HC directs hospital to pay compensation of Rs5.5 lakh to rape victim

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New Delhi, Feb 4 (UNI) The Delhi High Court has directed the Safdarjung Hospital to pay a compensation of Rs 5.5 lakh to a rape victim for lapses in security system and for not taking timely action to arrest the rapist who committed the crime in its premises.

Justice Ravindra Bhat while giving the direction said ''The State and its agencies are under a duty to protect the rights of all persons to a meaningful life and dignity is an inalienable part of that right, guaranteed under article 21 of the Constitution.'' ''The hospital, established and administered by the Government and maintained out of public funds, was and is always under a duty to ensure that those who visit it as patients or employees should be adequately protected.

Justice Bhat directed the Hospital authorities, who failed to discharge their duties diligently, to pay the compensation of Rs 5.5 lakh to the victim within six weeks and also pay Rs 30 thousand as cost incurred for her litigation.

The court also directed the Delhi government to prepare and impliment a scheme which is in consonnance with the Supreme Court directions laid down in 2005 which had directed to draft the scheme for rehabilitation of rape victims.

The court directed the Delhi Domestic Working Women Forum and the National Human Rights Commission to prepare the blue print of the guidelines indicating compliance of the scheme of compensation for the rape victims as well as violent crimes victims within two months.

The victim had told the court that the incident of rape took place in the hospital and the police failed to conduct proper investigation.

The hospital staff during examination kept telling her that there was no external injury on her body, thus implying that she had consented to sexual assault. She also alleged that Police investigation was a farce and no sincere efforts were made to nab the culprit.

The victim had approached various authorities including National Human Rights Comission and the Chief Minister of Delhi.

Dispite her protests a wrong person was arrested and her signatures were taken forcibly. She was never provided any legal assistance and she was suffering from depression and mental stress.

Mr Mukesh Anand, counsel for the victim said the victim's fundamental right to lead a dignified life was violated by the respondents' act who failed to dischrge their duties.

Citing a previous judgement, the court said ''The concept of compensation under public law must be understood as being different from the concept of damages under private law. Compensation under private law must not be merely seen as the moneyed equivalent injury caused,but understood in the context of failure of state to protect the valuable rights of the citizens.'' ''It is long established that the Right to life enshrined in Article 21 is not a right to mere vegetative(animal)existence, but to a life with dignity and decent standard of living.'' The judge said ''rape is criminalised not just because it violates the bodily integrity of a women, but also because it effront to her dignity as well. The physical scars may be over a time heal, but the scars on the pschye and trauma caused by the assault may well alter the personality of women.'' The court said the criminal jurisprudence was not restricted to traditional domains but has shifted to 'victim centric' compensatory models of justice. Many countries like England, Wales, Scotland and Canada have adopted these models.

The Judge said that in India despite directions of the apex court to the National Commission for Women (NCW) to set up a scheme for rehabilitation of the rape victims nothing constructive was visible so far and an increase of 22 per cent of all crime was witnessed.

The court has ordered that the Delhi Domestic Working Women's forum in consultation with the National Human Rights Commission should prepare the scheme for compensation of victims of rape and violent crimes and to file an affidavit disclosing compliance and the steps to effectuate the measures recommended by the NHRC within six weeks.

The court has also allowed the victim to file any other petition seeking compensation from the perpetrator of crime in accordance with law.

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