New Delhi: Terming as “unacceptable” delay in payment of compensation to victims of crime, including rape, the Delhi High Court today directed the city government to disburse within two weeks the funds recommended by the state legal services authority.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice B D Ahmed and Justice S Mridul was also not pleased with the “inadequate” number of Central Forensic Science Laboratories (CFSL) in Delhi and directed the city government to set up such facilities in rented buildings as a “stop gap measure” till land is allocated.
“We have been informed of the delay in disbursement of compensation accorded/recommended by Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DLSA). We have been informed that on an average 6-8 months is taken. This is unacceptable, as victims are in need of being compensated,” the bench said.
“We direct that there should be no delay in disbursal of compensation recommended by DLSA. Government of NCT Delhi can take utmost two weeks for disbursal of the compensation,” it said and shot down Delhi government’s plea for more time saying “you only have to write the cheques”.
On the issue of setting CFSL facilities in Delhi, the court observed that there is only one such lab in the national capital at Rohini and said “this is clearly inadequate and hampers the criminal investigation process and the justice dispensation system”.
“The whole process of setting up labs has been delayed over non-allotment of land. There is no impediment in setting up labs in buildings hired by government, as a stop gap measure.
“Consequently, we direct Government of NCT Delhi to search for buildings where CFSL can be established in four other areas of Delhi so that work in criminal investigations is not hampered and there is no impediment in justice dispensation system,” the bench said.
The court sought a status report within three weeks from the government on the availability of buildings for setting up CFSL facilities and listed the matter for further hearing on April 16.
The court issued the directions on a case initiated by it after the December 16 gangrape incident and in which it had sought information from the Centre and the state governments on the issues of compensating victims of crime, including rape, setting up more CFSL facilities in the city, induction of more women cops, etc.
Today, the court was informed by the DLSA that there is delay in awarding compensation to victims of crime, despite the authority recommending the amount after going through each case.
DLSA said that 220 cases, 195 of which were rape case, were recommended for compensation by it, but the state government was taking considerable time in disbursing.
Delhi government in its defence claimed that disbursement is a tedious process and that it has disbursed over Rs 2 crore as compensation.
The bench, however, was not impressed and commented, “After how much delay? Compensation cannot be delayed.”
The court was also not impressed with Delhi government’s stand that it is economically not viable to hire buildings to set up forensic labs as such facilities need to be state of the art and would incur a lot of expenditure and will have to be shut down once permanent labs are built on land allocated for the purpose.
The court rejected the contention of the government and directed it to immediately set up labs in rented buildings as a temporary measure and warned that not doing so would amount to “coming in the way of criminal investigation and justice dispensation” which in turn would amount to “contempt”.
On December 16, 2012, a 23-year-old paramedical student was gangraped by six persons on a moving bus. The victim died in a Singapore hospital on December 29, 2012. Of the six, four were awarded death penalties by a special fast track court on September 13 last year for offences including murder and gangrape of the victim.
Proceedings against main accused Ram Singh were abated after he was found dead in his prison cell in March and the juvenile accused in the case was sentenced to three years in reformation home by the juvenile justice board.
The high court had earlier decided to monitor issues related to women’s safety in the national capital.
It had suggested that police come out with a GPS system to track the location of suspected vehicles and asked it to take help from Infosys or TCS for developing the software.
Further, the court had asked the state government and health department to issue a directive for all hospitals, including the private ones, to attend to trauma patients in the city.
It had said that no hospital can turn down a patient who needed immediate medical attention – especially in rape or accident cases.