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The most grievous assault acid attack is common in India Why

Acid Attack also known as acid throwing is a form of violent assault which is defined as the act of throwing acid intentionally on the body of another to disfigure, maim, torture or kill. Acid attack is the cruel, violent, immoral form of crime in the society. Most of the victims in acid attack are women only. Acid attack is heinous type of crime which makes the life of the victim irrecoverable. Sulphuric and hydrochloric acid are the two types of acid which are used in these attacks. The long term consequences of these attacks are that it makes the person blind along with permanent scarring of the face and body. 78% of acid attack is due to rejection of love proposal or refusal to marriage. The most notable effects of acid attack is lifelong bodily disfigurement.

The victim faces a lifelong discrimination from society. It also affects their social, economic and psychological life. As a result of acid attack, the victims are not able to work due to their deformities and it is impossible for them to survive in the society. In some cases their own family abandons them which leads to emotional breakdown of the victim. The medical effects of acid attack are extensive. Kaur and Vinodhini were the latest well-known victims of acid attack. According to National Crime Records Bureau, 222 cases of acid attacks were reported in 2015.Until 2013, the Indian Penal Code did not recognize acid attack as a separate offence. By virtue of Criminal Law (Amendment Act) 2013 Section 326A and 326B were inserted in the Indian Penal Code providing punishment for acid attack and attempted acid attack.

The offence is registered under section 320, 322, 325, 326 and 307 of Indian Penal Code. The SC passed an order to put ban on selling of acid in shops in the case of Laxmi v UOI. In this case for the first time compensation was given to acid attack victim. The Prevention of Acid Attacks and Rehabilitation of Acid Attack Victims Bill, 2017 was enacted to provide for prevention of acid attacks by regulation of sale, supply and use of acid or other measures and rehabilitation of women victims of acid attacks and matter connected therewith. According to this Bill, no person shall be allowed to sell or deliver acid to any person without keeping a record of his identity, the quantity of acid and the purpose for which the acid is to be used. This paper discusses about Justice Verma Committee which has been constituted by the Central Government in 2013 after the Nirbhaya Case to suggest reforms in the Criminal Justice system dealt with the matters of acid attacks. This paper discusses about various provisions, legislations that have been implemented and various case laws related to acid attack. Besides this, it also discusses about the medical care and effective rehabilitation program given to victims of acid attack. It also mentioned that how to prevent people from committing this heinous crime in future.

Acid attack, also known as acid throwing is a form of cruel, immoral act which is defined as the act of throwing acid intentionally on the body of another to disfigure, maim or kill. [1]It is the heinous crime in the society. Sulphuric, hydrochloric and nitric are the three types of acid which are used in these attacks.[2]Until 2013, IPC did not recognize acid attack as a separate offence. By virtue of Criminal Law (Amendment Act), 2013 Section 326A and Section 326B were added in the IPC providing punishment for acid attack and attempted acid attack.[3] Section 326A, IPC provides minimum punishment of not less than 10 years which may extend to imprisonment for life and fine &Section 326B of IPC makes voluntarily throwing or attempting to throw acid with a minimum punishment of five years that may extend to seven years and fine. [4] For the first time compensation was given to acid victim in the case of Laxmi v UOI[5]. In Morepally Venkatasree Nagesh v State of AP[6], the accused was suspicious about the character of his wife and poured mercuric chloride into her vagina, she later died due to renal failure. The accused was charged and convicted under section 302 and 307 IPC. In State of Karnataka by Jalahalli Police Station v Joseph Rodrigues[7], one of the most famous cases involving acid attack. The accused threw acid on a girl named Hasina for refusing his job offer. Due to the acid attack, the colour and appearance of her face changed which left her blind. The accused was convicted under Section 307 of IPC and sentenced to imprisonment for life. Compensation of Rs 2,00,000 in addition to Trial Court fine of Rs 3,00,000 was to be paid by the accused to the parents of Hasina. The aforementioned cases are evident of the harsh repercussions faced by the victims due to the acid attacks. The government is still in the pursuit of stringent measures. The apathy of the society and the psychological stigma surrounding this issue has been a hindrance.

