The Delhi high court, in a first-of-its-kind order, on Friday directed the city government to provide employment to a 29-year-old acid attack victim on grounds of compassion.
The victim, Renu Sharma, was 19 years old when a tenant of her family house threw acid on her face in Delhi’s Shahdara area. Renu had asked the man to vacate his room.
The attack left her blind and made her dependent on constant medical treatment. Sharma’s attacker was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
About 10 years after the incident, which took place on February 15, 2006, Renu has gone through 15 surgeries, but received only Rs 3 lakh from the government as compensation, an amount which she says is “grossly inadequate”.
Her father’s income as a Group D employee at the Railways is insufficient to support the rising medical expenses and hence Renu decided to move court for compensation, said her advocate Kamlesh Kumar Mishra.
The Delhi Victims Compensation Scheme, 2015, mandates an immediate help of Rs 3 lakh to acid attack victims, when such matters are brought to the notice of Delhi State Legal Service Authority (DSLSA). It put an upper limit of Rs 7 lakh for such help. DSLSA also provides free legal assistance for underprivileged citizens.
Justice Manmohan said ceiling of expenditure of Rs 7 lakh on medical treatment may be “arbitrary and unreasonable” as it might not be sufficient in some cases.
“The respondents (government) cannot take the stand that they would not spend more than the ceiling amount,” the judge said adding the “State owes a duty to provide free medical treatment to acid attack victims”.
Justice Manmohan also clarified that the job given to Renu will be based on her educational qualification and medical status.
Noting that Renu will require medical treatment on a regular basis, Justice Manmohan directed Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital to provide free treatment to her, the cost of which will be borne by the city government.
The court also directed the government to reimburse her medical bills borne till date, after they are scrutinized by a officer.