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11 Mar 2017

Bengal out with acid package - No cap on maximum compensation, govt to bear medical bills

TT. Calcutta, March 10: The Bengal government today informed Calcutta High Court that it would pay a minimum compensation of Rs 3 lakh to each acid attack victim and there would be no cap on the maximum amount.
State advocate-general Kishore Dutta told Justice Dipankar Dutta that the government would use a fund of Rs 12.5 crore for compensating the victims. The state received the money from the Centre, which has formed a Rs 200-crore corpus.
The advocate-general also said the government would bear the medical expenses of the victims in its hospitals.
Justice Dutta was hearing petitions by 10 acid attack victims, most of whom had already received Rs 3 lakh as compensation from the government but were reportedly facing acute financial crisis while incurring medical expenses.
"The maximum amount of compensation for each acid attack victim will be decided on the quantum of the injury. Besides, victims below the age of 14 years will get 15 per cent extra compensation," the advocate-general said.
Justice Dutta had on March 2 directed the state government to take a decision by March 10 on whether more than Rs 3 lakh would be paid as compensation to acid attack victims.
"The Supreme Court had on December 7, 2015, said in a case (Paribartan Kendra versus the Union of India) that state governments would have to pay a minimum compensation of Rs 3 lakh to acid attack victims and the amount may extend up to Rs 13 lakh," the judge had said.
The high court had passed this directive after the state counsel informed him that the government had issued a notification saying Rs 3 lakh would be given to each acid victim as compensation.
During the hearing today, the advocate-general told the court about the revised decision of the government and said it had also decided to provide free treatment to the victims in government hospitals.
Referring to the newly placed private hospital bill in the Assembly, the advocate-general said: "In the bill, private hospitals have been asked to begin the treatment of acid attack victims immediately and without demanding money. The cost would be reimbursed."
Justice Dutta then asked the state about its decision regarding issuing disability certificates to the victims.
The advocate-general replied: "The Centre had enacted a law on the issuance of disability certificates. The state government is formulating rules on the basis of that Act. Once the rules are prepared, disability certificates to the victims would be provided."
"Other issues like rehabilitation would be decided after discussions with the acid victims."
The high court then fixed the matter for hearing on April 7 and asked the advocate-general to convey the government's decisions to advocate Jayanta Narayan Chatterjee and other counsel appearing for the petitioners.

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