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SCOI Report: In acid attacks PIL argued by Gonsalves, 4 states invite contempt for failure to submit affidavits

Acid attack rehabilitation not being taken seriously by states, argues Gonsalves
Acid attack rehabilitation not being taken seriously by states, argues Gonsalves

A Supreme Court bench comprising of justices MY Eqbal and C Nagappan on Wednesday (9 September) turned its ire in court No 10 on four states for not filing their counter affidavits in the case of Parivartan Kendra vs Union of India dealing with the PIL seeking rehabilitation scheme for acid attack survivors.

The states are Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, and Mizoram. The case was the first item at 10:30 am, and was passed over, to be reheard again during the course of the day later.argues Gonsalves

Even as the senior counsel for the petitioner, Colin Gonsalves told the bench that Jammu and Kashmir too did not file the counter-affidavit, its counsel, Ashok Mathur submitted that he would file the counter during the course of the day.

The bench rejected the joint prayer made by the counsel for Karnataka, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh for adjournment on the ground that they did not receive vakalatnamas on behalf of their respective states. Mizoram went unrepresented.

The bench concluded that the four states did not take the issues involved in the matter seriously and there appeared to be a deliberate and wilful non-compliance of order passed by the court during the previous hearing on August 18.

The court had made clear in its order on that day that the chief secretaries of the defaulting states and the Union Territories should appear in person on September 9.

The non-appearance of the four chief secretaries, as directed on August 18, therefore, led the bench to issue notices to them as to why contempt proceedings be not initiated against them for non-compliance of the court’s order dated 18th August, 2015. They have been asked to appear in person before the Supreme Court on 23 September.

Madhya Pradesh, one of the defaulting states, had 53 reported cases of acid attacks in 2014.

In the rejoinder, the petitioner pointed out that the broad claims and assurances in the counter-affidavits submitted by many states do not match the realities faced by most acid attack survivors, and that the states have failed to provide any evidence of their claims.

The order of the Supreme Court in the Laxmi case provides for the minimum amount of Rs 3 lakhs to be given to the victim within two months from the date of the incident.

The rejoinder pointed out that the states of NCT of Delhi, UT of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and UT of Daman & Diu contravened this direction.

The rejoinder also exposed further violations of the Laxmi order of the court by various States.

According to provisional data released by NCRB, there were 310 acid attack incidents in 2014, which was unprecedented, and almost four times the average number of such cases in the preceding years.

The highest number of such incidents were reported from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, NCT of Delhi and Gujarat.

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