Campaign Against Acid Attack
Acid Attack is an attack or attempt to attack a person with the intention to disfigure, torture, or kill, using acid or any other kind of corrosive substance. Such an attack results in permanent physical disfigurement, damage to internal organs, as well as death in some cases. For victims who survive this attack, there is a constant battle of survival for the rest of their life coupled with complete disability and crippling depression. HRLN, through its initiative, aims to provide medical and legal aid, and rehabilitation to such survivors. India records at least 300-500 cases each year. There were no separate statistics for acid violence cases in India until the early 2013 as Indian criminal Law did not recognize it as a separate offence. With the amendment in Indian Penal Code in 2013, incidents of acid attacks are now being recorded as a separate offence under section 326A and 326B.
Despite the aforesaid, there has been a steep rise in the number of cases. While there is a Supreme Court guideline in Laxmi v Union of India (2013) regarding the regulation of sale and procurement of acid, acid is still readily available over-the-counter.
HRLN’s Campaign Against Acid Attack (CaAA) initiative is part of its larger Women’s Justice Initiative (WJI) that seeks to make use of existing laws to oppose all forms of violence against women and gender-based discrimination.
Slideshow - PIL's and Cases
What HRLN Does
The initiative’s focus has been on women, although men are also survivors of acid attacks. Justice for acid attack survivors has evolved through the years with the judiciary taking the lead in setting the tone for compensation and rehabilitation of the survivors.
Primarily, HRLN aims to cover all needs and requirements of a survivor, post the acid attack, and their subsequent rehabilitation. Priority medical treatment without negligence is the very first step. Right from raising awareness about immediate medical assistance through posters, training sessions and brochures, to psychological counselling services for the victim and their family, and providing legal aid for compensation and following up the trial procedure, it stands by the victim throughout the process. Its advocates send representation letters to the state governments and concerned authorities on behalf of the victims and/or file writ petitions relying on the Supreme Court judgement in Laxmi v Union of India for interim compensation as well as for the enhancement of such compensation and rehabilitation relying on the Supreme Court judgment in Parivartan Kendra v Union of India (2015).
In case of discontinuation of education of any survivor, our initiative assists the survivor through proper networking channels and government to continue the same. HRLN holds regular meetings with doctors and government organizations such as the Women’s Commissions, State Legal Services Authorities and Departments of Women and Child Development to apprise them about the various cases and related data collected by us.
It also connects with organizations that help in providing vocational training to the survivors and help with their rehabilitation. HRLN also publishes books and reports to document attacks, provide information on the issue, and gather support for the survivors.
- Compensation for survivors
- Rehabilitation of survivors
- Private hospitals’ refusal to treat acid attack patients
- Sale of acid
- Granting of bail of accused
- Sensitisation of police/administration
- Changes in law
- Violence against women/safety of women in public spaces
After the gruesome acid attack on Uzma and her family of six, including a 6-month-old infant, private and government hospitals in Delhi denied free medical treatment to the victims. For the first time in India, after the passing of the judgement in Parivartan Kendra V Union of India, with the help of the media and police, HRLN implemented the guidelines in the judgement to provide free medical treatment to Uzma and her family for three months in the best private hospital in the state. A representation was also simultaneously sent to the UP government and a compensation of approximately Rs 22 Lakhs was received within two months. Subsequently, a PIL was filed saying that the compensation received was not enough and an interim order was passed directing 25 beds to be kept reserved in King George Medical College, Lucknow, for acid attack victims.
In Parivartan Kendra v UOI (2015) Supreme Court, the collective effort of the team ensured in obtaining a compensation of Rs 10 lakhs for one of its petitioners, Chanchal, who was the primary victim. This was the first time an acid attack survivor received an enhanced compensation and the cap of Rs 3 lakhs was removed and directed to be considered as the minimum amount of compensation. The Order also directed acid attack victims to be included under the disability category. There was a reiteration of the guidelines regarding procurement and sale of acid, and a provision of free medical treatment in government hospitals for acid attack survivors.
In Anju v State of Haryana, a judgement passed by Chandigarh High Court in 2016 resulted in a complete reimbursement of medical treatment. She also received enhanced compensation of Rs 6 lakh, a pension of Rs 8,000 per month, and allotment of a fair price shop.
In another survivor Yashoda’s case in January 2017, petition filed in February 2017, the Indore High Court gave a direction to DLSA to facilitate all treatment of the victim within an hour of the hearing. In Renu v State of Delhi (NCT), for the first time, the High Court directed that a survivor should get government employment. In the case of Ramandeep, the State agreed to amend the Punjab Victim Compensation Scheme to improve it on the lines of the scheme of Relief and Rehabilitation for Acid Attack Women implemented in the State of Haryana. Due to HRLN’s continuous efforts, the Delhi government has brought out permanent government jobs and employment of various survivors in the government sector. It is now slightly easier for victims to get medical treatment and the struggle to fight for compensation is lesser. Even the access to treatment in private hospitals is becoming easier.
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Slideshow - Read.