This article is written by Kaanchi Ahuja, a Third year B.A. LLB (Hons.) Student of Ideal Institute of Management and Technology (Affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indrapastha University), Delhi.
“He changed my face, not my heart. He threw acid on my face, not on my dreams”.
-Laxmi Agrawal, Acid Attack Victim
Before 2013, cases were registered under different sections of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 like hurt, grievous hurt, grievous hurt by corrosive substances and murder. Massive changes in punishment and medical treatment in cases of Acid Attacks were brought in by the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013.
Till recently there was no specific law under the Indian Penal Code to deal with the cases of acid attack. The scope of Section 326-Voluntarily Causing Grievous Hurt by Dangerous Weapons or Means was very narrow.
In Marepally Venkata Sree Nagesh v. State of A.P the accused inserted mercuric chloride into his wife’s vagina on suspicion of extra-marital affair. She died due to renal failure and the accused was charged and convicted under Section 302 and 307 IPC.
In Devanand v. The State a man threw acid on his wife because she refused to live with him. The wife suffered permanent disfigurement. The accused was convicted u/s 307.
Role of Indian Judiciary after 2014
In 2014, the judiciary tried to develop a new Jurisprudence in the case of Laxmi v. Union of India. The victim of a gruesome acid attack, Laxmi, filed a PIL in the Supreme Court urging for regulation on sale of acid and framing of a new law or amendment to the existing criminal laws like Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act and Code of Criminal Procedure for dealing with the offence.
226th Law Commission Report
- According to the Commission there is no specific Section in the Indian Penal Code which deals with acid attacks. The provision of the Indian Penal Code are is inadequate to deal with the issue of acid attack.
- The committee proposed that a new provision (Hurt by Acid and intentionally throwing or administering acid) should be added to the Indian Penal Code.
- It further proposes that for the reasons stated above, that in cases of acid attack a presumption be incorporated in the Indian Evidence Act.
- It also proposed to enact Criminal Injuries Compensation Act as a separate Law by the government.
The 18th Law Commission of India which was headed by Justice A.R. Lakshmanan proposed a new Section 326A and Section 326B in the India Penal Code,1860 and Section 114B (Presumption as to acid attack) in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. Acid Attack is now a separate offence under the IPC through Criminal (Amendment) Act, 2013.
Compensation under Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 for Acid Attack Victims
Under Section 357B the compensation payable by the State Government under Section 357A shall be in addition to the payment of fine to the victim under section 326A of the Indian Penal Code.
Under Section 357C all hospitals, public or private, shall immediately, provide the first-aid or medical treatment, free of cost, to the victims of any offence covered under section 326A of the Indian Penal Code.
Additionally in 2009, a new section 357A was introduced which casts a responsibility on the state governments to formulate schemes for compensation to victims of crime in coordination with central govt.
NALSA’s Compensation Scheme for Women Victims/Survivors of Sexual Assault/other Crimes – 2018
The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Nipun Saxena v. Union of India was of the opinion that “it would be appropriate if NALSA sets up a Committee who can prepare Model Rules for Victim Compensation for sexual offences and acid attacks.”
Compensation may be awarded to the victim or her dependents as specified in the scheduled.
Victim of Acid Attack
|s.no||Particulars of loss or injury||Minimum Limit of Compensation||Upper Limit of Compensation|
|1.||In case of disfigurement of face.||Rs. 7 Lakh||Rs. 8 Lakh|
|2.||In case of injury more than 50%||Rs. 5 Lakh||Rs. 8 Lakh|
|3.||In case of injury less than 50%||Rs. 3 Lakh||Rs. 5 Lakh|
|4.||In case of injury less than 20%||Rs. 3 Lakh||Rs. 4 Lakh|
Factors to be considered while awarding compensation
While deciding a matter, the State Legal Services Authority may take into consideration the following factors relating to the loss or injury suffered by the victim:
- Gravity of the offence and severity of mental or physical harm or injury suffered by the victim;
- Expenditure incurred or likely to be incurred on the medical treatment for physical and/or mental health including counselling of the victim, funeral
- Loss of educational opportunity
- Loss of employment as a result of the offence
India has addressed the issue of acid attacks by framing suitable laws but clearly these laws need better execution, as our endeavour to put survivors on the road to rehabilitation.