There has been a lot of discussion in the past few days over a movie. This movie tells the story of an acid attack victim and her fight to justice. Not delving into the controversies around the film, it is imperative to focus on some relevant facts pertaining to the crime of acid attacks in India that may guide the discourse on this subject in the right direction beyond the movie.
- Acid attack victim Laxmi’s case – whose struggle the movie is said to be about- dates back to 2006 and is known in the legal community as Laxmi (minor) through her father vs. Union of India. The government of that day never bothered to act on the demands by the victim regarding definite compensation and restriction on sales of acid. It is only after the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2013 that the government was forced to act.
- Post-2014, the Modi government has worked substantially in addressing the demands of acid attack victims, especially on compensation and assuring their future.
Pre-2014: Govt Not Doing Enough
In its 2013 judgment on Laxmi’s petition, the Supreme Court announced its decision asked the Centre to frame stricter rules to prevent acid attacks, and lamented that the government is not doing enough to address the issue. This media report on that dateline makes the case clear.
- Modi government expanded the types of disabilities from 7 to 21 in 2017 by replacing PwD Act, 1995 and included acid attack victims under the disability category, so that they can be the rightful claimants of all the inclusive steps government offers for the community.
- The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities implements National Action Plan for Skill Development of Persons with Disabilities to enhance their scope of employability in both Government and private sectors.
- Under the Central Victim Compensation Fund Scheme, a minimum compensation of ₹3 lakh is prescribed. This is in addition to an additional special assistance of upto ₹5 lakhs for medical treatment to acid attack victims. A financial assistance of ₹200 Crores as one time grant has been released to all the States/UTs in 2016-17 to support their respective State Victim Compensation Scheme.
- ₹1 lakh in addition to the compensation under State Victim Compensation Scheme is also being provided under Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.
So, amidst controversies on the narration of the acid attack victim’s story in the movie, anyone who want a discourse on acid attack victims should know how the earlier system was numb to the suffering voices whereas the present government acted to make positive impact.