New Delhi, December 7
The Supreme Court on Monday directed all the states and union territories (UTs) to compensate, rehabilitate and provide free treatment to the survivors of acid attacks in pursuance of guidelines issued by it earlier.
A bench of justices M Y Eqbal and C Nagappan gave the direction while dealing with a case of an acid attack victim from Bihar.The court asked the Bihar government to pay a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the victim, besides providing her free treatment, including reconstruction surgery.
The bench also asked the states and UTs to provide all kind of help to such victims as provided in an earlier judgement.The present matter was brought before the apex court by Bihar-based NGO Parivartan Kendra, which has sought it’s direction on rehabilitation of acid attack victims, alleging that private hospitals were not providing free treatment to the victims.
“Why don’t you file a contempt case,” a bench comprising MY Eqbal and C Nagappan said, on being informed that private hospitals were not giving free treatment to victims of acid attack and “washing their hands of” without even providing first aid.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for Bihar-based NGO Parivartan Kendra which has sought court’s direction on rehabilitation of acid attack victims, alleged that private hospitals were not providing free treatment to the victims.
“Both private and government hospitals have to give free treatment,” the counsel said, adding that the private ones were violating the order.
He also said that most of the states have fixed the amount of Rs three lakh as maximum compensation to the victim.
Earlier, the court had come to the aid of acid attack survivors by issuing directions including an order to all private hospitals across the country to provide free treatment, including medicines and expensive reconstruction surgeries, to such victims.It had asked all state governments and Union Territories to “take up the matter with private hospitals” to ensure acid attack victims are attended to immediately and adequately.
The court had on September 9 issued show cause notices against governments of Kerala, Karnataka, Mizoram and Madhya Pradesh asking why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for not filing replies to a slew of directions it had issued to take care of acid attack victims.
It had asked the Chief Secretaries of the four states to appear and file their responses to the contempt notices within two weeks.
Chief Secretaries of four states had appeared and said they have filed responses on the issue of treatment and rehabilitation of the acid attack victims.
Prior to this, the court had come to the aid of acid attack survivors by issuing several major directions including ordering all private hospitals across the country to provide free treatment, including medicines and expensive reconstruction surgeries, to such victims.
The hospitals, where such victims are rushed after an incident, would have to provide a certificate stating that the person was an acid attack victim. This document would enable her or him to access free treatment, including surgeries, at a later stage, the apex court had directed.
On the banning of off-the-counter acid sale across the country, it had asked all states and UTs to notify acid as a “scheduled substance” to stop its unregulated sale.
The court had also said its order should be sent to Chief Secretaries of all states and UTs, who in turn, would ensure that it reached District Magistrates for compliance and directed them to publicise it to ensure awareness among the people.
Commenting on Monday’s order, Laxmi, the acid attack survivor who spearheaded the battle for regulation of the sale of acid, said, “For us it is only an order, till it is implemented. The Supreme Court has always given us good orders but they get stuck in the implementation. It had ordered states to give Rs 3 lakh for medical expenses but that was implemented only after we sat on a hunger strike. Our problems need to be understood. We are not just handicapped, but victims of a crime.