Meaning And Definition Of Acid Attack
According to Section 326A of Indian Penal Code,’’ Whoever causes permanent or partial damage or deformity to, or burns or maims or disfigures or disables, any part or parts of the body of a person or causes grievous hurt by throwing acid on or by administering acid to that person, or by using any other means with the intention of causing or with the knowledge that he is likely to cause such injury or hurt, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may extend to imprisonment for life , and with fine.”[8] According to Section 326B of Indian Penal Code,” Whoever throws or attempts to throw acid on any person or attempts to administer acid to any person, or attempts to use any other means, with the intention of causing permanent or partial damage or deformity or burns or maiming or disfigurement or disability or grievous hurt to that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than five years but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.” Section 357B of Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 lays down, “ The compensation payable by the state Government under section 357A shall be in addition to the payment of fine to the victim under sec 326A or sec 376D of IPC[9]. Section 357C of Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 lays down, “All hospitals, public or private, whether run by the Central Government, local bodies or any other person, shall immediately provide the first aid or medical treatment, free of cost, to the victims of any offence covered under sec 326A, 376, 376A, 376C, 376D or sec 376E of IPC and shall immediately inform the police about such incident. Newly added seventh clause of section 100 of IPC lays down that the right of private defense of body extends to the voluntarily causing of death or of any other harm to the assailant in case of an act of throwing or administering acid or an attempt to throw or administer acid which may reasonably cause the apprehension that grievous hurt will otherwise be the consequence of such act.[10]

Historical Background Of Acid Attack
During ancient time, acid has been used in metallurgy and for etching. In 1879, 16 cases of vitriol acid attacks were reported as “Crimes of Passion” prevalent predominantly by women against another women. The use of acid as a weapon began to rise in developing countries, especially in South Asia. The first acid attack which was recorded in South Asia occurred in Bangladesh in 1967, India in 1982, and Cambodia in 1993.[11]

Causes Of Acid Attack
Acid attack reflects gender inequality and discrimination in society. Generally, acid attack occurs when a girl rejecting love proposal or marriage proposal. Mostly, acid attacks are inflicted against women because they transgress conventional norms that relegate women to subordinate positions. Most acid attacks are carried out by the people known to the victims. The attacks are result of refusal to sexual advances, marriage proposals, failure to pay dowry, vengefulness and status jealous, relationship conflicts. Now a days there has been an increase in crimes against men too, mostly related to disputes over land and other property. 1/4th of the reported victims are children.[12]In Laxmi v UOI[13], the Apex Court issued the direction for the regulation of acid to the state and Union territories. The Court also gave the solution to the problem related with the compensation of acid victims. The Court held that Section 357A provides for the preparation of a scheme for providing funds for the purpose of compensation to the victims of acid attack or hisdependents who have suffered loss or injury as a result of crime and who require rehabilitation. The Court also direct that acid attack victims shall be paid compensation of at least Rs 3,00,000 by the concerned State Government or Union territories.

Why Acid Attack Is Common In India?

