Calcutta High Court

Calcutta High Court: Moushumi Bhattacharya, J. heard a petition and issued directions relating to a matter of non- payment of victim compensation pursuant to an order made by the Secretary, District Legal Services Authority fixing the compensation amount as Rs.1,50,000/-.

Counsel for the petitioner submitted that the petitioner had filed an appeal from the said order in 2021 for enhancing the compensation amount to Rs. 18 lacs and the said appeal was pending from date and is due to be considered by the appellate body on 24-06-2022.

Counsel appearing for the State Legal Service Authority (‘SLSA’) submitted that they did not have any fund at its disposal and was therefore unable to pay the amount of Rs.1,50,000/- to the petitioner till date.

The Court stressed on the fact that Section 357-A of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 is a special provision for Victim Compensation Scheme according to which it is the duty of the State Government in co-ordination with the Central Government to prepare a Scheme for providing funds for the purpose of compensation to the victim or his/her dependent who has suffered loss or injury as a result of the crime and who requires rehabilitation.

The Court noted that in other matters of similar nature, the SLSA has not been provided with the funds for disbursement towards victim compensation. Reminding of a similar matter in 2021 where the SLSA had submitted that it had funds only of an amount of Rs.5,000/- and was hence not in a position to disburse the victim compensation, the Court remarked that it is a sorry state of affairs. The Court stated that it is mandatory on the State Government not only to make a separate budget for victim compensation but also to constitute a fund with the specific nomenclature of “Victim Compensation Fund” for disbursing amount to the victims who need rehabilitation.

The State or the SLSA cannot take the position that it does not have funds to compensate the victims.

The SLSA and the State were directed to file a report within six weeks from date as to the steps which are proposed to be taken for ensuring that adequate amount of funds reach the State Legal Services Authority within six weeks from date indicating the funds which are proposed to be put in with SLSA within the time directed for dealing with the pending cases of victim compensation.

The prayer for immediate disbursement of Rs.1,50,000/- was declined in view of the practical compulsions namely that SLSA was not in a position to inform the court as to the quantum of funds at its disposal.

[Maleka Khatun v. State of West Bengal, 2022 SCC OnLine Cal 1755, decided on 20-06-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr Kaushik gupta, Mr Anirban Tarafder and Ms Munmun Gangopadhyay, Advocates, for the Petitioner;

Mr Arindam Sen and Mr Sagnik Bhattacharya, Advocates, for the respondent 3.

*Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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