A child born out of rape is entitled to compensation, irrespective of whether the mother is granted any such relief, the Delhi High Court has ruled.
The verdict to this effect, in which a man has been sent to jail for his entire "natural life" for raping his minor step-daughter, was delivered after the court noted that there was no such provision under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act or under the Delhi government's victim compensation scheme.
Ironically, the high court, which had earlier laid down a law in this regard, reduced the amount of compensation to the rape victim from Rs 15 lakh awarded by the trial court to Rs 7.5 lakh, saying the higher amount went against the 2011 compensation scheme formulated by the Delhi government.
It also faulted the trial court by giving a go-by to the guidelines for maintaining confidentiality of the rape victim.
However, a bench of Justices Gita Mittal and R K Gauba said a child born out of rape, either of a minor or a woman who is an adult, "is clearly a victim of the act of the offender and entitled to compensation independent of the amount of compensation paid to his/her mother".
This "vacuum" in the law came to the court's attention when it was hearing the appeal of a man convicted and awarded life term for raping his minor step-daughter who, as a result of the crime, gave birth at the tender age of 14.
Noting the "sordid scenario" in the instant case, where "the trust and confidence reposed in the man by his wife and step-daughter, was abused by him to bring about, out of sheer lust, untold miseries on the body, mind and psyche of the prosecutrix child leaving scars which would not ever heal", the court upheld his conviction and sentence.
It also clarified that the man shall remain behind bars for the remainder of his natural life, saying "we see no scope for any ruth (pity) in the matter of punishment". While upholding the sentence, the bench also expressed displeasure over the manner in which the trial court "gave a go-by" to the precaution mandated under POCSO to keep the minor victim's identity confidential.