The Delhi High Court has ruled that special courts dealing with cases of sexual assault on children must not wait for a victim’s application before giving interim compensation and rather take action as soon as possible.
When the case came up for hearing, the high court also directed the special courts to notify the victims of their entitlement to file an application under the Delhi Victim Compensation Scheme.
Justice Jasmeet Singh was hearing dozens of new petitions in which a previous court sought to streamline the process of submitting FIRs pertaining to sexual offences to DSLSA for the purpose of giving interim compensation to victims.
The order was issued while the court was hearing bail applications for three people in connection with a sexual attack on a minor.
The high court read Rule 9 (1) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Rules, which states, “In appropriate cases, the Special Court may, on its own or on an application filed by or on behalf of the child, pass an order for interim compensation to meet the child’s needs for relief or rehabilitation at any stage after registration of the First Information Report. Such interim compensation granted to the child shall be deducted from any final compensation.”
“I may note that a bare perusal of the Rule shows that the special court on its own or on an application can pass an order for interim compensation. According to me, the special court need not wait for an application to be filed by a child victim before passing an order for interim compensation and must on its own initiate action for grant of interim compensation at the earliest,” added Justice Jasmeet Singh.
Advocate Ajay Verma, representing the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA), sought the court to order special courts to notify victims of their right to file an application under the compensation plan in pending cases.
In response to the prior ruling, DSLSA produced a status report, which the court observed did not include the numbers or amounts of compensation disbursements made to victims to date.
“It is directed that the special courts shall inform the victims about their right to move an application under the scheme when the case comes up for hearing before them.”
The high court stated that there are 5,503 pending cases in trial courts pertaining to the POCSO Act, which were recorded between 2012 and 2017, while 81,902 have been disposed of. According to the status report, 885 applications have been moved out of 5,503 pending cases as of June 30, 2022.
“There is no information on whether any compensation was given in those 81,902 cases. Verma has drawn my attention to the SOP which is proposed to be followed in the 81,902 disposed of cases.”
According to the report, the South East DLSA has only handled six petitions, whereas the Southeast District has 302 pending cases. It directed the secretary of the South East DLSA to look into it and provide an affidavit explaining why only six compensation claims had been lodged.
The high court has scheduled a hearing for September 2.
Case Title: Umesh vs State