Acid attack victims should have same rights as disabled people, Indian Supreme Court rules

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 14 December 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6787
  1. Sanjeet Bagcchi
  1. 1Kolkata

India’s Supreme Court has ordered the country’s central and state governments to include victims of acid attacks in disability benefits so that they can access various welfare schemes, including access to government jobs.

On 7 December a bench consisting of the Supreme Court’s justices M Y Eqbal and C Nagappan announced their ruling on a petition that described the trauma of two girls in Bihar who were victims of acid attacks in 2012. The petition was filed by a Bihar based non-governmental organisation, Parivartan Kendra. The bench urged “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.”

The court ordered the government to pay compensation of Rs1m (£9800; €13 500; $15 000) to the elder sister, Chanchal, and Rs300 000 to the younger sister, Sonam.1

The judges said that the compensation paid to victims of acid attacks needed to increase because of the effect of such attacks on their social, economic, and personal life. They added, “The enhancement of the compensation will act in two ways: 1) it will help the victim in rehabilitation; 2) it will also make the State implement the guidelines properly as the State will try to comply with it in its true spirit so that the crime of acid attack can be prevented in future.”

The Right of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2014 says that “persons with at least 40% of a disability are entitled to certain benefits such as reservations in education and employment, preference in government schemes, etc.” The bill also confers “several rights and entitlements to disabled persons,” including “disabled friendly access to all public buildings, hospitals, modes of transport, polling stations, etc.”2

In April the Supreme Court pointed out that in 2014 there were 309 cases of acid attack in India. Most cases were reported from three states—Uttar Pradesh (185), Madhya Pradesh (53), and Gujarat (11)—while 27 cases were reported in Delhi.3


Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6787


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