The Jharkhand High Court (HC) has expressed its displeasure about the government’s attitude regarding taking appropriate steps for acid attack survivors especially with regards to medical care. In its order in a well-known case of acid attack it said that the Government isn’t bothered about the orders passed either by the HC or the Apex courts of India. The Court was expecting the state of Jharkhand to come up with its stand with respect to the compliance of order passed by the Supreme Court in Laxmi vs. Union of India & Ors., 2006.
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The petitioner to the case is Sonali Mukherjee, an acid attack survivor who was attacked by three men with acid in 2003 and had undergone 25 surgeries in ten years since the incident “just to look human again”. Sonali, a resident of Dhanbad in Jharkhand then, was attacked by three men whose sexual advances she refused. Soon after the attack, Sonali had to go to Delhi for treatment. Her body was completely lacerated posing a huge medical challenge. The corrosive acid thrown on her had burnt her eyes, nose, ears, cheeks, and parts of her scalp, neck, shoulders, breasts and back. She was 17. She had been caught unawares—she was startled in her sleep by the acid. She bled for three months straight. Today, every day for Sonali is a matter of life and death as she has no external tissue left.
Considering the gravity of the situation, the HC had ordered the state to “seriously discuss and take up the matter with all the private hospitals in their respective State/Union Territory to the effect that the private hospitals should not refuse treatment to victims of acid attack and that full treatment should be provided to such victims including medicines, food, bedding and reconstructive surgeries.”
Copy of the order may be read here
· The State/UTs will take a serious note of the directions of the Supreme Court with regard to treatment and payment of compensation to acid attack victims and to implement these directions through the issue of requisite orders/notifications.
· The private hospitals will also be brought on board for compliance and the State/UTs will use necessary means in this regard.
· No hospital/clinic should refuse treatment citing lack of specialized facilities.
· First-aid must be administered to the victim and after stabilization, the victim/patient could be shifted to a specialized facility for further treatment, wherever required.
· Action may be taken against hospital/clinic for refusal to treat victims of acid attacks and other crimes in contravention of the provisions of Section 357C of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. We expect the authorities to comply with these decisions.”
The Court reminded the government that “The Chief Secretary has also been directed to ensure that the order is sent to all the District Magistrates and due publicity is given to the order of this Court.”
It expressed its dismay over the “attitude of the respondents-authorities that “they are neither bothering about the order passed by the Hon'ble Apex Court nor the order passed by this Court.”
Finally, it said that “if the State will not come up with its affidavit regarding compliance of the order passed by the Hon'ble Apex Court in Laxmi (supra) by the next date of hearing, the Chief Secretary, State of Jharkhand; the Secretary, Social Welfare, Women & Child Development Department, Govt. of Jharkhand and the Deputy Commissioner, Dhanbad shall have to remain physically present in the Court on the next date of hearing.”