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    Acid attack survivors seek enhancement of the amount of compensation

    Text on it: campaign against acid attacks
    Date : 19/12/2016

    Daulatbi Mohd. Hussain Khan & ORs (Petitioners) v. State of Maharashtra & Ors. (Writ Petition No.962 of 2016)

     

    Synopsis:

    Issues:

      • The Petitioners, who are acid attack survivors and who received compensation under the Maharashtra Victim Compensation Scheme, 2014 sought enhancement of the amount of compensation in terms of the orders passed by the Supreme Court in Laxmi v. Union of India and several other matters thereafter which laid out that the minimum amount of compensation for acid attack survivors should be Rs. 3 lacs.

    Facts:

     

    • Petitioners, including Alina Baig are survivors of a gruesome acid attack while residing in Mumbai, in the state of Maharashtra.
    • Respondents consists of the Women and Child Department of the State of Maharashtra, the Health Department which overseas health services in the Maharashtra, District Legal Service Authority (which processes the Manodhairya Scheme, and private hospitals mandated by the orders passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Laxmi v. Union of India to provide treatment to survivors of acid attacks.
    • Petitioners and the daughter of Petitioner No. 2, (one-year-old at the time) were assaulted with acid on 04/10/2010, by their elder sister, her husband and son. As a result, Petitioners have sustained deep burns. Petitioners have undergone a series of reconstructive operations in order return to a dignified and functional state of living. In order to receive such treatment, Petitioners were forced to alienate their assets in one instance including their home, and raise money through loans to be able to undergo the previously mentioned treatments.

     

     

    Description:

     

     

    • The Petition was initially filed seeking compensation from the State Government. During the pendency of the Petition, the Petitioners received Compensation under the Maharashtra Victim Compensation Scheme, 2014 of Rs. 3 lacs each. An amendment was thereafter carried out in the Petition seeking enhancement of the amount of compensation received.
    • Although the State of Maharashtra has introduced a scheme to effectuate the directions of the Hon’ble Apex Court, the said scheme is not in accordance with the directions passed by the Hon’ble Apex Court in Laxmi v. Union of India.
    • The said Scheme arbitrarily discriminates against and disadvantages victims who have been attacked with acid before 02.10.2013
    • The financial assistance under the Scheme is insufficient as it adds a cap on the amount which can be paid to acid attack victims. The Maximum financial assistance under the Manodhariya scheme of Rs. 3,00,000 is an inadequate and aribitraty sum of money. Rs. 50, 000 which is the maximum amount available for acid attack injury is also too small a sum for assisting an acid attack victim.
    • The Supreme Court’s order in Laxmi v. Union of India mandates that a minimum Rs. 3 lakhs be paid to the victim as compensation for aftercare and rehabilitation.”
    • Petitioners submitted that the Respondent Authorities have failed to take into account the loss of earnings of family members who may be required to assist the victims while putting aside their own livelihood. Further, Petitioners submit that acid attack victims are often denied access to medication due to the inability to access the latest equipment and technology in Government run hospitals, forcing such victims to seek help elsewhere and take out loans and incur large amounts of debt in order to receive proper medical care.
    • It is submitted that this arbitrary cap is contradictory to sub-clause 2 of the clause 5 of the said scheme.
    • Petitioners submit that as required by the ruling in Laxmi v. Union of India and as suggested by the Solicitor General, any amount under the sum of 3 Lakhs is an inadequate amount of compensation to an acid attack victim, and that the paid compensation to a victim of an acid attack shall be of at least 3 lakhs by the State Government/Union Territory concerned as aftercare and rehabilitation cost.”
    • Pertinently, the order passed in the Laxmi Case was upheld by the Supreme Court in Parivartan Kendra & Anr vs. U.O.I. & Ors. (Writ Petition No. 867 of 2013), whereby vide its Judgment dated 7th December, 2015 the Court held that it is the responsibility of the State to ensure proper treatment and rehabilitation for the victims of Acid Attacks, and that the order passed in the Laxmi Case does not provide a bar to payment of enhanced compensation to the victims. The Court held that given the effect of an acid attack on a victim’s social, economical, and personal life, the enhancement of the compensation amount was necessary as victims of acid attacks often require permanent treatments to the damaged skin. The amount of 3 Lakhs as a minimum would be rather insufficient to tend to such injuries. Although the compensation may be an additional burden on the State, the prevention of such a crime is also the responsibility of the State and the liability to pay such enhanced compensation will be of the State.”

     

    Status:

     

    The matter is pending final disposal. However a statement has been by the Advocate appearing on behalf of the State Government that the State has proposed to increase the amount of compensation, the said proposal is awaiting final approval from the cabinet.

     

    Findings:

     

    • That the Maharashtra Victim Compensation Scheme, 2014 is not in accordance with the orders passed by the supreme Court in Laxmi v. Union of India in as much as the said order clearly states the minimum amount of compensation that must be paid to a victim of acid attack, and the Maharashtra Victim Compensation Scheme, 2014 requires amendment to this extent.
    • It is the obligation of the State to compensate the victims of acid attack in as much as acid attack on a woman is a gross violation of her fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
    • Compensation cannot be restricted to Rs. 3 lacs.
    • All the aforesaid aspects and the order of the Apex Court passed from times to time shall be brought to the notice of the Additional Chief Secretary of the Home Department of the State Government who shall take an appropriate decision as expeditiously as possible.

     

    Further readings suggested:

     

    • Compensation for acid attack survivors in the State of Maharashtra to be enhanced- http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-compensation-for-acid-attack-victims-to-now-be-rs-5-lakh-says-cm-2343575

     

     

    Daulabi Order dt. 19.12.2016
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