Srinagar: The J&K High Court has directed government to frame ‘victim compensation scheme’ (VCS) and implement the Supreme Court of India guidelines on sale of acid in the state within eight weeks.
“The State of Jammu and Kashmir shall take steps for making amendment in J&K Code of Criminal Procedure by inserting provision like Section 357A of the Central Code of Criminal Procedure in the State Code of Criminal procedure,” said a division bench of Justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Ali Mohammad Magrey while disposing of a Public Interest Litigation filed by Kashmir High Court Bar Association(KHCBA) in the aftermath of the gruesome acid attack on a 22-year-old law student here ilast December.
The lawyers’ body had sought directions for the amendment in the criminal procedure code as section 357A of the Cr.PC empowers trial courts to recommend the grant of compensation to victims of criminal offences.
It also requires government to frame a ‘victim compensation scheme’ in consultation with the Government of India and allocate separate funds for it.
Advocate Mian Qayoom, the president of the KHCBA, submitted that the provision was inserted in the Central Code of Criminal Procedure by Act 5 of 2009 and came into force with effect from 31 July 2009. “In the state, no such provision has been inserted hitherto,” he said, emphasizing that the Section provides for preparation of the scheme for creating funds for payment of compensation to the victim of acid attack or his dependents.
In another direction, the bench directed the state government to implement the apex court directions (in case titled Laxmi versus Union of India and others), banning over-the-counter sale of acid without following a set of procedures including maintenance of log register by sellers, recording name of the buyer with address and purpose for its use.
“The State of Jammu and Kashmir is duty bound in view of the mandate contained in Article 141 of the Constitution of India to implement the directions of the Supreme Court,” the bench said, underlining that all the authorities—Civil and Judicial— have to act in aid of the apex court.
The KHCBA had sought direction to the state’s Chief Secretary to get the apex court guidelines translated in the vernacular and publicizing it for the information of the public at large.
“All the district magistrates (be directed) to follow the guidelines in the letter and spirit and ensure that no acid is sold to any person in violation of the guideline,” the lawyers’ body had said.
In another direction, the court also closed the PIL to the extent of payment of amount on the treatment of the victim of acid attack at Nowsehera in the outskirts of Srinagar on 11 December 2014.
However, it gave liberty to the petitioners to approach the Court in case SKIMS authorities certify that the further treatment would not be available in the Institute.
The direction followed submissions by Additional Advocate General Shahwar Gowhar, that treatment which would now be required by victim can be provided to her at SKIMS Soura Srinagar.
Gowhar’s statement followed submissions by the KHCBA that the victim requires third round of treatment at Apollo Hospital, Chennai.
Gowhar also submitted before the court a cheque for an amount of Rs 4, 17,157, the payment made by the victim’s father to the hospital authorities in Chennai. The bench directed registrar judicial to disburse the amount in favour of the victim’s father after proper identification.
With the amount, the state informed the court that Rs 15 lakh have been paid to the victim for her treatment.
The court also disposed of a similar PIL filed by one Farah Shah of Nishat through counsel advocate Faisal Qadri.
It was in this PIL that the court had passed directions to bar authorities as well as print and electronic media from disclosing the name of the Nowshera acid victim.
The petitioner had also stated that there was no government scheme for rehabilitation, free medical care and compensation of acid attack victims in the state.
“The state does not have a standard treatment or management guidelines for medical treatment of acid attacks. This causes confusion in the medical professionals and unnecessary delay even in the first-aid to be given, due to which the damage, trauma increases.”
The acid burns, the PIL said, are treated in line with the general fire burns which have adverse effects.
“For example, in the fire burns, the drying of the skin is waited for to stop dehydration and loss of fluids but in acid burns, the entire acid should be cleared, affected tissues scooped out etc,” the petitioner had said and sought directions to have standard treatment and management guidelines (STM) developed by a panel of experts including specialists in forensic medicine and toxicology, plastic surgery, general medicine and psychiatry.