The RTIwala Team has filed many RTI applications across India to collect, process and analyze the data for the Nirbhaya Fund reports. Today we’re releasing a series of groundbreaking exposes as on the allocation and utilization of the Nirbhaya Fund. Read further to know, how the Modi Government failed in allocating and utilizing the Nirbhaya fund meant for improving the safety and security of women in India.
The Nirbhaya Rape Case & Nirbhaya Fund
Before we start, we wish to share the whole incident, briefly. A 23-year-old paramedic student, Jyoti Singh Pandey, was brutally assaulted and gang-raped on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012 inside a running bus in South Delhi. She with her male friend when they boarded an off-duty private charter bus at Munrika, for Dwarka. There were six others in the bus including the driver all of whom raped the victim and beat her friend before throwing them out on the roadside.
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The partially clothed victims were found on the road by a passerby at around 11 pm. They were taken to Safdarjung Hospital, where Jyoti was given emergency treatment and placed on mechanical ventilation. She succumbed to her injuries on December 29, 2012, at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore. Since the Indian laws do not allow the press to publish a rape victim’s name, she has become known as Nirbhaya; it means the fearless.
This incident shocked the whole nation and generated widespread anger, and it was covered and condemned by national and international media. Public protests took place in New Delhi against state and the UPA Government for failing to provide security for women. Curfew was imposed around Rashtrapati Bhawan along with CrPC Section 144 to avoid large gatherings of people. Based on the statements, five adult men were charged for rape, murder, and kidnapping.
The juvenile, in this case, was tried by the Juvenile Justice Board, and he was found guilty and served three years in a remand home. One of the main accused, Ram Singh, died while in prison during the trial. The other four adults charged were found guilty by a trial court on September 10, 2013, which was upheld by SC later on 5 May 2017.
The Nirbhaya Fund
In the year 2013, the Finance Minister of that time, Mr. P. Chidambaram announced about the creation of a special Rs. 1000-crore “Nirbhaya Fund,” largely dedicated to improving women’s safety across India. While presenting the government’s budget for this fiscal year, Mr. Chidambaram said, “We have a collective responsibility to ensure the dignity and safety of women. Recent incidents have cast a long, dark shadow on our liberal and progressive credentials. As more women enter public spaces – for education or work or access to services or leisure – there are more reports of violence against them.”
The ruling pa, as well as the opposition, applauded and welcomed this move of the current govt. Whereas the student’s father told NDTV that he welcomes the government’s decision. “This is honoring our daughter since this is in her memory,” he said, adding that the fund should be used to assist women not just in Delhi but across the country.
How the Govt failed the Nirbhaya…
The then Finance Minister of the UPA Government allocated a corpus of ₹1000 Cr and then further added ₹1000 in the following year. Whereas the Modi Government has not even allocated the ₹1000Cr after 2014 and reduced it to ₹550-500 Cr. Not only this, in the year 2015-16, there was no contribution to the Nirbhaya fund from the Central Government as can be seen in the RTI reply by the MoWCD.
In addition to it, the Central Government has failed the Indian in proper utilization of the fund. As in December 2015, a Parliamentary Panel had criticized the government for not utilizing the Nirbhaya Fund. Even after issuing many guidelines to different ministries for utilization of the Nirbhaya Fund to other Ministries, more than 60% of the fund is still unutilized.
What’s more disturbing is…
As per the information provided by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to the Lok Sabha, the Empowered Committee (EC) has apprised 26 projects worth Rs 6,312 cr since 2015-16 and has released just Rs 979 cr that is 16% of the apprised funds. Whereas the yesterday on December 28, 2018 the Minister of State for Women and Child Development Dr. Virendra Kumar in a written reply in Lok Sabha today shared that only ₹1513.40 Cr (22%) out of the Amount Appraised by EC has been released to different Ministeries and Department.