ACID ATTACK : THE HEARTLESS CRIME
There was a time when people use acid for household purposes but now hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid is used to make the life miserable of the people especially girls. The acid attack is the most vicious form of the crime of the society which is taking increasing its pace in different parts of the country. The effects of the acid attack need not be pointed out. Since the attack is mostly been done on the face and the layer of the fat underneath the skin of the face is the thinnest, therefore the long term consequences of the acid attack may include blindness, damaged skin tissues and sometimes dissolving the bones. Apart from the physical disfigurement the social, moral and psychological life also gets affected.
It’s important to know the legal effects of an acid attack. The section 326 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 was amended by Criminal Amendment Act, 2013 and section 326A and 326B were added in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and section 114B was added in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
The scope of section 326 was very narrow and it did not take within its ambit the recognition of the act of acid attack and therefore the Eighteenth Law Commission of India which was headed by Justice A. R. Lakshmanan proposed to add the following sections.
As per Indian Penal Code, 1860, “Acid” includes any substance which has an acidic or corrosive character or burning nature that is capable of causing bodily injury leading to scars or disfigurement or temporary or permanent disability. It also states the punishment of throwing acid which is imprisonment for 10 years which may extend up to lifetime imprisonment with fine.
The Code prescribes punishment for those who even attempt to bring into action such a heinous crime. Section 326B state that the act of attempting to throw acid is a punishable offence under the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The punishment is imprisonment for 5 years which may even extend to 7 years imprisonment and with fine.
In State of Himachal Pradesh vs. Vijay Pappu alias Pappu and Another, the Supreme Court while pronouncing the judgment says that victim must have suffered emotional distress which cannot be compensated either by sentencing the accused or by the grant of any compensation. In the following case, the victim, a 19-year-old girl was attacked on her way to college in 2004 by two men who came on a two-wheeler and threw acid on her. She suffered 16% burns. In March 2018, the State High Court passes judgment and ordered the two men to pay Rs. 1.5 lakh each and also imprisonment of 5 years. The Himachal Pradesh government filed an appeal against the order of the High Court which reduced the jail term of 10 years to half in the Supreme Court. The Apex Court further directed the State to pay compensation to the girl under the Victim Compensation Scheme and deposit it within three months.
Day by day the offences and crimes which are happening against the women are increasing. When any such type of grave offence happens to a woman it becomes the “darkest day of her life”. These types of crimes do not deserve any clemency. With the introduction of section 326A and section 326B still, the instances of acid attack are increasing. The retributive theory of punishment should be taken in preview when deciding the punishment because these criminals will only get to know the consequences of this act when they will be in the same situation. It is an uncivilized and heartless crime.