By Kshitij Rajoo from MS Ramaiah Law College, Bangalore
This is basically a Landmark case in the history of acid attacks in India. There was an independent organization called Parivartan Kendra who filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court of India requesting its jurisdiction under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution which gives people the right to go to the Supreme Court to seek justice when they feel their rights have been ‘unfairly deprived’. and unless there is an amendment to the Constitution, the rights guaranteed by this Article cannot be revoked. This was a case filed in court after the Laxmi vs. case. Union of India and Ors. which was the case of most Acid Attack.
In addition, the applicant in this case has drawn the Supreme Court of India to a growing number of court cases related to Acid attacks. Further the case highlights the deficiency and inadequacy and measures to manage acid attacks and to minimize the spread of acid attacks that are happening to the women of the country and what guidelines, rules and regulations should be followed by the institutions or hospitals who store acid for different purposes of use. Basically, there are different aspects connected to this case like the political aspects, social aspects, economical aspects etc. Further we will get to know more about how state performs its duties.
The facts of the case will continue to give a clear idea of the case and what happened and why the application was filed in court?
There was an 18-year-old girl named Chanchal, who lived in the small village of Bihar. He used to study in college and aspired to be a Computer Engineer. In addition to college he worked as a daily wage worker to support his family financially and earn money. One day on his way home from college four men insulted him, sexually assaulting him. Chanchal can’t do anything without ignoring them and moving on. They threatened him and his family members, by wandering near his house on their motorcycles, breaking through the curtains of their house and telling him that if he did not listen their demands and they agree to have sex with them they would injure and damage her face.
One day while Chanchal and his sister were sleeping in their home one of the four people climbed a wall and managed to get inside their house. He then threw acid at Chanchal because his face was burnt and even his sister’s face was found on his face and body parts. Her father rushed them to Patna Medical College and to the hospital where doctors delayed the situation, which further worsened the girls’ condition. Patna Hospital waited more than a month to perform surgery on her older sister. Three surgeries were performed on an older woman. It is alleged that all three surgeries were misdiagnosed, and that hospital staff and doctors treated the victim and his family as inferior. Chanchal’s father had to pay a total of 5 lakhs when he could not afford to pay and decided to take out a loan because of that debt. The family after this case had to suffer terribly for the doctors and hear a lot of things from the people in their village as they were Dalits, even though they were denied custody of them in hospital. Three surgeries were performed on an older woman. It is alleged that all three surgeries were misdiagnosed, and that hospital staff and doctors treated the victim and his family as inferior. With the help of the applicant – Organization, the victim was transferred to Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi on April 5, 2013, where he finally received appropriate treatment. The IG Police had previously issued a statement in an interview stating that the victim’s statement would be taken under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
When they installed the FIR at the police station the police did not take strong action against the accused and tried to disrupt the matter. It was also until, unless the pressure of the media was not increased after that they arrested the accused and took his statement and did not even take the girls’ statement.
Free medicine, medication and the price were given to the family which also received much-needed support from the family. Compensation of Rs. 3 Lakh does not cover all the costs incurred by the victim of acid attack. The applicant further argues that the Union of India has not developed any standard treatment and management guidelines; public health facilities etc., to treat victims of acid attacks. The applicant sought the development of a comprehensive acid rehabilitation program, namely housing, education and employment. In addition, the Center and the States / Union Territories will work to make cases under the Toxic Act, 1919 recognizable and non-existent.
- Issues raised by Government
After the case took place in Bihar province, various issues were raised, and they were taken to the High Court.
However, additional steps must be taken to protect the fundamental rights of Indian citizens guaranteed by the Indian Constitution of India and to protect the status of victims of acid attacks who are mainly women in society. And various guidelines should be provided for immediate treatment, recovery and treatment of the victim. Governments / Union Areas should discuss in depth and address this issue with all private hospitals in their state / state districts so that private hospitals do not accept treatment for people affected by acid and that they should receive full treatment. including medication, diet, bed rest and rehabilitation. We have experienced many cases of acid attacks across the country. These attacks were rampant for the simple reason that there was no proper use of regulations or controls for the supply and distribution of acid. There have been many cases where acid victims have been forced to stay at home because of their difficulty in working.
