The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notices to the central and state governments, asking why the Nirbhaya Fund, set up to compensate victims of rape and other forms of sexual abuse, was not being utilised. A vacation bench comprising justices PC Pant and DY Chandrachud said the fund would remain “lip service” unless used effectively, The Tribune reported.

Seeking replies from the Centre and states, the court directed them to form a national plan to provide rape victims with compensation and to come up with a witness protection programme, ANI reported. The top court also gave the states six weeks to provide details of the initiatives they had undertaken for the survivors of such crimes, and to prevent further cases.

The bench passed the order after hearing a petition that wanted the court to direct states to furnish information on at least 10 schemes meant to effectively deal with rape cases. Senior advocate Indira Jaisingh, who is assisting the apex court in a case that arose from nine PILs on the matter, brought the case to the court’s notice. She pleaded that states were not providing necessary details on whether they had set up the one-stop crisis centres they were supposed to and that they were paying victims measly amounts as compensation.

Following the December 2012 gangrape in Delhi, the government of India had announced the Nirbhaya Fund – a Rs 1,000 crore corpus – as part of its 2013 Union Budget. The then finance minister P Chidambaram had said the fund was expected to be used to support efforts and campaigns towards ensuring women’s safety in India.