Petition in Calcutta HC seeks compensation for acid attack survivors, points out defects in West Bengal Victim Compensation Scheme


Jhuma Santra Vs State of West Bengal and others, W.P. 26192/2015;Sanchayita Jadav Vs State of West Bengal and others, W.P. 15181/2016; Janmenjoy Khan Vs State of West Bengal and others, W.P. 15179/2016; Kakoli Das Vs State of West Bengal and others, W.P. 15184/2016, at the High Court at Calcutta The petitioners, Jhuma, Sanchayita, Janmenjoy and Kakoli are acid attack survivors. They had written to the Chief Secretary of West Bengal, seeking an interim sum of Rs 3 lakhs each towards compensation after the attack, but received no response from the office. Finding no other alternative, they were forced to file writ petitions before the Calcutta High Court. In the petitions, the petitioners additionally prayed for other reliefs, including the grant of disability certificates and reimbursement of medical expenses. They subsequently received interim compensation to the tune of Rs 3 lakhs. Pursuant to a direction passed by the Court, a medical board was formed to examine them and to determine the extent and percentage of their disability as a result of the acid attacks. However, till date, the disability certificates have not been issued. Additionally, the Petitioners submitted original medical bills relating to their medical treatments to the office of Special Secretary (Home), Government of West Bengal, Nabanna for reimbursement, but their dues have not been paid till date. When the petitions were taken up for hearing in the High Court, the State brought the ‘West Bengal Victim Compensation Scheme’ of 2017 to the attention of the Court, and the Advocate General stated before the Court that a bill has been presented before the State legislature very recently, containing provisions for immediate treatment of acid attack victims. The lawyers for the Petitioners pointed out that the above-mentioned compensation scheme suffers from some crucial defects. It lays down certain criteria for a person to become eligible for the compensation, completely ignoring the view of the Supreme Court in Laxmi versus Union of India, which is a landmark case on compensation for acid attack survivors. The Court, appreciating the same, asked the State for the reasons for having such eligibility criteria, and the matter is pending for further hearing on the same. HRLN Kolkata continues to actively represent the Petitioners. Status (In court): Pending for further hearing.