Report No. 226
Compensation for the Victim
In the Delhi Domestic Working Women's Forum case1 the Supreme Court of India had pronounced upon the need by the government to setup a Criminal Injuries Compensation Board for rape victims within 6 months. The Supreme Court had suggested that this board should give compensation whether or not a conviction takes place. The Supreme Court explained the justification for this proposal as under-
1. Delhi Domistic Wr4oking Women's Forum v. Union of India, (1995) I SCC 14.
"It is necessary, having regard to the Directive Principles contained under Article 38(I) of the Constitution of India to setup Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. Rape victims frequently incur substancial financial loss. Some, for example are too traumatised to continue in employment.
(Compensation for victims should be awarded by the court on conviction of the offender and by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board whether or not a conviction takes place. The board will take into account pain, suffering and 69 Delhi Domestic Working Women's Forum Vs. Union of India (1995) I SCC 14 38shocks as well as loss of earnings due to pregnancy and the expenses of the child but if this occurred as a result of the rape. In the present situation, the third respondent will have to evolve such scheme as to wipe out the fears of such unfortunate victims."
In Bodhisattwa Gautam's case,1 The Supreme Court again reiterated the above decision and further laid down that courts had arrived to award interim compensation which should also be provided for in the scheme.
1. Bodhisattwa Gautam v. Shudhra Chakraborty, AIR 1996 SCC 922.
An examination of acid attack cases again underlines the urgent need for a scheme of compensation for the victims. Acid attack victims often have to, as stated earlier, undergo multiple surgeries costing Lakhs of Rupees. They are also in urgent need of rehabilitation as they often need financial help to exist. They may not be able to seek employment.
The National commission for Women has suggested a separate legislation to deal with the offence of acid attack and as part of the proposed legislation has suggested that the Central government should establish a National Acid Attack Victims Assistance Board which will provide assistance to the acid attack victims by way of ensuring medical treatment and other services such as psychological counseling. The board has also been given the task to recommend to the Government strategies to regulate and control inter-alia the production and sale of acids.
It has been suggested that the board administers a fund to be called The National Acid Attack Victims Assistance Fund to which the Central and State government can give grants apart from others. It has been provided that the board can give interim financial relief upto Rs. 1 Lakh within a period of 30 days directly to the hospital. Apart from other issues the main problem with the suggestions of the N.C.W is that it is restricting the function of the board to only acid attack cases.
The Law Commission has also examined the Canadian legislation for payment of compensation under the " Compensation for Victims of Crime Act". This act applies to compensation claims arising from an injury or death resulting from certain offences. Thus, the act provides for compensation inter-alia to victims of offences like sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, murder, manslaughter, sexual exploitation, assault, kidnapping etc.
The act sets up a Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, which can pay compensation to the victim or a person who is responsible for maintenance of the victim or where death has occurred, the dependants or any of them of the victim or the person who was responsible for the victim's maintenance. The compensation can be awarded under the following heads -
(a) Expenses actually and reasonably incurred or to be incurred as a result of the victims injury or death;
(b) Pecuniary loss or damages incurred by the victim as a result of total or partial disability affecting the victims capacity for work;
(c) Pecuniary loss or damages incurred by the dependants as a result of the victim's death;
(d) Pain and suffering ;
(e) Maintenance of a child born as a result of sexual assault;
(f) Other pecuniary loss or damages resulting from the victims injury and any expense that in the opinion of the board it is reasonable to incur.
Interim payments to the applicant preceding the award can also be made. The total compensation ordered to be paid cannot exceed $100,000 in lump sum payments for one occurrence. The payment of the compensation has to be paid out of the consolidated fund.
The U.K Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 199571 makes the government responsible for setting up a scheme and states as under-
"(1) The Secretary of State shall make arrangements for the payment of compensation to, or in respect of, persons who have sustained one or more criminal injuries.
(2) Any such arrangements shall include the making of a scheme providing, in particular, for-
(a) the circumstances in which awards may be made; and
(b) the categories of person to whom awards may be made.
(3) The scheme shall be known as the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme."1
1. Section 1 of Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 1995.
It states that a standard amount of compensation will be determined by reference of the nature of the injury and additional amounts with respect to special expenses and fatal injuries can be provided for. The act states that the government should prepare a table showing the amount which should be paid in different cases or for different injuries. A claim officer to award the claim and adjudicators to hear an appeal have also been specified under the Act.
It has been pointed out that Financial Compensation for the victim can be very generous in the UK. The UK Criminal Injuries Compensation Board provided a victim GBP £86,250 (approximately US $140,000). The Assessment of general damages read as under:-
"The women was aged 44 at the date of the assault and 50 when she was injured in an acid attack. 31 She had 8% thickness burns to her face, right arm, dorsum of both hands and the left upper chest plus damage to both eyes. She had to have several skin grafts 10 months, two years eight months and two years 11 months after the assault. She was left with extensive scarring to her whole face, loss of hair above the left forehead, severe scarring to the right arm and left forearm and scarring to both hands. All scarring was permanent.
Her left earlobe was destroyed, she suffered a perforated left eardrum, likely to have been caused by chemical burns and suffered permanent hearing loss, tinnitus and a persistent and foul smelling variable discharge from the left ear. She also experienced pain in the throat, on the left side of the face and ear, particularly when in the cold, soreness in her eyes with extensive watering on a permanent basis. There was some visual impairment. She also suffered from headaches, dizziness and a loss of balance.
Prior to the attack she had worked full time in a supermarket that she ran with her husband and was outgoing and sociable. Following the attack she developed agoraphobic tendencies and suffered from sleep disturbance, anxiety, frequent flashbacks, excessive sensitivity to heat and became socially withdrawn and more distant in her relationships. There was a diagnosis of severe post traumatic stress disorder and a moderately severe depressive reaction. The prognosis for the psychiatric injuries was poor although there had been some small improvement by the hearing. Due to the severity of her injuries, S was unable to work again."