Supreme Court grants Rs 10 lakh compensation to HIV+ rape victim who became pregnant

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Supreme Court grants Rs 10 lakh compensation to HIV+ rape victim who became pregnant
Supreme Court grants Rs 10 lakh compensation to HIV+ rape victim who became pregnant

New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Thursday granted Rs 10 lakh compensation to a rape victim who became pregnant but could not undergo an abortion even though she had approached the Patna Medical College in the 17th week of her pregnancy.

Granting compensation for negligence of the state government and the suffering that the victim would undergo, a bench of Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Amitava Roy and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar in their judgment said: "Keeping in view the mental injury that the victim has to suffer, ... the appellant (victim) should get a sum of Rs 10,00,000 ... as compensation from the State (of Bihar)".

The money would be kept in "a fixed deposit in her name so that she may enjoy the interest", it added,

"We have so directed as we want that money to be properly kept and appropriately utilised. It may also be required for child's future," it said, adding that the child to be born, "shall be given proper treatment and nutrition by the state and if any medical aid is necessary, it shall also be provided".

The top court had earlier on May 9 directed the Bihar government to pay her compensation of Rs 3 lakh under the victim compensation scheme as she was a rape victim.

Making a distinction between the compensation paid earlier and the one granted on Thursday, Justice Misra, speaking for the bench said: "It may be clearly stated that grant of compensation for the negligence and the suffering for which the authorities of the state are responsible is different as it comes within the public law remedy and it has a different compartment."

Faulting both the Patna Medical College for not acting with promptitude when the victim approached it for termination of pregnancy and also the Patna High Court, the top court said that it was evident that the victim "has suffered grave injury to her mental health" and the continuance of the injury "creates a dent in the mind of the victim and she is compelled to suffer the same".

"One may have courage or cultivate courage to face a situation, but the shock of rape is bound to chain and enslave her with the trauma she has faced and cataclysm that she has to go through," it added.

The court described as "sad" that despite the "prompt attempt made" by it to get her examined so that "she need not undergo the anguish of bearing a child because she is a victim of rape, it could not be so done as the medical report clearly stated that there was risk to the life of the victim.

Saying that situation can't be reversed as it was "unredeemable", the court said, "... , she has to be compensated so that she lives her life with dignity and the authorities of the State who were negligent would understand that truancy has no space in a situation of the present kind. What needed is promptitude."

The top court verdict has come on an appeal by the victim who had moved the Supreme Court after the Patna High Court rejected her plea for an abortion in the 17th week of her pregnancy on the grounds that the termination would involve a major surgical procedure.

The destitute victim was raped in Patna when she ventured out of the shelter home Shanti Kutir. She is currently in the care of NGO Koshish. The victim came to know about her pregnancy during her medical examination early this year and it was then she decided to terminate it.