New Delhi: Prime Minister and Chief Ministers
have the discretion to disburse amounts from relief fund for compensation to victims of calamities and crime but this is not "unfettered" and they cannot act on "whims and fancies",
the Supreme Court has ruled.
A bench of justices R V Raveendran and A K Patnaik
quashed a Rajasthan High Court judgement which had ruled that
the Chief Minister cannot grant compensation from his relief fund in an "arbitrary manner" to rape victims and the compensation must be uniform.
The disbursal of relief amount is purely ex-gratia at the
discretion of the Chief Minister. The Relief Fund Rules do not
create any right in any victim to demand or claim monetary
relief under the fund, Justice Raveendran writing the
The apex court, however, clarified that all functionaries
of the State are expected to act in accordance with law,
eschewing unreasonableness, arbitrariness or discrimination.
"They cannot act on whims and fancies. In a democracy
governed by the rule of law, no government or authority has
the right to do what it pleases.
"Where the rule of law prevails there is nothing like
unfettered discretion or unaccountable action. But this does
not mean that no discretion can be vested in an authority or
functionary of high standing," the bench said.
The apex court passed the judgement while upholding an
appeal filed by the Rajasthan Government challenging the State
High Court`s direction that all victims of rape should be paid
equal compensation and there shall not be any discrimination
vis-a-vis the amount.