Parivartan Kendra v. Union of India (2016) 3 SCC 571
This is another landmark case in the history of acid attack legislation of India. An NGO named Parivartan Kendra had filed a writ petition in public interest in Supreme Court of India invoking its original jurisdiction under Art. 32 of the Indian Constitution to address the plight of acid attack victims even after its decision in Laxmi vs. Union of India & Ors.
The Petitioner attracted the court’s attention towards the increasing number of acid attack cases in India, the common reason behind these attacks, the inadequacy of current legislation and schemes in properly attending these cases and in providing best measures to avoid such cases in future and on the current legislation in Bangladesh to deal with this issue.
The facts of this case along with the reason why the NGO had to take up this case to present before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India are as follows:
- An 18-year-old girl named Chanchal was a Dalit girl living in a village in Bihar. She used to study computer science and aimed to be a computer engineer. Along with her studies, she also used to work as a daily wage worker in order to support her family finances.
- On her way to college, she used to get verbally and sexually harassed by four accused named Anil, Ghanshyam, Baadal, and Raja since one month from the incident.
- Chanchal had no recourse against them other than merely ignoring them and to continue with her daily schedule. She strongly opposed the harassment done by the accused and blatantly denied their illicit demands.
- One day while Chanchal and her sister were sleeping, the accused climbed on the roof of the victim and threw acid on Chanchal which spilled on her face and some parts of her body. The acid also affected some body parts of Chanchal’s sister as well.
- On listening to the cries of both the girls, their father rushed to them and took them to the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) where the doctors delayed the treatment which worsened the condition of both the girls primarily of Chanchal.
- Chanchal’s father had to bear all the medical expenses which went beyond his capacity to pay because of which he came under debt as well. The cost of primary medication went up to Rs. 5 lakh.
- The family also had to suffer mistreatment of the doctors and other people in the hospital because of the fact that they were Dalits. The girls were even denied admission and stay in the hospital because of their caste.
- Even after the incident police did not take action against the accused until pressure was created by media and other people. The police arrested the accused after a month from the incident but did not bother to take statements from the girls.
- After a lot of struggle, Chanchal’s father could get a remedy in form of Rs. 3 Lakh compensation in light of the decision of Supreme Court in Laxmi v. Union of India. But this amount was not sufficient to cover the losses caused to the girls and the family.
- Free medical treatment, medicines, and psychological care were also found to be necessary relief in this case.
- Chanchal’s father thereafter approached the petitioner for relief who after a detailed analysis of the case filed a writ petition in Hon’ble Supreme Court demanding proper medical care, plastic surgery, proper compensation, and rehabilitation for the victim and also to ensure that there are special legislation and guidelines for rehabilitation and justice for acid attack survivors.
- Whether the guidelines which were laid down by Hon’ble Court in Laxmi v. Union of India, provisions of Survivor Compensation Schemes, Criminal Amendment Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 and a compensation amount of Rs. 3 Lakh do not provide an adequate remedy to the acid attack victims and in compliance of the contemporary legislation around the world to deal with this offence.
- Whether there is a need for standard treatment and management guidelines for acid attack survivors.
- Whether additional measures need to be taken to ensure fundamental rights of citizens guaranteed by Indian Constitution and to secure the position of victims of acid attack who are primarily women and to provide certain other guidelines to ensure the speedy treatment, recovery, and rehabilitation of acid attack victims.
Judgment and Decision-
In light of the facts of the case, issues raised and situations analyzed, the Hon’ble court laid down in this case as follows:
- Considering the plight and needs of the victims it was held that Rs. 3 Lakh compensation as provided by SC in Laxmi’s case should be treated as a minimum and the states should provide for more amount as compensation as and when there is a need for it.
- The trauma faced by the victim is beyond the expectation of any person as mere sight of injuries caused by such inhuman attack is very traumatizing.
- The increasing numbers of acid attack cases were considered to be because of easy availability of acid and non-compliance of authorities to check the distribution of acid in accordance with the regulations already laid down in this respect.
- Hence, the court held that the State authorities have been careless in keeping a check over the distribution of acid and from avoiding it from going into wrong hands even after so many regulations have already been provided by the court in this regard.
- Hence strict actions shall be taken against those supplying acid without proper authorization and against the authorities concerned which have failed to maintain a proper check on them.
- The court observed that the States have also failed to comply by the Victim Compensation Scheme as ordered by the Court earlier and have been sanctioning a very meager amount which is not sufficient to address the trauma of the victim.
- The court addressed the burden of State that would befall by this order but stated that it was necessary to help the victim in rehabilitation and to make sure that the States are following guidelines properly.
- Hence the court allowed compensation of Rs. 10 Lakh for main victim Chanchal and Rs. 3 Lakh for her sister to be paid within a period of 3 months from the order.
- Further it took a responsibility on itself to deal with such victims and directed the State to make provisions for including acid attack victims in disability list.