Calcutta High Court: West Bengal Lagging in Progress and Governance, Forgets Feminist Roots


The Calcutta High Court has criticized the state of West Bengal for its outdated compensation scheme for acid attack victims, stating that the state has forgotten its "progressive feminist roots." Justice Shekhar Saraf, in a recent judgment, invoked the words of freedom fighter Gopal Krishna Gokhale, who once said, "What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow."

Justice Saraf expressed disappointment that West Bengal, which was known for its progressive feminist discourse in the past, has failed to uphold these values in modern times. He urged the state government to take note of Bengal's rich feminist history and align its policies accordingly.

The court's remarks came during the hearing of an application filed by a minor acid attack victim seeking compensation under the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) Compensation Scheme for Women Victims/Survivors of Sexual Assault/other Crimes, 2018. The scheme mandates compensation ranging from ₹7 lakh to ₹8 lakh for acid attack victims, with additional provisions for minors.

While the Supreme Court had directed all states to adhere to the best practices outlined in NALSA's Compensation Scheme in 2018, the Calcutta High Court found that West Bengal had not complied with this directive. As a result, the court ordered the state government to frame a new compensation scheme in line with NALSA's guidelines within eight weeks. The court also directed the state to pay ₹7 lakh in compensation to the petitioner victim, along with an additional ₹3.50 lakh as mandated by the NALSA scheme.

Author: Anushka Taraniya

News Writer, MIT ADT University