The Bombay High Court asked the Maharashtra government why it felt the need to modify the Manodhairya scheme for compensating the victims of sexual assault and acid attack.
A bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and N M Jamdar said it failed to understand the purpose behind the new rule under which 75 per cent of the compensation is to be paid in the form of fixed deposits of 10-year tenure.
“What is the purpose of making such modifications to the scheme? Why must the government give a fixed compensation amount instead of deciding on the amount on case to case basis?” the bench asked, noting a fixed deposit earns just seven per cent interest. “How helpful is that?” the court asked.
The bench was hearing a bunch of public interest litigations challenging modifications to the scheme and seeking enhancement of compensation, among other things.
According to the changes introduced by the government to the scheme in August this year, the compensation was increased from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 10 lakh. However, the eligibility criteria was made more stringent, said one of the PILs.
The payment of 75 per cent of the compensation through FDs renders the scheme useless for the victims in the time of urgent need, it said.
“The new criteria create impediments for victims instead of helping them. The rules mandate that only those who suffer serious injuries or face permanent damage can claim certain benefits. However, who is going to assess the levels of damage, especially for the victims in smaller towns?” the petitioners asked.
The hearing will resume next Thursday.