Kerala High Court directs state government to prepare a compensation scheme to assist POCSO victims

According to the High Court, the existing scheme is inadequate to provide compensation to the victims. The order was passed by Justice Kauser Edappagath while considering whether the victims of sexual abuse or harassment can claim compensation under the Kerala Victim Compensation Scheme, 2017.

| Updated: 05 August, 2023 1:07 am IST

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a direction that could pave the way for providing major solace and financial support to the victims of child abuse and their families, the Kerala High Court has ordered the state government to formulate a compensation scheme for POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) or to amend the existing scheme, the ‘Kerala Victim Compensation Scheme’.

According to the High Court, the existing scheme is inadequate to provide compensation to the victims. The order was passed by Justice Kauser Edappagath while considering whether the victims of sexual abuse or harassment can claim compensation under the Kerala Victim Compensation Scheme, 2017.

“It is obligatory on the part of the state government to formulate a comprehensive victim compensation scheme specifically for the victims of sexual offenses under the POCSO Act or to make necessary amendments in the existing Kerala Victim Compensation Scheme, 2017 (as amended in 2021) incorporating a separate Schedule applicable to sexual offense victims under the POCSO Act,” said the court.

The order, meanwhile, received mixed views from child rights activists and social activists across Kerala. While some activists viewed that mere compensation for the victims is not a solution to address the complex issue and that there should be an Individual Care Plan (ICP) in each case and a social reintegration should be undertaken by law enforcing agencies.

“A mere financial compensation to the victims of such sexual abuse will not help the child or the family in any manner. Instead, an Individual Care Plan as constituted by the Supreme Court should be provided to the child, considering the social conditions and the nature of the individual case. A mere hefty compensation will only lead to stigmatizing the victim and the family. Instead, there should be a mechanism to understand the case and the victim and then nurture a plan so that the society does not stigmatize the victim. Financial assistance should be provided depending on the prevailing situation,” said CJ Antony, a child rights activist.

However, a few others felt that financial compensation to the victims from weak economic conditions will help them going forward and also make them financially stable.

“The order by the court will help the victims and their families so that they will be able to find a job or can use the money for academic purposes. However, there should be a mechanism for each case and find a solution,” said advocate Saji, a criminal advocate based in Malappuram.

There are 1867 POCSO cases registered in the state in 2023 (Up to May). The highest number of cases is reported from Malappuram (206), Thiruvananthapuram rural (153), and Ernakulam rural (136).

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