In an order likely to have far-reaching effects, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday that private hospitals could neither “turn away” victims of acid attack nor wash their hands of after providing first aid.
The court made it mandatory for these hospitals across the country to provide full and free medical treatment to the victims. The order said the term “treatment” included reconstructive surgery, free medicines, bed, rehabilitation and aftercare.
By Kanu Sarda
Published: 11th April 2015
NEW DELHI: In a bid to help acid attack survivors, the Supreme Court on Friday directed private hospitals across the country to provide free treatment, including medicines and expensive reconstruction surgeries, to such victims.
A social justice bench, comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit, asked all State governments and Union Territories to take up the matter with the private hospitals to ensure that acid attack victims are attended to immediately and adequately.
It also asked the Medical Council of India (MCI) to take up the issue of free treatment with private hospitals. The court disposed of a 2006 PIL filed by an acid attack survivor Laxmi and said the hospitals, where such victims are rushed after the incident, would have to provide a certificate / document stating that the person was an acid attack victim and the document would enable her or him to access free treatment, including surgeries, at a later stage.
The court further directed all the states and UTs to notify acid as a scheduled substance to stop its unregulated sale across the counter. The court ruled that its order should be sent to chief secretaries of all states and UTs, who in turn, must ensure that it reaches district magistrates for compliance and directed them to publicise it to ensure awareness among the people.
During the hearing, the bench, which had fixed Rs 3 lakh as minimum compensation in such cases, was informed by Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for the Centre, that the victims’ compensation schemes have been put in place by almost all the state governments.
When the bench asked whether Andhra Pradesh or Telangana have not formulated the compensation scheme, lawyer Krishna Kumar Singh, appearing for the new state of Telangana, said the needful has been done. The Centre, in its affidavit filed in pursuance of February 6 order of the court, has said that in 2014, 309 acid attack incidents were reported in the country.
During 2011, 2012 and 2013, the country witnessed 83, 85 and 66 cases respectively, it said, adding a maximum of 185 were reported in Uttar Pradesh.
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