New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has directed the state legal services authority to seek compensation on behalf of the victims of sexual offence cases registered between 2012 and 2017 while clarifying that there can be no limitation with respect to time for filing such pleas in cases that have been disposed of.
Justice Jasmeet Singh said the Delhi Victims' Compensation Scheme cannot be used in a hyper-technical manner to defeat the rights of the victims and asked the Delhi police and other authorities to provide all necessary assistance to Delhi State Legal Service Authority (DLSLSA) to enable it to meaningfully and effectively perform the task of moving applications for compensation.
The court passed the order on December 12 while dealing with disbursement of compensation to the victims of sexual offences in the city.
Harshita Mishra, Secretary (litigation) of DSLSA and lawyer Prabhsahay Kaur, representing the 'Bachpan Bahcao Andolan', expressed the apprehension that many courts and District Victim Compensation Committees (DVCC) may not entertain applications for compensation in cases where trial concluded more than 3 years back.
"I am of the view that since no limitation for filing an application for compensation is provided under Section 357(A) of the CrPC or Section 33 of the POCSO Act, such a provision under the Part-II of the Delhi Victims' Compensation Scheme (DVCS)-2018 cannot be used/ invoked in a hyper- technical manner to defeat the rights of the victim for whose assistance and support the entire Scheme has been formulated," the court said.
"The limitation shall not come in the way of moving applications for compensation in disposed of cases. The concerned DVCC/ Special Court shall read Clause 16 of Part-II of DVCS- 2018 liberally and entertain applications for compensation and thereafter, decide the same on merits," the court stated.
The court clarified in order to obviate the possibility of the victim's right to compensation being fettered or curtailed on the technical plea of limitation, there will be no requirement to file a separate application for condonation of delay in seeking compensation and asked DSLSA to file a fresh report on the issue.
"DSLSA in the meanwhile is directed to start moving applications on behalf of the victims in disposed of cases at the earliest and file a fresh report.. Delhi Police and Directorate of Prosecution to provide all necessary assistance to DSLSA so that the latter can meaningfully and effectively perform the task of moving applications for compensation on behalf of the victims of sexual offences, in the cases registered between 2012- 2017," ordered the court.
In its order, the court also said the exercise of moving applications for compensation in pending cases shall continue as before and the related reports be also filed.
The court directed the Principal District and Sessions Judges in the national capital to order tracing of the files related to rape and other sexual offence cases besides those registered under the POCSO Act expeditiously and permit their inspection by the lawyers provided by the Bachpan Bachao Andolan to facilitate filing of applications for compensation at the earliest.
Needless to say that these lawyers shall be sensitised with regard to maintaining the confidentiality and respect for privacy of the victim while inspecting records, it added.
The matter will be heard next on February 10.
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