Acid attack is a barbaric act and the ratio of these attacks in India cannot be really underestimated. Dousing a woman’s face with an intention to disfigure it is just a side of cowardice. The dominating nature of man is not able to accept the woman who is confident and has the power to challenge the norms of this patriarchal society and this very reason is a concern that acid attacks are increasing in India at a rapid rate. The paradigm shift of women from being submissive towards men to taking a stand for themselves in all matters be it related to marriage, dowry, child bearing etc. is enough to justify that women are not mere puppets who will do anything just to appease men. This has enabled them to fight for their rights and have made women realized that they too can take a stand for themselves against male chauvinism. This is not the only reason behind increasing acid attacks in India but the major reason responsible for worsening scenario in India. The other reasons of acid attack are vengeance and status jealous, relationship conflict, refusal to sexual advances, dispute to land and other property, business conflicts etc. Some of the cases related to acid attack include Sonali Mukherjee’s caseof 2003 in Jharkhand for protesting against sexual harassment and Muhammad Razaq’s case in J&K in 2014 throwing acid on his wife for not bringing enough dowry.[14]For example- In the case of Preeti Rathi, the accused was convicted of the charge of throwing acid on preeti at Bandra Station in 2013 after she choose to pursue her nursing career, declining his proposal for marriage.[15] Special Judge Anju S. Shende said, According to the mitigating and aggravating circumstances, the facts of the case and recent acid attack judgments by the SC, the accused to death.[16] There was another example of acid attack case, kangana Ranaut’s sister, Rangoli became the victim of Acid attack for refusing proposal of Sharma. The accused were later arrested and the prosecution charge sheeted under Section 120B, 326 and 506 of the IPC for hatching conspiracy, physical assault and intimidation.[17]

Consequences Of Acid Attack
The long term consequences of acid attack is permanent bodily disfigurement.[18] The life of acid attack victim completely changes in one day, their loved ones start hating them, society condemns them for their horrible appearances. Acid attack makes the life of the person hell and it also affects their social, psychological and employment opportunities.[19]

1. Physical Consequences
Throwing acid on a person’s face, it rapidly eats the eyes, ears, nose and mouth.[20] Acid can quickly destroy the eyesight.[21] The most notable danger for acid victim is breathing problem.[22] The depth of injury depends on the strength of the acid and duration of contact with the skin.[23] Acid attack dissolve the bones, ears, eyes etc.[24]after the acid attack, it is difficult for the victim to lead a normal life due to their physical deformities.

2. Psychological Consequences
Acid attack victim suffer many mental health issues even after recovery.[25] Acid attack victims has a higher levels of anxiety, depression due to their appearances.[26]

3. Medical Consequences
Medical effects of acid attack are extensive[27]. As the majority of acid attacks are aimed at the face, several articles thoroughly reviewed the medical implications for these victims.[28]

4. Social Consequences
Most of the acid attack victims are being ignored by the society, relatives and even their family members. They feel isolated and lonely. It is very difficult for them to survive in the society.

Statistical Overview On Acid Attack
Acid attacks are carried out because of biased attitudes. There is no national database to statistically track cases of acid violence. To stand up against acid violence on perpetuate basis, reliable statistics are necessary. Based on research conducted by Acid Survivors Foundation India, estimates vary from 500 to 1000 cases in a year. In India, there are 28 states and 7 union territories, it gives a figure of about 350 cases per year, excluding unreported incidents. These unrevealed reasons need to be addressed if acid attack and other forms of violence against women and girls are to be challenged and eradicated. (www.acidviolence.org)[30]. According to Law Commission of India, 174 cases of acid attack were reported in India in 2000.[31] 35 cases of acid attack were reported in Karnataka between 1999 and 2004[32]. According to National Crime Records Bureau, 222 cases were reported in 2015. The percentage of Acid Attack has been increased gradually.

Acid Survivors Trust International
ASTI is the only organization whose sole purpose is to work to end the violence of acid attack across the world. ASTI was founded recognizing the need for local knowledge and expertise in order to stand up against acid attack effectively. ASTI continues to support the development of six organizations in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Pakistan, Nepal, Uganda and India. It also works with the UN agencies, NGOs and strategic partner from across the world to increase awareness of acid violence and develop effectively. (www.acidviolence.org).[33]

Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013
The Criminal Law( Amendment) Bill, 2013 was passed by Lok Sabha on 19th March, 2013 and by Rajya Sabha on 21 March, 2013 which provides for amendment of Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act and Code of Criminal Procedure,1973 on laws related to sexual offences and other offences. The Bill received Presidential assent on 2nd April, 2013 and deemed to come in force from 3rd February, 2013. It was originally an ordinance promulgated by President of India, Pranab Mukherjee on 3rd February, 2013 in the light of the protestin 2012 Delhi Gang rape case.[34] By virtue of Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 Section 326A and Section 326B were inserted in the Indian Penal Code providing punishment for acid attack and attempted acid attack. The offence is registered under Section 320, 322, 325, 326 and 307 of IPC.[35]

