Government, in coordination with the Central Government, is required to formulate a scheme for compensation to victims of crime or their dependants. Under this, a victim can get compensation for rehabilitation in cases in which the court finds it necessary. The compensation can be recommended even in cases where the trial ends in acquittal or discharge, provided there is a need for rehabilitation of victims. Compensation can also be granted where no trial takes place because the offender cannot be identified or traced but the victim requires rehabilitation. Thus, while under Section 357 CrPC, a victim is entitled to compensation only on conviction, compensation under Section 357A is not necessarily linked to conviction. From the information available, States are in the process of preparing such a Scheme.
The Central Government has also formulated a Scheme in pursuance of the Supreme Court’s judgment in Delhi Domestic Working Women’s Forum Vs. UOI & Ors. in WP (Criminal) No.362/93 with a view to provide restorative justice to the victims of rape. The proposed ‘Financial Assistance and Support Services to Victims of Rape: A Scheme for Restorative Justice’ envisages setting up of Criminal Injuries Relief and Rehabilitation Boards at the Central, State and district levels for providing financial assistance of Rs 1.5 lakhs as well as support services such as shelter, counseling, medical aid, legal assistance and vocational training. While compensation under Section 357A CrPC is general in nature and covers all crimes, this Scheme is meant specifically for rape victims.