Mandatory directions given for urgent steps to alleviate the sufferings of acid attack victims

Uttaranchal High Court: Taking consideration of the trauma and uncertainty faced by the acid attack victims, and observing that incidents of acid burning or throwing cause physical, mental and psychological torture and that every person has a right to life including the right to live free from any kind of mental, physical and psychological torture, be it stalking, sexual harassment or burning, the Division Bench of Rajiv Sharma and Sharad Sharma, JJ., issued the following mandatory directions for the State Government to control and curb the cases of acid attacks:

  • The State Government must constitute a Criminal Injuries Compensation Board for the acid attack victims and include the victims of acid attacks in the category of physically challenged persons for the purpose of reservation in public employment and also to make separate scheme for their rehabilitation
  • In consonance with the decision of the Supreme Court in Laxmi v. Union of India, (2016) 3 SCC 669, all the private hospitals of the State must provide medical assistance to the acid attack victims.
  • Prohibition on over the counter sale of acid in the State and only sale from one licensed dealer to another licensed dealer or to any school or college or any research or medical institution or hospital or dispensary under a registered medical practitioner or any recognized public institution or industrial firm shall be permitted. FIR shall be registered against any person indulging in unauthorized sale of acid. Furthermore the State Police must ensure that prompt FIR is registered under Sections 326A, 326B, 354A, 354B, 354C & 354D of I.P.C
  • Urging upon the need to fast track the cases pertaining to sexual harassment, stalking, voyeurism and acid burning, the Court directed the Trial Courts throughout the State to hear the cases registered under Sections 326A, 326B, 354A, 354B, 354C & 354D of I.P.C. on day to day basis with due sensitivity and conclude the trial within three months. The State Government was also directed to ensure that eye-witnesses are provided maximum security during the pendency of cases under the aforementioned provisions.
  • Directions were also given to the Government to provide for free medical aid to the acid victims till their full recovery and to grant ex-gratia payment of Rs.1 lakh to acid attack victims immediately after the registration of FIR and also to pay a sum of Rs.7,000 and Rs. 5,000 per month to the victims who have received third/fourth degree burns injuries and where the burns injuries are of first degree and second degree respectively.

In a passionately written judgment, the Judges quoted several landmark decisions of the Supreme Court and of Courts of other nations wherein it has been reiterated several times that ‘life’ does not mean mere animal existence; it means the right to live with human dignity and all that goes along with it. Similarly ‘liberty’ envisages much more than just the right of the citizen to be free from the mere physical restrain of his person. [State of Uttarakhand v. Ajam, 2017 SCC OnLine Utt 695, decided on 12.06.2017]

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