New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday ruled that no private hospital will turn back or refuse medical treatment to acid attack victims as it would be open to the state governments concerned to take action against such hospitals.
The social justice bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit issued the warning as they noted some private hospitals were reluctant to attend to acid attack victims and provide them treatment.
It held that treatment of acid attack victim would not only involve their hospitalisation and critical treatment but also free medicines as well as multiple reconstructive surgeries, bed and food.
The court said that a committee would be set up in every district by the district judge that would comprise the district magistrate, superintendent of police and the chief medical officer or his representatives to look into instances of refusal of treatment by a private hospital.
The court order came as the central government informed it that first aid as mentioned under section 357C of the Code of Criminal Procedure includes the complete treatment of the acid attack victim free of cost.
The section says that all hospitals, public or private, whether run by the central or state government, local bodies or any other person, "shall immediately, provide first-aid or medical treatment, free of cost, to the victims of any offence covered under section 326A, 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D or section 376E of the Indian Penal Code, and shall immediately inform the police of such incident".
The government spelt out its stand that emerged from the meeting of state and union territories' chief secretaries and health secretaries jointly convened by the union home and health secretaries on March 14, 2015 as was directed by the social justice bench on February 6, 2015.
Asking the state governments to widely disseminate the information, the court also asked them not to shut their doors on the acid attack victims.
The court further said that the first hospital where the acid attack victim would go for treatment would issue a certificate that the victim could utilise to avail treatment under the scheme.
Noting that not all the states have notified the payment of mandatory Rs.3 lakh compensation to acid attack victims, the court said that the home ministry and the National Legal Services Authority would take up the matter with non-compliant states so that minimum compensation is made available to all victims.
The court also observed that very few states have issued notification banning sale of acid across the counter and gave three months' time to the union home and health and family welfare ministers to ensure this is done in three months.