June 14, 2011


Times of India

Court roots for greater awareness on tackling sexual assaults on kids

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court has pitched for greater awareness of the three 'R's--recognise, resist and report--to tackle sexual assaults on children. Justice Roshan Dalvi's observations came while upholding the 10 years rigorous imprisonment awarded to a Raigad resident who had raped a nine-year-old standard III student seven years ago.

"It is when society, as also families, fail to follow these principles that offences of the kind alleged by the prosecution, in this case (rape of a child), take place," said Justice Dalvi. The judge said that while such crimes were universal, in rural areas, sexual abuse of children was left unobserved. "It is, therefore, that the crime persists with regular frequency over the most innocent victims," said the judge.

The judge called the assault on the victim a "gross violation of human rights" and refused to show the accused, Laxman Kokare, leniency. The defence had urged lesser punishment, saying Kokare was the father of two minors. "This would mean that the father of two minor children can sexually molest the minor children of other fathers. It would be scandalous to suggest that such persons who are a menace to innocent minor children can be seen by the court with any amount of leniency," said the judge.

On July 9, 2004, when the victim was on her way to school, Kokare had lured her with a chocolate and sexually assaulted her. A few days earlier, he had made a similar attempt. The victim later went to school, where the teacher noticed bleeding and sent her home.

Later in the day, she told her 17-year-old sister, who lodged a complaint with the police.

A sessions court had sentenced Kokare to 10 years, which he challenged. The high court held that Kokare was guilty of aggravated rape. It, however, noted the casualness with which the school and others treated the incident.

"It appears from evidence, the awareness required to be disseminated was absent in the home of the victim, her neighbourhood, as also her school. The violation on her person was taken in the stride by her siblings, neighbours, as also her teacher," said the judge.

The court reflected on preventive measures required in society and said, "The criminal justice system, which comes at the top of the ladder of society and which comes into play much after the offence is committed, can only deal with the punitive effect of such offence, the preventive and protective measures having failed in society."


Times of India

State to pay victims of crime

MUMBAI: Victims of sexual assault and any other form of violence who suffer severe injuries, or their kin in case of fatalities, will no longer have to appeal in court to get monetary compensation. The Maharashtra government is readying a draft victim rehabilitation policy to ensure that those who suffer severe mental trauma and grievous injuries get financial aid from the state.

"The process to assist 'victims of body injuries' has begun. The department is working on the modalities like the content of the policy, the compensation amount and criteria for entitlement," said Pravin Dixit, principal secretary, home department.

On Friday, Dixit chaired a debut meeting at Mantralaya to discuss the nature of the policy for grievously injured victims. The two-hour meeting was attended by senior IPS official Gulabrao Pol, joint secretary of the home department R D Sankhe and officials of the legal department.

The state government's initiative comes following an amendment to Section 357A of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) approved by the government of India. It obliges every state government to prepare a scheme for providing funds to compensate the victim of a crime or his or her dependents.

"A corpus meant exclusively for compensating 'victims of body injuries' was discussed," said a senior official present at the meeting. Victims of rape cases or crimes where a person loses a limb or any part of the body will be covered in the new compensation policy, the official added.

"The policy prepared by the home department will be tabled for approval by the state government's finance, planning, law and judiciary departments. It will then be forwarded to the Union government for its approval and suggestions if any," Dixit said.

According to the policy, immediately after the incident of crime, a victim will be entitled to compensation as the policy is not linked to the outcome of court cases. "Irrespective of whether the accused is convicted or acquitted, the victim will get monetary help as finalized by the government," Dixit said.

If the state government is to be believed, every year 5,000 to 6,000 cases of severe injuries are registered in the state. "The victim will have to make a claim for the compensation. Those who do not claim will not be entitled to financial assistance," a senior Mantralaya official said. "The victim will have to get a medical certificate from doctors (the panel is yet to be decided) and the claim will be verified by the legal aid cell committee."

Still at a nascent stage, the policy will take a while to be fine-tuned. A similar policy is already in place in Punjab, whereby a compensation of Rs 1 lakh is given for loss of life and Rs 40,000 for over 40% damage to a body organ. In cases of rape, the compensation is Rs 30,000 and Rs 20,000 for an injury that causes mental trauma.

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