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HC raps Maha over delay in awarding compensation to acid attack victims

The Maharashtra government should cut down red tape and procedural technicalities while awarding monetary compensation to rape and acid attack victims, the Bombay High Court said.

A division bench of Justices R M Borde and R G Ketkar was irked when it was informed that a girl, who was attacked with acid in 2012, has not been given compensation and her medical expenses have not been met with as mandated under the state government’s ‘Manodhairya’ scheme till date.

Under the ‘Manodhairya Yojana’, rape and acid attack victims are to be compensated up to Rs 10 lakh. Besides, their medical expenses are also to be borne by the government.

The scheme also provides for counselling and vocational training of the victims.

The bench was informed by government lawyer Neha Bhide that an amount of Rs four lakh was kept towards the petitioner victim’s medical expenses.

“However, the amount could not be disbursed as the victim failed to submit the hospital bills. She (victim) submitted the bills later. Now we are unable to trace the victim to record her statement,” Bhide said.

Irked with this, the court sought to know why the victim’s statement needs to be recorded when she has already submitted all the bills.

The court said the government should have sent the money directly to the hospital concerned.

The bench also noted that under the scheme, the victim is to get compensation over and above the medical expenses.

“Shouldn’t the government cut down the bureaucratic and procedural technicalities and help the victim? You (government) are so insensitive. In this particular case, the petitioner has already suffered physically…and now she is before this court for three years waiting for compensation,” Justice Borde said.

“In such matters, the high court and even the Supreme Court have in the past said the government should not get stuck in technicalities. You (government) are not doing any favour to the victims. How can you insist on formal technicalities?” the court said.

The court said the government showed the same attitude towards the families of farmers who commit suicide, as they have to wait for years to get a compensation of Rs one lakh.

The court added that if this was the attitude of the state government’s Women and Child Welfare department, it would pass orders directing that the compensation amount be recovered from the personal account of its principal secretary.

After being pulled up, Bhide said the department was ready to make the payment towards medical expenses within ten days after verification of the bills submitted by the victim.

The court accepted her statement and directed the government to also pay the petitioner a sum of Rs three lakh as compensation under the scheme within three weeks.

The bench posted the petition for further hearing after three weeks and asked the government to submit a compliance report.

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