The Delhi High Court today ruled that a child “born out of rape” is entitled to compensate including maintenance and support. The ruling came after a man was sentenced to life imprisonment for raping and impregnating his 14-year-old stepdaughter.
The bench comprising Justice Gita Mittal and Justice RK Gauba said in the judgment that was issued on December 9, “We find there is a complete vacuum in the consideration of compensation so far as the sexual offence resulting in the birth of a child. Such a child is clearly a victim of the act of the offender and entitled to compensation independent of the amount paid to his/her mother. Such award would require to include amount towards his/her maintenance and support.”
The minor girl gave birth to a baby boy in 2014. She alleged that her stepfather had been sexually assaulting her since she was 11 years old. The man also threatened her mother and stepbrother. The accused was convicted after a DNA test which confirmed he was the father of the newborn baby.
The Indian Express reported that the bench said the compensation to the child falls under the provisions of compensation to victims of sexual assault under section 357 of the CrPC and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) act.
Co-director of NGO HaQ Center for Child Rights said, “This is the first time that rights of a child born out of rape have been considered. So far, we had been struggling to get compensation for the rape victims, since courts are reluctant to grant it till the trial is over.”
Public prosecutor Varun Goswami said now there was hope that the legislature will look into the matter and make provisions.
The bench has set aside Rs 12 lakh compensation granted to the baby by the trial court since the baby is up for adoption and there were “concerns of privacy and confidentiality,” which could have “possible repercussions” thereby “impacting the future welfare of the individuals involved.”
The High Court has allowed the couple who adopted the boy “to approach the legal services authority for compensation in its favour should they feel it necessary to claim on its behalf”.
The bench said that under the existing scheme the maximum compensation to the rape victim was Rs 3 lakh and the other proposed new scheme of 2015 it would be increased to Rs 7.5 lakh.
The bench set aside the compensation given by the trial court, it awarded a total amount of Rs 7.5 lakh to the victim. The bench said, “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.”
The court also said that the ruling should be sent to the Delhi State Legal Services (DSLS) and the Principal Secretary Law of the Delhi Government to consider the issue of compensation to the child victims of rape sufferers.
The bench expressed grief at the disclosure of the identity of the victim in the case. The High Court has ruled that all trial courts must ensure the identity of the rape victims shall not be disclosed anywhere on judicial record and their names shall be referred to by pseudonyms during the trials and in the judgment.