23 Dec 2022 3:46 AM GMT
The Uttarakhand High Court recently directed the State Government to pay a compensation amount of ₹35 Lakh to an acid attack survivor. Justice Sanjaya Kumar Mishra said a sum of Rs. 35 Lakh would be just, proper and adequate compensation to the petitioner in addition to the amount already paid to her. The court also said she should be given some vocational training if she is willing...
The Uttarakhand High Court recently directed the State Government to pay a compensation amount of ₹35 Lakh to an acid attack survivor.
Justice Sanjaya Kumar Mishra said a sum of Rs. 35 Lakh would be just, proper and adequate compensation to the petitioner in addition to the amount already paid to her. The court also said she should be given some vocational training if she is willing to undertake.
"In addition to the aforesaid amount of compensation and vocational training, the State Government shall also provide free medical treatment to the petitioner, as it is also brought to our notice that petitioner has to undergo further surgeries, which require skin grafting. In case, hospitals situated and operating in the State of Uttarakhand, do not have proper technology, equipments or doctors to carry out the surgeries that is require to be meted out to her, then the State of Uttarakhand shall be under an obligation to get her treated in any hospital at New Delhi or in PGI, Chandigarh"
The court said entire expenses of the petitioner for operation, travelling and stay shall be borne by Uttarakhand government.
"Travelling and stay expenses of an attendant of petitioner shall also be borne by the State. The Member Secretary, UKSLSA [Uttarakhand State Legal Service Authority] is directed to release and transfer a sum of Rs. 35 Lakh in her name through RTGS/NEFT after expiry of the limitation for filling the intra court appeal," it added.
The court passed the directions on the petition filed by a woman, who was attacked with acid in 2014. She suffered 60% burn injuries on her upper body and knee and she also lost her right ear due to the attack. The accused was later convicted.
The petitioner was represented by Advocate Snigdha Tiwari in the plea filed in 2019.
The victim was paid a compensation of Rs 1,60,000 in compliance of order passed by Criminal Injury Compensation Board under the Uttarakhand Victim from Crime Assistance Scheme, 2013. In September 2019, an additional compensation of Rs. 1,50,000 was granted to her on orders of the court..
The State submitted that since the petitioner was already paid the compensation by the DLSA, she could have appealed the same before Uttarakhand State Legal Service Authority. Contending that the petition was not maintainable in view of availability of "efficacious alternative remedy" to her, the State argued that she should be given compensation under the old scheme and not the new scheme which was implemented in 2018, since the attack dated back to 2014.
Justice Mishra, however, rejected the arguments of the State.
Relying on the Supreme Court decision in Whirlpool Corporation v. Registrar of Trade Marks, (1998) 8 SCC 1, the Court said:
"The powers of High Court for issuing writs under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is very wide. The Hon'ble Supreme Court in the aforesaid case has held that a writ petition is maintainable without relegating the poor litigant to avail alternative efficacious remedies. Even if, efficacious alternative remedy is available, if there is breach of fundamental right; or if there is violation of principle of natural justice and if order or proceedings are wholly without jurisdiction or the vires of an Act is challenged, the High Court has power to entertain the writ petition."
On the question of applicability of the new scheme, the Court said that although the incident took place on 29.11.2014 much before 2018, the process of determination of compensation still continues and the effects of acid are still alive as the victim had to undergo so many reconstructive surgeries of face, reconstruction of right ear and other medical procedures and treatment.
"In this case, the Court takes into consideration that there is a breach of fundamental right of the victim petitioner, who is acid attack survivor. The right to live life with dignity has been breached in this case," said the court.
Case Title: Gulnaaz Khan v. State of Uttarakhand and Others
Citation: Writ Petition (MS) No. 26 of 2019
Coram: Justice Sanjaya Kumar Mishra
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Utt) 47
Click Here To Read/Download the Order