Regulation Of Acid Sales
The guidelines for the sale and purchase of acid has been made difficult by government with the issuance of government licenses and the purchase can only be done by people above 18 years of age. The State and Union territories have made acid attacks non- bailable offence with requisite rules under the Poison Act of 1919. [36]

Prevention Of Acid Attacks And Rehabilitation Of Acid Attack Victims Bill, 2017

This bill was enacted to provide for prevention of acid attacks by regulation of sale, supply and use of acid or other measures and rehabilitation of women attacks and matter connected therewith. According to this bill no person shall be allowed to sale or deliver or transport acid without keeping a record of his proper identity, quantity of acid and the purpose for which the acid is to be used. The Bill proposes to make the following provisions[37]-
1. To provide for classification of acid on the basis of its intensity and concentration and to prevent sale of acid of higher concentration for day-to-day purposes;
2. To provide that acid shall not be sold without verifying identity of the buyer and the purpose of its use;
3. To provide that proper records of stock, sales etc. of acid shall be maintained by dealers;
4. To make unregulated sale of acid is an offence punishable with six months imprisonment and fine;
5. To provide that acid attack victims shall be treated as persons with disabilities for the purposes of availing benefits under various schemes of the Governments, including employment under the Central Government, State Governments or bodies thereunder;
6. To increase the maximum quantum of punishment for acid attack under section 326B of the IPC to imprisonment for ten years;
7. To stipulate the minimum amount of compensation for acid attack victims as ten lakh in cases of grievous hurt and three lakh in other cases or such higher amount as may be specified;
8. To provide monthly allowance to certain victims of acid attacks; and
9. To provide that any reconstructive cosmetic surgeries shall be treated as medical treatment in case of acid attack victims.

Justice Verma Committee
J S Verma Committee discussed about various crimes prevailing in the society. This Committee focuses on acid attack which is committed against women. There are some of the recommendations made by the J S Verma related to acid attack.[38]. This Committee has been constituted by the Central Government in 2013 after the Nirbhaya Case to suggest reforms in the Criminal Justice System dealt with the matter of acid attacks.[39]

Case Laws Related To Acid Attack
1. In Revinder Singh v State of Haryana[40], acid was poured on a woman by her husband for refusing to grant him a divorce. The husband was involved in an extra-marital affair. Due to the attack, the victim suffered multiple acid burns on her face and other parts of her body leading to her death. The accused was charged and convicted under Section 302 of the IPC. However, life imprisonment was not imposed even though the victim had died.

2. In Syed Shafique Ahmed v State of Maharashtra[41], a personal enmity with his wife was the main reason behind the acid attack by the husband on his wife as well as another person. This acid attack caused disfiguration on his wife’s face as well as that other person and the wife lost her vision of right eye. The accused was convicted under section 326 and section 324 of the IPC and sentenced to rigorous

3. In Parivartan Kendra v UOI[42], two dalit girls of Bihar, who were attacked by four assailants who threw acid on the face and bodies of the girls while they were sleeping on their rooftops. The Supreme Court issued a direction that the State Governments/ UT should seriously discuss and take up the matter with all the private hospitals in their respective State/ UT to the effect that the private hospitals should not refuse treatment to victims of acid attack and that full treatment should be provided to such victims including medicines, food, bedding and reconstructive surgeries. The Apex Court said that there is no need to set up a separate Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and the Court also clarified that the State Government/UT concerned can give even more amount of compensation more than Rs. 3Lakh. The Court also said that the State Government/ UT should take a stringent action be taken against those erring persons supplying acid without proper authorization and the concerned authorities would be made responsible for failure to keep a check on the distribution of the acid.

