Question: Mr. Kant can you please tell us something about the victim compensation scheme and do you think it is really helpful for the victims?
Mr. Ravi Kant: Yes, victim compensation scheme got into the picture when the Cr.P.C was amended in 2009 and the relevant section is 357 (A) Cr.P.C. This was due to various supreme court Judgements in various cases where supreme court clarified that when victim suffer injuries, criminal injuries, they need to be compensated because it’s violation of Fundamental rights. So with this 2009 amendment which came into the picture, the Government of India started this victim compensation scheme. Many States drafted it and it all got into action since 2011 onwards.
Question: What is the process for claiming a compensation? Is conviction is mandatory for claiming the compensation?
Mr. Ravi Kant: No, there is no such provision in Cr.PC but presently the courts are doing so. When the conviction are happening or when the judge thinks that it is pertinent to give compensation then only they are giving the compensation. But, there is no such provision that there is a need of conviction. An application for compensation can be made as soon as the case starts into trial process, the IO of the case can move an application or the victim herself can move an application and that application will be considered by the judge seeing the various evidences as well as the various documents prepared by the police.
Question: Many of the time it is observed that the sanction of victim compensation from District Legal Service Authority gets delayed. What is the reason behind this?
Mr. Ravi Kant: It is not getting delayed, because it’s a new process which is there and they are trying to form this new process. Many of the States are grappling with this whole situation. Of course there will be certain, many of these cases where things are getting delayed will go to the high courts, and Supreme Court and things will get clarified out. But presently what’s happening is that there is a little bit of delay.
Question: Most of the time, Victims are being summoned to appear before the Legal Service Authority for its various proceedings. Is it another challenge for the victims?
Mr. Ravi Kant: Certainly, This is another big challenge for the victim. The victims of trafficking are already very stigmatized and they are very afraid of the traffickers when they have to come to the court and depose before the court. After the case trial ends, and again the victim calling, again being the victims being called to the Legal Services Authority adds to their problems. Certainly we really need to, and that is what Shakti Vahini have been trying to do is to petition to various legal services authority and also to bring this problem to the Government of India, that this process need to be clarified. It needs to be made much simpler so that victims who are suffered intense amount of exploitation and violation of all their fundamental rights can be compensated and they can be given a bright future.
Question: Most of the times we have seen, the victims belong to other states, so whenever they come to capital for claiming their victim compensation, who bear their cost and all?
Mr. Ravi Kant: Again as I said that these are big challenges and gap in the law as well as gap in policy and the framework which has been made. These things will have to be clarified and organisations like Shakti Vahini are trying to do their bit in bringing these problems before the court. Of course the Supreme Court in Prafful Desai’s judgement has already given a go ahead for video conferencing. I think that the support of district magistrate of those court, of those district are needed, they can at least testify and attest the bank records and that bank records can be sent by the district magistrate to the Legal Services Authorities for getting it passed for the victim.
Question: Does every State have their own victim compensation scheme? And what is the ground reality?
Mr. Ravi Kant: Yes most of the States have drafted their victim compensation scheme. But there are various anomalies also, because some states have given a good amount of money as compensation some States, which are poorer states have given a low amount of money, again that as anomaly because any victim who is a citizen of India and suffering from criminal injuries need to be compensated on equal level. And therefore again this has to brought to the notice of the courts so that some equality and parity is made between all state.
Question: Can you please cite any of best practices of any of the State?
Mr. Ravi Kant: Presently there are no such best practices the States have, the most important thing was political commitment to get those schemes into action and formulate it and get it into working, so that’s now on the ground now. The compensations are being getting dispersed and things will get clarified out. But I think is the very good initiative by the Government of India that victims are being compensated. As you know that rehabilitation in India is a very grey area, but with this compensation coming into the picture and getting this amount of money is going to give them a bright future and also give strength to various other victims to come and testify before the courts and also to testify against the traffickers.
Question: So, can you please tell us how your organisation is working for getting the victims compensation from government?
Mr. Ravi kant: Each and every case that we picking it up and pursue at Shakti Vahini, any case which starts up at rescue operation just doesn’t ends there. We pursue those cases in the courts and we also pursue those cases at the Child Welfare Committee, we pursue them with various state governments, try to see that if there are problems there, we try to get that sorted out and we see the end of the case. And when I say that we see the end of the case, I am talking about convictions or acquittal. We have been getting a lot of convictions now, with all the improved processes of the Government of India, and I think that our efforts are bearing fruits and we are seeing that lots of victims are getting Justice.