SC stays Allahabad HC's closure order of cafe operated by acid attack survivors


Setting aside the order of Allahabad High Court (Lucknow bench) which upheld the shutting down of 'Sheroes Hangout' cafe in Lucknow (run by Acid Attack survivors) as per the decision of the Uttar Pradesh government, the Supreme Court on 10th October directed for status quo of the cafe for 9 months and said that it would be desirable the the High Court reaches a conclusion over the case (Chaanv Foundation vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and ors.) within that period. Cafe 'Sheroes Hangout' is a one of a kind project in India run by the Chaanv Foundation with the motive of facilitating rehabilitation and providing employment to acid attack survivors. The first cafe was set up in Agra (through crowdfunding), and Akhilesh Yadav, the then Chief Minister had visited the cafe. Impressed by the initiative, he had invited the Founders to set up a similar cafe in Lucknow in 2016 with the promise (indicative, not formalised at the time) that the land given for the cafe will hold for 30 years. However, only two years later starting August 2018, the employees of the cafe started receiving threatening calls and visits from goons along with executives of private companies informing them that they can no longer run the cafe on that property and soon they found out that the state government had decided to sell off the land given to the run the cafe (the cafe is located in a prime location and many private players who wish to run the cafe for profit under private ownership have been eyeing the property). The petitioners (Chaanv Foundation) approached the Allahabad High Court (Lucknow Bench) to seek relief but their prayers were denied. The Supreme Court, taking into account the moralistic purpose behind setting up the cafe and the benefits the program has provided to several acid attack survivors (including Laxmi Agarwal, whose case in the Supreme Court was instrumental in bringing the grievances of acid attack survivors and vulnerable sections of women to the forefront which led the Supreme Court to hold the central and state governments for their inaction and forced them to respond and act immediately on acid sale, compensation and rehabilitation etc.), has stayed the closure of the cafe for 9 months and asked (desirable) the High Court to dispose off the matter within that period. Sheroes Hangout Cafe is located opposite Dr. B R Ambedkar Park, Vipin Khand, Gomti Nagar, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh 226010. Do visit! Please find the order attached.