4. In Ravada Sasikala v State of Andhra Pradesh & Anr.[43],the victim, after completion of her intermediate course had accompanied her brother to Amalapuram of East Godavari district where he was working as an assistant professor in BVC engineering College and stayed with him about a week prior to the occurrence. Thereafter, she along with her brother went to his native place Sompuram. At that time, the elder brother of the accused proposed a marriage alliance between the accused and the appellant, for which her family expressed unwillingness. To take revenge, the accused trespassed in to her house and poured a bottle of acid over her head. The Court held him guilty under Section 326 and 448 IPC and sentenced him to suffer rigorous imprisonment for one year and directed to pay a fine of Rs 5,000 with a default clause under Section 326 IPC, and sentenced him to pay a fine of Rs 1,000 for the offence under Section 448 IPC with a default clause.

5. In Ramesh Dey and Others v State of West Bengal, [44] the accused had made a previous attempt to throw acid on the victim, succeeding on the second attempt. The motive for the crime was revenge, as the victim had reject the overtures of the main accused Ramesh. The accused along with two others went to the victim’s house and threw a bottle of acid on the victim outside her house where she, her mother, her aunt and her little son were sitting. The victim, her mother, her aunt and her son sustained injuries. The victim, Padma, died due to extensive acid burns on the neck, chest, breasts, legs, knees and scalp. The additional sessions Judge awarded imprisonment for life and a fine for Rs. 5,000 under Section 302 and 34 of the IPC. The appellants were also convicted under Section 324/34 IPC and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment of one year and to pay a fine of Rs. 1,000 each in default to suffer simple imprisonment for two months.

Conclusion
An acid attack has lifelong consequences on the life of the victim. It makes the life of the victim hell permanently. It permanently scares the victim’s life. It is very difficult for the victim of acid attack to get jobs, to get married, go to school etc. Society stare and look at them as if they were not human beings. Society condemns them for their appearances. Even if they want to pursue a normal life, then what is the surety that society will accept and treat them as normal human beings by looking at their appearances? So, the government has to make more new laws, legislation, amendments and take stringent measures to end this menace. The Government should also arrange proper medical care and effective rehabilitation program given to victims of acid attack.

