SC 'appalled' at Bihar government's acid-attack compensation
The SC rebuked the "appalling" way the Bihar administration had handled the case of the Dalit acid attack victim by providing inadequate compensation. SC directed Bihar government to pay Rs.13 lakh to the victim. SC directed the government to include acid attack victims in the social justice ministry's disability list. They will gain access to government welfare programmes, reservation in jobs and education schemes.
In October 2012, 4 assailants had attacked girl named Chanchal while she was sleeping. The attackers had "poured acid on her face and body – some of which fell on her sister lying nearby - and then stayed back to "enjoy" as both girls shrieked with pain." When rushed to the hospital, the doctors did not arrive till the next morning for treatment.
The 2012 Bihar attack had made the SC issue several major directives to states towards helping acid-attack victims. This included ordering all hospitals to give free treatment, including expensive reconstruction surgeries and medicines. Moreover, the court had asked all states and UTs to notify acid as a "scheduled substance" to stop its off-the-counter unregulated sale in the country.
Bihar government offered a helping hand to women who suffered from acid attacks by making a promise of medical compensation up to Rs.1 lakh from the Chief Minister's fund. This was determined at a gathering of the state cabinet which was chaired by Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi. This decision came as a shock to victims who claimed that this compensation was 'unfair'.
A report published in April 2015 declared that in 2014 there had been 309 cases of acid attacks, a 300% increase from the previous 3 years (2011, 2012 and 2013 witnessed 83, 85 and 66 cases respectively).
The governments of 4 states were asked by the Supreme Court to justify why a contempt procedure should not be launched against them for neglecting to "submit a comprehensive programme for the rehabilitation and treatment of acid attack survivors." The states in question were Kerala, Karnataka, Mizoram and Madhya Pradesh, who were given a fortnight's time to reply to the contempt-of-court notice.
The SC directed a NGO to register a contempt case against the hospitals and other officials who were not complying with the Supreme Court directions "on providing free treatment to acid attack victims." NGO Parivartan Kendra had sought the court's injunction on rehabilitation of acid attack victims, alleging that private hospitals refrained from providing free treatment to the victims.
Most states in India offer a maximum compensation of Rs.3 lakhs to the acid attack victims.