New Delhi: The Supreme Court today said “nothing would materialise” if the money from the Nirbhaya fund is not properly spent on women’s welfare. “We have been spending time for the benefit of women and children. Unless the fund is spent, we can go on talking about it, but nothing will materialise,” a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta observed and added, “there are so many things which we have to do for the welfare of women and children”.
The apex court sought details of the funds allocated to the states by the Centre under the scheme, announced by the Centre in 2013 after the December 16, 2012 gang-rape and murder case in Delhi to support initiatives on women’s safety across the country. It said there was no lack of funds under the scheme but the issue was of its proper utilisation. Huge amount of funds were available but its “ineffective channelisation” should be taken care of, it stressed.
Senior lawyer Indira Jaising, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, raised the issue of low conviction rate in India in cases of sexual assaults and said one of the reasons for this was that the authorities were unable to support the victims throughout the trial of these cases. She said some interim compensation should be paid to the victims of sexual assault without waiting for the outcome of the case, as the purpose of the victim compensation scheme was to rehabilitate her and support her during the trial also.
Regarding the victim compensation scheme, Jaising said the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has proposed a comprehensive scheme on victim compensation for across the country. She also stressed the need for proper security arrangements in public transport system while referring to the December 16, 2012 incident that had happened in a moving bus here.
The bench referred to a ‘one stop centre’ in Hyderabad where every service, including counselling facility and medical facility, were available for victims of sexual assaults. It said it would take up the issue of victim compensation scheme on May 8 while the matter pertaining to utilisation of the Nirbhaya fund would be heard in July.
Earlier, the Centre had told the apex court that it was finding it difficult to get the cooperation of states on the issue relating to disbursal of compensation to the victims of sexual assault under the Nirbhaya scheme. Several petitions were filed in the Supreme Court after the December 16, 2012 incident in Delhi raising concerns over the safety and security of women. All the petitions were tagged by the apex court and several directions have been issued from time to time in this regard.