Private hospitals were not only to give first-aid to acid attack victims and but were also bound to provide free-of-cost treatment, the Centre told the Supreme Court Thursday.
Facilities flouting the law could invite penal action, the ministry of home said in an affidavit to the top court which through a series of orders has cracked down on one of the most horrific form of violence against women.
“No hospital or clinic should refuse treatment citing lack of specialised facilities… Action may be taken against the hospital or clinic for refusal to treat victims of acid attacks and other crimes in contravention to the provisions of Section 357C of the criminal procedure code,” the ministry told the court.
The affidavit was prepared after the Centre, states and union territories held a meeting on March 14 after the court asked the government to implement the law on medical treatment and draw up a compensation plan for the victims.
Though they are widespread, it was only in 2013 that acid attacks were categorised as a separate crime. In the aftermath of the December 16 gang rape, the government amended the Indian Penal Code, making acid attack an offence punishable with 10 years in jail.
In the meeting, states told the Union government that not only government hospitals but also private were told to provide free treatment to the victims.
However, the general opinion was that the private hospitals had interpreted the law to mean that their responsibility was limited to stabilising the victim. The states would convey to private hospitals that they were to provide treatment as well, the affidavit said.
The case will be heard on Friday.