MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The Calcutta High Court has ordered the government to pay compensation to a child trafficking survivor even though her case has yet to be tried, a ruling aid workers said could help hundreds of other victims get the money they need to move on with their lives.
The court said it would be "gross inhumanity" to delay compensation further in a country where cases can take years to come to trial, as it ordered state authorities to pay up within 10 days.
"Denial of compensation to such (a) victim would continue such violation and perpetrate gross inhumanity on the victim in question," said the court in its ruling on Monday.
The victim was just 14 when she was sold to a brothel in Pune, about 2,000 km from her home in West Bengal, in 2013.
She applied under a government scheme for 500,000 rupees (about $7,000) in compensation for the physical injuries and mental agony she suffered, but was turned down because the trial of her case had not begun.
Earlier appeals to local judicial bodies were also turned down for the same reason.
Campaigners said the high court's ruling would help win compensation for more rescued victims.
"We rescue 200 to 250 trafficked girls every year who are from West Bengal. We will now file applications for all the rescued victims," Ravi Kant, founder of anti-trafficking charity Shakti Vahini, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"In the absence of any state-sponsored rehabilitation, which is the right of the victim, this compensation can help them move ahead in life."
Most of the more than 8,000 human trafficking cases recorded in India in 2016 involved victims from West Bengal, according to India's National Crime Records Bureau.
Girls are lured with the promise of jobs in the city only to be sold into domestic servitude or sexual slavery.
"The judgment is significant as the trial has not begun," said lawyer Kaushik Gupta, who represented the survivor.
"The police have arrested two people, but are still looking out for two more people, including the main trafficker."
($1 = 68.9775 rupees)
(Reporting by Roli Srivastava @Rolionaroll, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org)