Compensation of Rs. 4,00,000 and medical expenses amounting to Rs. 3,00,000 have been awarded by Madhya Pradesh High Court to acid attack survivior
Yashoda Bai vs. State of Madhya Pradesh
Acid attack can be defined as “the act of throwing acid or a similarly corrosive substance onto the body of another with the intention to disfigure, maim, torture, or kill.”The highest incidence of such attacks occurs in South Asia wherein the number of cases reported in India is soaring with no end in sight. This article aims to shed light on one such incident in a sea of hundreds which if not controlled could rapidly go on to scar an entire nation.
In this particular case the petitioner is Yashoda Bai, a poor woman who is married to an agriculturalist in Mathura. Nepal Singh (the accused) worked with the petitioner 8 months ago and had expressed his desire to enter into an illicit physical relationship with her on several occasions which had been promptly denied by the petitioner. On 18/10/2016, the petitioner attempted to lodge an FIR against Nepal Singh on the grounds of threats, physical abuse etc at Badganga Police Station but instead, the District Court Chairman (Respondent No. 7) lodged a Non-Cognizable Offence Report (NCR) as a result of which no action was taken against Nepal Singh. On 13th January 2017, at 8:10am opposite Deepmala Dhaba Sewar Road, Indore-the petitioner and the accused were in the midst of a heated quarrel when all of a sudden the accused threw acid on the petitioner’s face and fled on his accomplice, Arun Khati’s bike. The petitioner sustained grave burn injuries on her face, neck, head, ear, hand, leg, scalp and waist. She was immediately rushed to M.Y. Hospital Indore for treatment and on 13/01/2017 an FIR was lodged against the two accused namely, Nepal Singh and Arun Khati, under section 307, 326A, 34 of the IPC.
On being admitted to M.Y. Hospital, the petitioner was diagnosed with approximately 20% burn injuries but was not administered requisite medical attention by the hospital staff. Due to improper medical care, the petitioner developed puss in her scalp and holes in her right ear. In addition to this, she was discharged from the hospital on 3/02/2017 i.e. even before she had completely recovered. The court directed that she be transferred to a private hospital (Bombay Hospital) for the remainder of the treatment which included cosmetic surgery, hair implant, treatment for disfigured fingers etc. The expenses incurred by the hospital where the acid attack victim is undergoing treatment would be compensated by the state government. In Laxmi vs Union of India, it was decided that a victim of acid attack should be given a compensation of Rs. 3 Lakhs, one third of which should be paid within 15 days and the rest within 2 months. In the instant case, the requisite amount was not paid to the petitioner within this time frame. . The petitioner contended that as a result of the acid attack, she has been subjected to great mental and physical trauma due to which her confidence level was shattered and therefore, damages to the tune of Rs. 3 Lakh is not sufficient to cater to the loss. Since it is the responsibility of the State to prevent such crimes, the compensation amount must be higher.
In light of the irreversible physical and mental agony suffered, the petitioner Yashoda Bai sought from the High Court of Madhya Pradesh Rs. 30 Lakhs in the form of damages, lifetime support for medical treatment and development of a comprehensive rehabilitation scheme by the respondents/state for acid attack survivors involving housing, education and employment.
By the order dated 22/11/2017, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has directed the Bombay Hospital to continue with the treatment of the petitioner (advanced surgery). In accordance with this order, submission of a compliance report is to be made within 10 days by the collector regarding the status of the payment of additional amount of Rs. 1 Lakh (Prime Minister’s Relief Fund). The latest order issued by the Madhya Pradesh High Court dated 15/05/2018 grants time (4 weeks) to obtain instructions as to the decision taken by the respondent No.5 on the petitioner’s application in pursuance to the previous order.
This case is of great significance as it is the first case of its category in Madhya Pradesh wherein compensation amounting to Rs. 4,00,000 and medical expenses amounting to Rs. 3,00,000 have been awarded by the court. Moreover, the learned counsel of the petitioner has also raised the issue of providing employment to the acid attack victims in the public sector so as to cater to their future needs. The application for employment under the physically handicapped quota is still pending
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