NEW DELHI - Is rape worth Rs 6,500? That's how a shocked Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Madhya Pradesh government while questioning the state whether it was doing a "charity" by giving this meagre amount to the victims of sexual assaults.
The apex court said it was shocking that Madhya Pradesh, which was among the states which had received maximum funds from the Centre under the Nirbhaya fund scheme, was disbursing Rs 6,000-6,500 only to each rape victim.
The Nirbhaya Fund scheme was announced by the Centre in 2013 after the sensational December 16, 2012, gang-rape and murder case in Delhi to support the initiatives of governments and the NGOs working for women's safety.
A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, while perusing the affidavit filed by Madhya Pradesh, said, "According to you (Madhya Pradesh) and your affidavit, on an average, you are paying Rs 6,000 to a rape victim. Are you doing a charity? How can you do so... You value a rape at Rs 6,500?"
"For Madhya Pradesh, the figures are fantastic. There are 1,951 rape victims in Madhya Pradesh and you are giving them Rs 6,000-Rs 6,500 each. Is that good, commendable? What is this," the bench asked, adding, "this is total insensitiveness".
The bench termed it "shocking" that despite getting the maximum amount under the Nirbhaya Fund, the state had only spent around Rs one crore on 1,951 rape victims.
The Haryana government also faced the wrath of the top court today for not filing its affidavit giving details about Nirbhaya Fund.
The court had last month directed all states and union territories (UTs) to file an affidavit indicating the amount received by them under the Nirbhaya Fund towards victim compensation, amount disbursed by them under the scheme and the number of victims of sexual assault. As many as 24 states and UTs are yet to file their affidavits.
During the hearing, when Haryana's counsel said they would file their affidavit, the bench observed, "If you have not filed affidavit, it is a very clear indication of what you feel for safety of women in your state".
"You take your time and tell the women in your state that you do not care for them," the bench said while observing that 24 states and UTs have not yet filed their affidavit as per the court's direction.
When the counsel representing one of the petitioners told the bench that they have so far received only one affidavit filed on behalf of Sikkim, the bench asked, "is this becoming a joke? If you are not interested in this case, tell us. On what basis you are saying that only one state has filed affidavit. You do not even see the office report?".
The counsel for Meghalaya told the bench that they have disbursed around Rs 30.55 lakh to 48 victims of sexual assault.
In its order, the bench noted that despite all talks, discussions and intent expressed on gender justice, 24 states and UTs have not yet filed their affidavits.
It asked these states and UTs to file their affidavits within four weeks, "if at all they were interested" in the welfare of women.
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.
Six petitions were filed in the Supreme Court after the gangrape case in Delhi on December 16, 2012, 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.