Citing that acid attack victims are entitled to compensation and rehabilitation benefits under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, the Bombay High Court has directed the Maharashtra government to pay Rs 10 lakh to a victim from the city. In an order passed earlier this week, a bench of Justices Ujjal Bhuyan and Madhav Jamdar directed the state government to pay the compensation and also bear the expenses of the woman’s facial reconstruction surgery and other medical needs as provided under the 2016 Act.
The bench was hearing a plea filed by a mother of two children, who had been assaulted by her husband in 2010.
According to the order, the victim’s husband had poured a corrosive substance on her face while she was asleep, as a result of which she had suffered severe burn injuries.
The woman had spent Rs 5 lakh on medical treatment, and was yet to receive any compensation from the state authorities, the court noted. “This is really an unfortunate case. The petitioner’s right to lead a meaningful life, a life with dignity, within the meaning of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, remains a distant dream,” the High Court said.
“In such circumstances, the writ court will be failing in its duty if it does not direct payment of just compensation to the petitioner, as well as rehabilitation measures for her,” it said.
The court has ordered the state government to pay the woman the compensation amount within three months. “Under the 2016 Act, an ‘acid attack victim’ will be considered to be a person suffering from specified disability,” the bench said.
The Act provides for several measures to be taken by the appropriate government (in this case, the Maharashtra government) for rehabilitation of persons with disabilities, which would include acid attack victims as defined in the 2016 Act, it said.
One of the most important aspects of such rehabilitation measures is to provide free healthcare in the vicinity, including by providing priority in attendance and treatment, the court said.