According to the facts Chanchal should be compensated more than she deserves because her whole life was ruined just because of this Acid attack. More than 10,000-15,000 girls are the victims of acid attacks in the country. I recommend these types of people should be hanged to death or should be punished harshly so that every other person who thinks to do this again will think for like 100 times!
One of the issues raised was that weather proper measures and guidelines should be taken into consideration for the protection of the rights which were violated in this acid attack case.
Another issue raised was that weather the girls who were the victim should be provided with compensation from the government and even free medication, medicines and whatever they need to get cured. Further court said that they have been across so many cases filed for the acid attacks and where the supply of acid was done illegally which further caused these attacks in the states.
- JUDGEMENTS AND DECISIONS
After the issues raised by the government finally the courts came to a decision. Where a bench of lawyers which consist of Justice M.Y Iqbal and Justice C. Nagappan has passed their orders. Hearing the writ petition filed by the NGO Parivartan Kendra, looking for a compensation for the two girls who were part of the acid attack. Further looking in the case, court decided to compensate both the girls with an amount of Rs. 3 Lakhs-10 Lakhs. Further, the court decided that it was important to help the victim in appropriate manner with all those things needed to get cured.
Also, the court has passed their judgement that no hospital or any clinic should not deny both the victims for the treatment and even for any surgeries or further medications required as such. If any complaint or any denial against the hospital by the victims, they are completely free to act against them or file a case against them as they wish to do. Court observed that the even the state also denied helping the victim or file a case against the accused. The court further declared that the educational institutions, Schools, Hospitals, who are required to keep, and store acid should be following various rules and guidelines made by the court.
The instructions that should be followed by the educational institutions, schools or Hospitals are as follows:
- A proper register or a written document should be prepared by the institution of how much amount the acid is stored and for what is being used for.
- The acid should be kept in a safe place with proper care and supervision.
- A person should be made accountable for the possession and safe keeping of acid in the premises.
It has been seen that most of the damage happened to the girl who wants to become a computer engineer with whole face and body both burnt, whereas her sister has not suffered that much amount of damage as of her sister. From the records it has been observed that the accused has completely ruined the girls life and further the girl went into mental trauma and depression.
Court further directed the Chief officers of the states and Union Territories that necessary instructions should be taken by the Police Stations about the filing of a FIR, and actions should be taken accordingly. Hence, the court has also observed the carelessness of the state for supplying of the acids where no major step was taken. Hence the court noticed that the victims who were suffering from these types of incidents didn’t get the enough medical response which has further worsen their conditions. Hence, action will be taken against those persons supplying acid without proper authorization and the concerned authorities be made responsible for failure to keep a check on the distribution of the acid.
As a result of this case the victim cannot further lead to a normal life, she will have to face many difficulties during her life. Therefore, the after care and rehabilitation cost that must be incurred will have huge financial implications on her and her family. We can see that acid attack is a crime committed against many men and women, it does not only happen to a specific gender in India. But most of the attacks have been committed on women, particularly the young women’s who just have started their journey in their career.
- Coming to the conclusion of this case according to me compensation is not enough for the victim as her life has been destroyed by the acid falling on her face and body both due to which she cannot even focus on her career as she wanted to become a computer engineer which would be now much more difficult to and the accused has completely destroyed both the girls life. As victims father has spent a lot of money on his daughter for the medications, surgeries, medicines etc. and as he belong to a lower caste which are Dalits further he cannot manage more to spend after which he went into debt, and even with the compensated amount he cannot clear off his debts, he has spent a lot on both the girls which now the compensated amount will not be enough to fulfill or cover up his debts and finances. The victims, who cannot work, should get a pension so that these people can support their families with the finances. Upon recovery, acid attack survivors face many mental health issues such as higher levels of anxiety, depression, etc. due to their appearance. Due to these types of attacks many of the victims become handicapped and further are completely dependent on either their family or the spouse for the daily activities. Even these types of dependencies are increased nowadays, and the victim of the acid survivors are not able to find a suitable work just because they are handicapped or burnt face, or body.