The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that it will ensure “holistic rehabilitation” and legal support to a 19-year-old woman who has alleged that she was sexually assaulted by her father when she was a minor.
The commission told a bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar that there is no specific policy in place for rehabilitation of rape and incest survivors in Delhi but the DCW on its own takes up rehabilitation of certain survivors who are in dire need for the same.
In an affidavit filed before the apex court, which is hearing the woman plea for transfer of the case lodged on her complaint from Ambala to Delhi, the DCW said rehabilitation provided by them to such survivors entails providing financial help, access to education, skill development and facilitating job opportunities.
The bench, also comprising justices Dinesh Maheshwari and C T Ravikumar, told the counsel appearing for the petitioner to interact with the officials of the commission in this regard and said it would hear the matter on Wednesday.
The petitioner’s counsel told the bench that the accused has not been apprehended yet and he is sending threatening messages and calls to the woman.
The bench said they can interact with the DCW officials and mention all these things so that they can take appropriate steps.
The top court observed that the first issue is of providing immediate comfort and security to the woman and the commission is willing to provide help to her.
The woman, in her petition drawn by advocate Akshita Goyal, has claimed that her father had sexually assaulted her when she was a minor and as her mother had passed away in 2016, there is no one to look after her in the family.
The DCW affidavit said the woman had approached it on July 23 with a complaint of alleged sexual assault by her father which took place when she was a minor and a senior member of the commission interacted with her and held a detailed counselling.
It said a support team of the commission had visited the police station with the woman and later, a zero FIR was lodged here and it was transferred to Ambala in view of jurisdictional issue.
A zero FIR can be filed in any police station and it is then forwarded to the concerned police station under whose jurisdiction the alleged offence has been committed for necessary action.
“The commission is keen to facilitate the best possible opportunities for the applicant (woman) and ensure her holistic rehabilitation,” the DCW said in its affidavit.
It said in all cases, especially in sexual assault, the commission strives to provide best possible counselling, psychological support, access to proper medical facilities as well as legal support to the survivor.
“While there is no specific policy for rehabilitation of rape and incest survivors in place in the state of Delhi, the commission on its own accord takes up rehabilitation of certain survivors who are in dire need for the same. The rehabilitation provided by the commission thus far to survivors has entailed providing financial help, access to education, skill development and facilitating job opportunities,” it said.
The commission has said it has contacted the woman for a detailed interaction so that a plan can be chalked out for her rehabilitation as per her aspirations.
It said that based on her interest, the commission can facilitate to place her in a shelter home and arrange for her further education and enrol her in probable skill development courses so that she can become self-independent and lead a normal life.
The DCW said if the woman wishes to stay with her relatives or independently and want to pursue further education or get herself enrolled in skill development courses, the commission shall ensure full support for her rehabilitation.
It said so far as safety, security and protection of the woman is concerned, it comes within the ambit of the Delhi Police.
The commission said if the case is transferred from Ambala to Delhi, it would provide all legal assistance and possible support during investigation and trial in the case.
The affidavit said the DCW would also provide assistance to her in seeking compensation under the victim compensation scheme to meet out her basic needs which may help in her rehabilitation.
On September 24, the apex court had asked the DCW to apprise what steps would it take to provide relief to the woman.
It had also asked the Delhi Police to inform whether it has any objection in taking over the investigation in the case. In her petition, filed through advocate Abhinav Agrawal, the woman has said that she had left her home on July 22 and went to one of her relatives house and the next day, she had approached the DCW. She has sought a direction that upon transfer of the case to Delhi, it be investigated as per the procedure prescribed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 and also the standing order issued by Delhi Police for response and probe into cases of a sexual offence.
It has also sought a direction to the DCW to look after the protection and basic necessities of the woman as she fears for her safety.