Delhi HC rules in favour of compensation for children born out of rape

A child born out of rape is entitled to maintenance and compensation, independent of any such relief granted to the mother, the Delhi High Court has ruled.

''A child born out of rape, either of a minor or a woman who is an adult, is clearly a vict­i­m of the act by the offender and entitled to compensation indepe­­ndent of the amount of compensation paid to his / her mo­­t­h­e­r.''

A division bench comprising justices R K Gauba and Gita Mittal passed the order while hearing an appeal by Gaya Prasad Pal, who was convicted for sexual assault on his 14-year-old step-daughter and making her pregnant and criminally intimidating her.

The trial court had sentenced the man to life imprisonment and a Rs15 lakh penalty.

The high court, which had earlier laid down a procedure for payment of compensation in the absence of a law in this regard, however, reduced the amount of compensation to the rape victim from Rs15 lakh awarded by the trial court to Rs7.5 lakh, saying the higher amount went against the 2011 compensation scheme formulated by the Delhi government.

Delivering the verdict, the court noted that there was no such provision under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act or under the Delhi government's victim compensation scheme.

It also faulted the trial court by giving a go-by to the guidelines for maintaining confidentiality of the rape victim.

However, a bench of Justices Gita Mittal and RK Gauba said a child born out of rape, either of a minor or a woman who is an adult, "is clearly a victim of the act of the offender and entitled to compensation independent of the amount of compensation paid to his/her mother."

Noting the "sordid scenario" in the instant case, where "the trust and confidence reposed in the man by his wife and step-daughter, was abused by him to bring about, out of sheer lust, untold miseries on the body, mind and psyche of the prosecutrix child leaving scars which would not ever heal", the court upheld his conviction and sentence.

It also clarified that the man shall remain behind bars for the remainder of his natural life, saying "we see no scope for any ruth (pity) in the matter of punishment."

While upholding the sentence, the bench also expressed displeasure over the manner in which the trial court "gave a go-by" to the precaution mandated under POCSO to keep the minor victim's identity confidential.

The high court also reiterated its earlier direction to all trial courts not to disclose the identity of minor victims in POCSO cases.

Observing that no victim compensation fund has been set up under the 2011 scheme despite directions in this regard by the high court in a PIL, the high court noted that there was no reason or the trial court to award a compensation of Rs15 lakh to the victim.

The bench said under the existing scheme, the maximum compensation that can be paid was Rs3 lakh and under the proposed new scheme of 2015, it would be enhanced to Rs7.5 lakh.

Setting aside the compensation awarded by the trial court, the bench awarded a total amount of Rs 7.5 lakh to the victim, saying "given the nature of loss, pain and suffering which she undoubtedly would have undergone, we find this to be a fit case where the state must pay compensation for the minimum sum of Rs 7.5 lakh (which would be the compensation awardable under the proposed scheme of 2015, as and when brought in force)."