Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Modi govt lets funds for rape victims lapse

2.75 Crore Central Grant Went Unused In 2011-12 As Govt Couldn't Form Boards

Ajay Umat | TNN

Ahmedabad: The Narendra Modi government may start fast-track courts soon to deal with cases of violence against women, as per the directions of Supreme Court, but it has a poor track record of helping rape victims.
    The central government's funds of Rs 2.75 crore, meant to be disbursed among rape victims in 2011-12, lapsed despite the state having 419 eligible victims. The plan for the Centre's financial assistance and support services for restorative justice to the rape victims came into effect from August 2011.
    It took six months for the state government to issue a circular for the same in January 2012. It further took time forming districts boards under the chairmanship of district collector and under the umbrella of the State Criminal Injuries and Relief Rehabilitation Board to disburse the funds. Shockingly, the board is yet to nominate two women members from the civil society. As per the provision of this scheme, the Centre was to provide 100% funding for 2011-12 and the states were expected to share 25% of this cost from the next year.
    Under the scheme, compensation up to Rs 1 lakh can be given at the district level. Compensations between Rs 1 and Rs 2 lakh can be decided at the state level. Prof Ilaben Pathak of Ahmedabad Women's Action Group (AWAG) said, “The state government is so much taken up with industry that it does not care for things like forming a committee to help rape victims.”
    Johanna, an activist from Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), said, “In some districts like Sabarkantha and Palanpur we have heard that the grant has been sanctioned but the disbursement has not happened.”
CSJ has filed 35 applications on behalf of rape victims but none of the rape victims have received compensation. Anju Sharma, secretary, women and child development and chairman of the board, said, “We are in the process of appointing the two members in the state board.”
    She said district boards had started scrutiny of applications but the central fund for 2012-13 had not arrived. She claimed that a provision of Rs 1 crore had been made from the state contingency through which fund claims of Rs.21.80 lakh had been settled in five districts.
    When countered that no beneficiary had received money, she said, “It must be in the banking process.” |P2
Times View
    The huge amount of Rs 2.75 crore would have helped rape victims in a small way to rebuild their shattered lives. Allowing such a grant to lapse is nothing but criminal. It is also an indicator of why Gujarat gets poor marks in human development despite the hype around 'Modi model' of development. The government should make amends by announcing a separate grant of its own for rape victims.
HC for action against erring prosecutors
Ahmedabad: The Gujarat high court has called for “strict action” against erring or incompetent investigating officers and prosecutors, whose failure results in injustice for either victims or accused in serious offences like rape. The court has come down heavily on cops and government lawyers' their casual and disinterested approach or complicity and thereby failing the victims in securing justice. TNN | 2