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3 Mar 2017

Poser on compensation - HC asks govt if it will raise ex-gratia for acid victims

TT, Calcutta, March 2: Calcutta High Court today 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 following a recent ruling of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court had on December 7, 2015 said in a case (between Paribartan Kendra Vs Union of India) that the state governments would have to pay a minimum compensation of Rs 3 lakh to the acid attack victims and the amount may extend up to Rs 13 lakh.
In that particular case, the Supreme Court had directed the state concerned to pay Rs 13 lakh to an acid victim, Chanchal of Bihar.
The apex court division bench of Justice M. Y. Eqbal and Justice C. Nagappan, in its December 7, 2015, judgment said: "Therefore, this court deems it proper to award a tune of Rs 13 lakh to acid victim Chanchal and directing the Bihar government to pay a part of compensation, Rs 5 lakh, to the acid victim within one month of the order."
The Bihar government had paid Chanchal a compensation of Rs 25,000 and Paribatan Kendra, an NGO in the state, had moved a case in Supreme Court challenging the decision.
Justice Dipankar Dutta of the high court today expressed his desire that if the state government was not ready to follow the Supreme Court ruling, he would give liberty to the petitioners (10 acid victims from Bengal) to challenge the validity of the government notification in which the state had declared that Rs 3 lakh would be paid to the acid victims.
"Supreme Court, in its latest ruling, declared that minimum amount of compensation to the acid victims should be Rs 3 lakh. But, according to state government counsels, the Bengal government had issued a notification recently declaring that a compensation of Rs 3 lakh would be paid to acid victims. The counsel appearing for the petitioners have approached before this court seeking liberty to challenge the Bengal government's notification. So, I am asking the state counsels to take instruction whether the state is ready to enhance the compensation amount. Unless, I will have to give liberty to the petitioners' counsels to challenge the government notification," Justice Dutta said and fixed the matter for hearing on March 10.
The judge was hearing the petitions by 10 acid attack victims, most of whom had already received Rs 3 lakh as compensation from the government but were facing acute financial problem while incurring their medical expenses.
"The state government is not paying money for the treatment of acid victims. My client Manisha Pailan has received the money. After the attack, she lost her vision in one eye. To save the other eye, a surgery is needed and it requires nearly Rs 8 lakh more," said advocate Jayanta Narayan Chatterjee in the court.

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