Supreme Court notice to Centre, states and UTs on PIL on acid attack victims

The Supreme Court has sought the Centre’s response on a petition relating to sufferings of acid attack victims across India and questioning the sale of acid in open market.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, also issued notice to all the states and Union territories on the plea for a direction for compliance of the guidelines and various laws pertaining to the victims.

The petition has asked for a direction to increase the minimum compensation amount of Rs 3 lakh for the victims, as directed by the apex court earlier, to at least Rs 12 lakh for the loss caused by such incidents, which led to partial or total disability.

It claimed that acid attacks have gone up and the top court’s guidelines on prohibition on sale of acid in open market was being violated.

Advocate Anuja Kapur, who has filed the PIL, referred to such incidents, including the attack in December last year on a 22-year-old woman in Gurgaon and a 2011 incident in Meerut in which a man was the victim.

The PIL claimed that the “procedure involved in the release of compensation and medical treatement (to such victims) are very tedious, lengthy and tiresome even after various guidelines and laws for it”.

It submitted that since the existing laws and guidelines were not workable at the ground level, the victims underwent “secondary victimisation”.

The plea sought a “one-window operation”, which could facilitate, help and assist the acid attack victims for their survival and rehabilitation.

It alleged that compensation, to be awarded to the victims as per the apex court’s guidelines, was not being provided to them.

“The PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) has issued clear directions to the police departments of the states for taking strict actions against the culprits who indulged in open sale of acid, but no concrete action has been taken for the same,” it said, adding that 1,189 acid attack cases were reported between 2010 to 2016.

SC voices concern over rehabilitation of acid attack victims

Voicing concern over improper rehabilitation of the acid attack victims, Supreme Court today asked the government to apprise it of steps taken to provide free treatment to the survivors of the heinous crime.

A social justice bench, comprising justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit, directed the Union Home Secretary to convene a meeting of chief secretaries and their counterparts in states in four weeks to work out modalities to implement Section 357C of the CrPC (Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013).

It mandates provision of free treatment by public and private hospitals to the victims of acid attack.

“How do you propose to implement Section 357C of CrPC? What is the mechanism for providing free treatment? Parliament has passed a legislation and it has to be implemented.

“We direct Union Home Secretary to file an affidavit in the form of a chart in this regard within six weeks,” the bench, while hearing a PIL filed in 2006 by Delhi-based acid attack victim Laxmi, said.

During the hearing, advocate Aparna Bhat, appearing for an acid victim, told the apex court that earlier directions issued by the apex court have been complied with, except on the issue of the State bearing 100 per cent cost of treatment.

“Haryana has framed a scheme for providing 100 per cent medical expenses for specialised plastic surgery, corrective surgeries and specialised psychological treatment to the acid attack victims. Other states are yet not clear on their stand,” she said.

Expressing concern over the “erratic” compensation being paid to acid attack victims, Bhat told the apex court that the post-operative care of the victims was also very poor.

Acid attack victims allege custodial violence : HC

The Delhi High Court has directed the city’s Police Commissioner to ensure preservation of CCTV footage of December 18 at Parliament Street police station on a plea by some acid attack victims that they were subjected to “custodial violence” while holding a peaceful protest.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru also issued s notice to Delhi Police seeking its response to the plea of the acid attack victims who have alleged that the police had on December 18 intercepted them when they were holding a protest and detained them at Parliament Street police station.
The court directed the Commissioner of Police to ensure that CCTV footage of December 18 between 11 am to 5pm of Parliament Street police station is preserved and listed the matter for further hearing on February 3, 2015.

The petitioners, in their plea filed through advocate Lauv Kumar, have also alleged the detainees, including five women, were beaten up by the police while they were kept in an enclosure inside the police station.

“The petitioners and other protestors were brought to Parliament Street police station wherein they were detained inside a compound situated somewhere in the middle of the premises.

“The officials of Delhi Police resorted to physical violence and beating of the detained protesters. The detained persons repeatedly demanded the officials at Parliament Street police station to get their medical check-up done which was squarely denied..,” the petition has said.

It has sought preservation of the CCTV footage of the police station, saying they were “a piece of key evidence” of “all the unwarranted physical and custodial violence”.

It has also sought “an independent investigation by a special investigation team into the above-mentioned incident of illegal detention, police atrocities and custodial violence” as well as damages to the tune of Rs 10 lakh from the Delhi Police.

The petition has also sought Rs 50,000 each as compensation from Delhi Police to all the five petitioners and guidelines from the court for dealing with the detention of protesters in and around Jantar Mantar or Parliament by the police.