Acid attack: SC suggests filing contempt case against hospitals

The Supreme Court on Tuesday suggested to an NGO to file a contempt case alleging that hospitals and other authorities were not complying with court directions on providing free treatment to acid attack victims.

PTI| Updated: Nov 24, 2015, 20:29 PM IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday suggested to an NGO to file a contempt case alleging that hospitals and other authorities were not complying with court directions on providing free treatment to acid attack victims.

"Why don't you file a contempt case," a bench comprising MY Eqbal and C Nagappan said, on being informed that private hospitals were not giving free treatment to victims of acid attack and "washing their hands of" without even providing first aid.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for Bihar-based NGO Parivartan Kendra which has sought court's direction on rehabilitation of acid attack victims, alleged that private hospitals were not providing free treatment to the victims.

"Both private and government hospitals have to give free treatment," the counsel said, adding that the private ones were violating the order.

He also said that most of the states have fixed the amount of Rs three lakh as maximum compensation to the victim.

The government's counsel said the Centre has brought in changes in the IPC and the CrPC to facilitate these victims, including a compensation amount of Rs three lakh and extension of jail term for the accused to life imprisonment.

"We are obeying the Supreme Court judgement and not violating it in any manner," he said.

The counsel for Bihar said the state was providing compensation of Rs three lakh, besides free treatment including medicines and expensive reconstruction surgeries to the victims. The court had on September 9 issued show cause notices against governments of Kerala, Karnataka, Mizoram and Madhya Pradesh asking why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for not filing replies to a slew of directions it had issued to take care of acid attack victims.

It had asked the Chief Secretaries of the four states to appear and file their responses to the contempt notices within two weeks.

Chief Secretaries of four states had appeared and said they have filed responses on the issue of treatment and rehabilitation of the acid attack victims.

Prior to this, the court had come to the aid of acid attack survivors by issuing several major directions including ordering all private hospitals across the country to provide free treatment, including medicines and expensive reconstruction surgeries, to such victims.

It had asked all state governments and union territories to "take up the matter with the private hospitals" and ensure that acid attack victims are attended to immediately and adequately.

The hospitals, where such victims are rushed after an incident, would have to provide a certificate stating that the person was an acid attack victim. This document would enable her or him to access free treatment, including surgeries, at a later stage, the apex court had directed.

On the banning of off-the-counter acid sale across the country, it had asked all states and UTs to notify acid as a "scheduled substance" to stop its unregulated sale.

The court had also said its order should be sent to Chief Secretaries of all states and UTs, who in turn, would ensure that it reached District Magistrates for compliance and directed them to publicise it to ensure awareness among the people.