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Birbhum gang-rape: SC asks West Bengal govt to pay Rs 5 lakh to victim

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The faultlines of BirbhumNew Delhi :  The Supreme Court today lashed out at the West Bengal government for its failure to protect “the fundamental rights” of a 20-year-old tribal woman who was gangraped by 13 men in Birbhum district in January, and directed it enhance the amount of compensation paid to her by an additional Rs. 5 lakh.

“No compensation can be adequate. As the state has failed to protect the victim’s rights, it is duty-bound to provide compensation,” observed a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam. The state government had earlier sanctioned an amount of Rs. 50,000 as compensation to the survivor.

The woman was raped by a group of men in Birbhum, located 180 kms from Kolkata, on the orders of village elders as punishment for having a relationship with a man from a different community, police officers said.

The Supreme Court had on January 24 taken suo-motu notice of the media outrage over the incident, and directed the district judge to file a report on it after visiting the site of the gangrape.

Shalishi“The West Bengal government failed to protect the fundamental rights of the victim,” the top court said, adding,  “Violence against women is a recurring crime across the globe. In India, it’s not an exception. It is shocking that even with rapid modernization, it persists in our country.”
The judges asked the court and police officials “to be vigilant for effective implementation of laws to prevent recurrence of such incidents.”

The Supreme Court took the state government to task for failing to provide details of the security cover provided to the survivor. “No details have been provided by the Chief Secretary for providing security. We direct the state government to send the circle officer of that area to inspect the victim’s family on a day-to- day basis,” it said.

It directed all public and privates hospital to provide free medical aid to rape survivors in keeping with legal provisions.

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