Did Masina hospital violate Supreme Court order to provide free treatment to acid attack victims?

Nov 29, 2017, 14:24 IST | Samiullah Khan

By collecting funds for Zakira Shaikh's treatment, hospital went against 2014 SC ruling that guarantees free treatment for acid attack survivors

The Masina hospital is now in the dock for violating an important Supreme Court order in the case of Zakira Shaikh: that of ensuring free treatment for acid attack survivors. Despite the court's clear-cut 2015 ruling, the hospital not only collected a deposit from Shaikh's family, but also raised funds for her treatment with a crowdfunding website.

Masina Hospital
Masina Hospital

On April 16, 2015, SC had made it mandatory for all private hospitals to treat acid attack survivors for free. If the private hospitals are reluctant to do so, the state government should intervene and ensure that the apex court's order is followed.

Lots of pennies
The apex court had even asked the state governments to declare a compensation of R3 lakh for the survivors. Unfortunately, many of them, like Shaikh, remain unaware of the existence of the SC's guidelines and the compensation.

In Shaikh's case, Masina hospital claimed it hadn't asked for a single penny from her family since the time she was admitted in their hospital. However, her family has deposited R40,000 with the hospital, in addition to involving an NGO seeking crowdfunding for Shaikh's treatment, sans consent of her family.

Try to refund money
Vinayak Kulkarni, manager (administration) of Masina hospital, said, "Since the time she has been here, Zakira's family has deposited Rs 40,000 with the hospital. They informed us their financial condition is unstable and they would not be able to afford the medical expenses. We have not demanded a single penny from them since that time."

According to Kulkarni, the family was then referred to the social welfare department of the hospital to raise funds. Upon being asked why this was being done despite SC's order, Kulkarni had no answer. But he later said the hospital would check all the possibilities in the matter and try to refund the money in Shaikh's account.

Certainly contempt of court
Dr. Ashok Gupta, plastic surgeon at Tata Memorial hospital, said, "The private hospitals treating acid attack survivors must claim the money from the government. This money can also be recovered from the culprit. If the hospitals are not following the SC ruling, citing their policy issues, then it is certainly contempt of the court."

Dr. Gupta said that Mumbai has state and civic-run hospitals with good surgery departments. Acid attack survivors must be referred to these hospitals for quality and free treatment and not in private hospitals where they are exploited.

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Rs 40k
Money deposited by Zakira's family at the hospital

Rs 3 lakh
State govt compensation for acid attack survivors

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