End-Notes
[1]Acid Throwing, available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid_throwing ( visited on January 19, 2018)
[2] Acid Throwing, available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid_throwing ( visited on January 22,2018)
[3] K.D.Gaur, Textbook on Indian Penal Code 635( Universal Law Publishing, Noida, 5th edition, 2014)
[4] K.D.Gaur, Textbook on Indian Penal Code 635( Universal Law Publishing, Noida, 5th edition, 2014)
[5] (2014) 4 SCC 427
[6] Morepally Venkata Nagesh v State of AP, 2002 Cri LJ 3625(AP)
[7] State of Karnataka by Jalahalli Police Station v Joseph Rodrigues s/o v.z. Rodrigues( Decided in the Hon’ble Court of Kerala on 22/8/2006
[8] K.D.Gaur, Textbook on Indian Penal Code 634( Universal Law Publishing, Noida, 5th edition, 2014)
[9] R.V.Kelkar, Criminal Procedure 639( EBC Publishing(P) Ltd, Lucknow, 6th edition, 2014)
[10] R.V.Kelkar, Criminal Procedure 639(EBC Publishing(P) Ltd, Lucknow, 6th edition, 2014)
[11]Acid Throwing, available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid_throwing( visited on January 19,2018)
[12]Acid Attacks: On Social evils, available at: https://www.slideshare.net/amar1998/acid-attacks-onsocial-evils( visited on January 20, 2018)
[13]( 2014) 4 SCC 427
[14]Acid Attack in India, available at: https://www.slideshare.net/DrGireesha123/acid-attacks-in-india( Visited on January 20, 2018)
[15] Acid attack sentencing and legislation in India, available at: https://blog.ipleaders.in/acid-attack-sentencing-legislation-india/( Visited on January 20, 2018)
[16] Acid attack sentencing and legislation in India, available at: https://blog.ipleaders.in/acid-attack-sentencing-legislation-india/( Visited on January 20, 2018)
[17] Convict of acid attack on Kangana Ranaut’s sister granted bail, available at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/convict-of-acid-attack-on-kangana-s-sister-granted-bail/story-GIYoLqQTyKKT1FnF0mwfdO.html( Visited on January 22, 2018)
[18]Acid Attack and the Law in India, available at: https://blog.ipleaders.in/acid-attack-and-the-law-in-india/( Visited on January 20, 2018)
[19]Acid Attack and the Law in India, available at: https://blog.ipleaders.in/acid-attack-and-the-law-in-india/( Visited on January 20, 2018)
[20] Dr. Ambika R Nair, “Acid attack- violence against women ‘Need of the Hour’”, 1 JIRAS 110( 2014)
[21] Dr. Ambika R Nair, “Acid attack- violence against women ‘Need of the Hour’”, 1 JIRAS 110( 2014)
[22] Dr. Ambika R Nair, “Acid attack- violence against women ‘Need of the Hour’”, 1 JIRAS 110( 2014)
[23] Dr. Ambika R Nair, “Acid attack- violence against women ‘Need of the Hour’”, 1 JIRAS 110( 2014)
[24] Dr. Ambika R Nair, “Acid attack- violence against women ‘Need of the Hour’”, 1 JIRAS 110( 2014)
[25] Mamta Patel, “ A desire to disfigure: Acid Attack in India”, 7 IJCAST 2( 2014)
[26] Mamta Patel, “ A desire to disfigure : Acid Attack in India”, 7 IJCAST 2(2014)
[27]https://blog.ipleaders.in/acid-attack-and-the-law-in-india/( Visited on January 20, 2018)
[28] Mannan Ashim, Samuel Ghani, Alex Clarke & Peter E.M Butler,” Cases of Chemical assault worldwide: A literature review”
[29] Mamta Patel, “ A desire to disfigure: Acid Attack in India”,7 IJCAST, 2(2014)
[30] Mamta Patel, “ A desire to disfigure: Acid Attack in India”,7 IJCAST, 2(2014)
[31] Law Commission of India, 226th Report on the inclusion of Acid Attacks as a specific offences in the Indian Penal Code and a law for compensation for victims of Crime(July,2009)
[32]Law Commission of India, 226th Report on the inclusion of Acid Attacks as specific offences in the Indian Penal Code and a law for compensation for victims of Crime( July,2009)
[33] Mamta Patel, “ A desire to disfigure: Acid Attack in India”,7 IJCAST, 2(2014)
[34] Dr.Ambika R Nair, “ Acid attack- Violence against women’Need of the Hour’” 1 JIRAS 110(2014)
[35] K.D. Gaur, Textbook on Indian Penal Code 635( Universal Law Publishing, Noida, 5th edition, 2014)
[36]Activists welcome SC directions on acid sale regulations, available at: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Activists-welcome-SC-directions-on-acid-sale-regulations/articleshow/21147471.cms( Visited on January 20, 2018)
[37]The Prevention of Acid Attacks and Rehabilitation of Acid Attack Victims Bill, 2017, available at: http://164.100.24.219/BillsTexts/RSBillTexts/AsIntroduced/Acid%20atak-4817-E.pdf( Visited on January 20, 2018)
[38] Dr.Ambika R Nair, “ Acid attack- Violence against women’ Need of the Hour’ “ 1 JIRAS 110(2014)
[39] Dr.Ambika R Nair, “ Acid attack- Violence against women’ Need of the Hour’ “ 1 JIRAS 110(2014)
[40] AIR 1975 SC 856
[41]Syed Shafique Ahmed v State of Maharashtra, 2002 Cri LJ 1403(B)
[42]2015(13) SCALE 325
[43] Ravada Sasikala v State of Andhra Pradesh & Anr 2017 Cr.L.R 276(SC)
[44] 2007(3) CHN 775

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