The Supreme Court on Monday directed the state governments and union territories administrations to include the names of the acid attack victims in the list of disabled people.
"We additionally direct all the states and union territories to consider the plight of such victims and take appropriate steps with regard to inclusion of their names under the disability list," said a bench of Justice M.Y.Eqbal and Justice C. Nagappan in their judgment.
The direction came as it said that the Rs.3 lakh compensation to the acid attack victims by the state governments as ordered by it 2013 was the minimum amount as actual compensation would vary from case to case depending on the nature and severity of the injury.
"The guidelines issued by (July 18, 2013) orders (of apex court) in the (victim) Laxmi's case are proper, except with respect to the compensation amount," it said.
"Keeping in view the impact of acid attack on the victim on his social, economical and personal life, we need to enhance the amount of compensation. We cannot be oblivious of the fact that the victim of acid attack requires permanent treatment for the damaged skin," said Justice Eqbal speaking for the bench.
The court said this while directing the Bihar government to give enhanced compensation amount to Rs.10 lakh and Rs.3 lakh respectively to two Dalit sisters who suffered an acid attack for rejecting sexual advances by the local boys.
The sisters were attacked around midnight of October 21, 2012 by four assailants who threw acid on their face and bodies while they were sleeping on their house's rooftop.
Noting that the amount of Rs.3 lakh would be of no help to the acid attack victim, the judgment said: "We are conscious of the fact that enhancement of the compensation amount will be an additional burden on the state. But prevention of such a crime is the responsibility of the state and the liability to pay the enhanced compensation will be of the state."
It said that the enhanced compensation would help in the victim's rehabilitation and make the state government implement the apex court guidelines in true spirit so that crime of acid attack could be prevented in the future.
Pointing out that Rs.3 lakh compensation was minimum, the court said: "The state has the discretion to provide more compensation to the victim in the case of acid attack as per Laxmi's case guidelines. It is also to be noticed that this court has not put any condition in Laxmi's case as to the degree of injuries which a victim has suffered due to acid attack."
Noting that despite the direction of the court, only 17 states and seven union territories have notified the Victim Compensation Scheme, the court said that out of this, seven states and four union territories have not initiated it.
Even in those states where the scheme has been implemented, a meagre compensation ranging between Rs.25,000 to Rs.2 lakh is provided for medical care, while many states have not provided any compensation for rehabilitation at all.
In the present case, the court said that of the total compensation amount of Rs. 13 lakh, a sum of Rs.5 lakh shall be paid within a period of one month and the remaining sum of Rs.8 lakh shall be paid within a period of three months from the date of its order.