Monday, 13 April 2015

ACID Burn Rape Victims Must Get Free Treatment

Victims must get full treatment: SC


In an order likely to have far-reaching effects, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday that private hospitals could neither “turn away” victims of acid attack nor wash their hands of after providing first aid.

The court made it mandatory for these hospitals across the country to provide full and free medical treatment to the victims. The order said the term “treatment” included reconstructive surgery, free medicines, bed, rehabilitation and aftercare.

The order came on a public interest litigation petition filed by Laxmi, an acid attack victim, following nine years of fighting for the rights of victims.

Ms. Laxmi was only 15 when three men, one of whom she had refused to marry, threw acid on her near Tughlaq Road in New Delhi. She has been fighting a lonely battle since 2006 in the Supreme Court, and in the process, succeeded in getting the Indian Penal Code amended to make acid attack a special offence. She further persuaded the court to increase the compensation for victims to Rs. 3 lakh, besides procuring a complete ban on over-the-counter sale of acid.

Friday’s order dealt with Ms. Laxmi’s final demand for getting victims proper treatment, aftercare and rehabilitation.

In its order, the Social Justice Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and U.U. Lalit directed that “all States should take up with private hospitals and ensure that they do not deny treatment to acid attack victims. We see there is a reluctance on the part of some private hospitals to provide free treatment.”

The court clarified that “free treatment would mean not only free medical treatment but also availability of medicines, food and reconstructive surgery.”

The court directed the State governments to take action against the hospitals turning away victims.

The Bench was interpreting Section 357C of the Criminal Procedure Code, inserted in Feb. 2013, to deal with the issue of cost of treatment of acid-attack victims.

IMA News Editors Comments
The above Supreme Court Judgment has large implications not only in acid burn cases but also victors of child sexual abuse and rape. Let us revise various provisions of law.

•             CrPC     Chapter XXVII: S. 357 C [Code of Criminal Procedure]: Treatment of victims [1]
Description: " All hospitals, public or private, whether run by the Central Government, the State Government, local bodies or any other person, shall immediately, provide the first-aid or medical treatment, free of cost, to the victims of any offence covered under section 326A, 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D or section 376E of the Indian Penal Code, and shall immediately inform the police of such incident."

•             2. '326A. Whoever causes permanent or partial damage or deformity to, or burns or maims or disfigures or disables, any part or parts of the body of a person or causes grievous hurt by throwing acid on or by administering acid to that person, or by using any other means with the intention of causing or with the knowledge that he is likely to cause such injury or hurt, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and with fine:  Provided that such fine shall be just and reasonable to meet the medical expenses of the treatment of the victim: Provided further that any fine imposed under this section shall be paid to the victim.

•             376. (1) Whoever, except in the cases provided for in sub-section (2), commits rape, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

(2) Whoever,—

being a police officer, commits rape— (i) within the limits of the police station to which such police officer is appointed; or (ii) in the premises of any station house; or (iii) on a woman in such police officer's custody or in the custody of a police officer subordinate to such police officer; or

(b) being a public servant, commits rape on a woman in such public servant's custody or in the custody of a public servant subordinate to such public servant; or

(c) being a member of the armed forces deployed in an area by the Central or a State Government commits rape in such area; or

(d) being on the management or on the staff of a jail, remand home or other place of custody established by or under any law for the time being in force or of a women's or children's institution, commits rape on any inmate of such jail, remand home, place or institution; or

(e) being on the management or on the staff of a hospital, commits rape on a woman in that hospital;
•             Refusal to provide medico legal examination and treatment is punishable by imprisonment for up to 1 year as per section 166B IPC.

Section 166B of  Indian Penal Code (IPC) 1860: " Whoever, being in charge of a hospital, public or private, whether run by the Central Government, the State Government, local bodies or any other person, contravenes  the provisions of section 357C of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or with both]"

•             This examination can be performed by any registered medical practitioner (Section 164                 (A) CrPC).

•             Section 53 a of CRPC:      b)"registered medical practitioner" means a medical practitioner who possesses any medical qualification as defined in clause (h) of section 2 of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and whose name has been entered in a State Medical Register.

•             Section-164 A of Cr.P.C.- Medical examination of the victim of rape.
                164 A. Medical examination of the victim of rape. – (1) Where, during the stage when an offence             of committing rape or attempt to commit rape is under      investigation, it is proposed to get the   person of the woman with whom rape is alleged or attempted to have been committed or                attempted, examined by a medical expert, such examination shall be conducted by a      registered medical practitioner employed in a hospital run by the Government or a local       authority and in the absence of a such a practitioner, by any other registered medical    practitioner, with the consent of such woman or of a person competent to give such consent on          her behalf and such woman shall be sent to such registered medical practitioner within twenty-        four hours from the time of receiving the information relating to the  commission of such               offence.
                (2) The registered medical practitioner, to whom such woman is sent shall, without delay,           examine her and prepare a report of his examination giving the following particulars, namely:-
                (I) the name and address of the woman and of the person by whom she was brought;
                (II) the age of the woman;
                (III) the description of material taken from the person of the woman for DNA profiling;
                (IV) marks of injury, if any, on the person of the woman;
                (V) general mental condition of the woman; and
                (VI) other material particulars in reasonable detail.
                (3)  The report shall state precisely the reasons for each conclusion arrived at.
                (4) The report shall specifically record that the consent of the woman or of the person competent to give such consent on her behalf to such examination had been obtained.
                (5) The exact time of commencement and completion of the examination shall also be noted in                the report.
                (6) The registered medical practitioner shall, without delay forward the report to the     investigation officer who shall forward it to the Magistrate referred to in section 173 as part of      the documents referred to in clause (a) of sub-section (5) of that section.
                (7) Nothing in this section shall be construed as rendering lawful any examination without the   consent of the woman or of any person competent to give such              consent on her behalf.
                Explanation. – For the purposes of this section, “examination” and “registered medical                 practitioner” shall have the same meanings as in section 53’

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