Proposing a unique measure to combat cases of acid attacks, Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhary on Thursday said culprits should be made to pay for the entire cost of treatment and maintenance of the victim throughout their lives.
"When an acid attack is carried out on a woman for whatever reason, she is scarred and debarred from society for life," Chowdhary said at a seminar to deliberate on the Dowry Act.
"In such cases, the culprit should be made to pay for the entire treatment and if he does not have any property or assets, he should be made to pay his entire life's earnings to that woman," she said.
The medical treatment is a costly affair and very often the victim is left to fend for herself, with nobody to provide support, the minister said, adding at present there is no provision for providing compensation to them.
The ministry along with the National Commission for Women (NCW) has prepared a "Draft Bill for the Victims of Acid Attacks" titled "Prevention of offences (By Acids) Act 2008".
Acid attacks under this law could be termed as an act of gender-based violence that results in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering to women.
The proposed law aims to classify the acid attack as a separate and most heinous form of offence under IPC, provide treatment to victims through plastic surgery and promote physical and psychological rehabilitation of the acid attack victims.
The Central Government would constitute a National Acid Attack Victim Assistance Board for the implementation of the Act.
The Board will provide assistance to the victim through a monitoring authority or through any service provider.
The emerging conclusion from the seminar, which also deliberated on the misuse of the Dowry Act, 498 (A), was that though in some cases the Act was misused, it was not necessary to amend it.
"We just need to send a strong advisory to the states that the act is not misused and police do not take advantage of it to harass people," she added.
NCW Chairperson, Girija Vyas, said, the Commission has received a large number of complaints pertaining to dowry harassment and deaths.
One of the proposals to restrict the misuse of the Act was that registration of marriages be made compulsory during which both the bride and the groom have to declare their assets and incomes along with their parents.
Vyas said in certain cases of domestic violence also, the Dowry Act was being implemented which was not correct.