SC Fines Centre for Failing to File Affidavit on Steps to Prevent, Compensate Sexual Assaults

The amount is to be deposited with the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee within two weeks.

Supreme Court of India. Credit: Reuters/Adnan Abidi

New Delhi: On August 1, the Supreme Court bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur, Prafulla C. Pant and Deepak Gupta imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 on the Centre for its failure to file an affidavit in a case in which its role in monitoring the steps to prevent and compensate victims of sexual assaults is being reviewed. The amount is to be deposited with the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee within two weeks for use in an appropriate situation.

The Centre was expected to file its affidavit in the case on or before July 4. Keeping in mind the fact that the affidavit has not been filed even after nearly a month, the bench granted a last opportunity to the Centre to file an appropriate affidavit within four weeks, subject to it depositing the cost imposed.

The case, Nipun Saxena vs Union of India, is being heard in the Supreme Court since 2013. Nipun Saxena – a fourth year student of National Law University, Delhi, who is now a practicing advocate – had in 2012 filed a public interest litigation in the aftermath of the Nirbhaya episode. Saxena sought effective steps to enhance security for women in public places, the setting up of a Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and a ban on the two-finger test to check the virginity of the rape victims as it violates their dignity.

The scope of Saxena’s petition has now been widened with the bench taking up several related issues since then. With Indira Jaising as the amicus curiae in this case, the court is also hearing five related petitions seeking directions to the Centre and the states to take effective steps to contain sexual offences.

On April 17, the bench directed the Centre to collect information from all the state governments and union territories with regard to the amount that has actually been disbursed to the victims of sexual assaults, setting up of one-stop crisis centres, witness protection programmes, and regulation of taxi services like Uber and Ola, and an affidavit compiling it all to be filed by July 4.

On August 1, the bench directed the Centre to monitor the victim compensation schemes that have been announced by various states and union territories, and give a report on it, while filing the affidavit.

With the case being listed for hearing again on September 19, its outcome depends on whether the Centre and the states comply with the court’s directions in the interest of safety of women, to which most of them pay lip service while leaving a huge gap between their claims and the results on the ground.