vicious liquid in a bottle or we can say hell in a bottle, causes a havoc in
the life of many people, the loss of which is irreparable by any means. The word
acid in itself causes a different sensation, and then what is the plight of
those who are the victims of acid attack.
The acid which is used to clean
toilets and kitchen are now being used to take revenge or satisfy ego. Acid
attack is an inhuman and grievous form of violence that involves the throwing of
acid on the other person with an intention to disfigure, mutilate or kill that
Acid attack in general is not a gender specific crime and can be
committed by both men and women. But women are more prone to these attacks. Acid
attack is an alarming issue that needs a lot of reform in its area.These
attacks are dreadful in nature as they cause perennial suffering to not only
victims but also their loved ones. These attacks also lead to disabilities which
are permanent in nature.
Many cases of the acid attack go unreported because of
the involvement of family members or the close ones. There is a need for more
stringent laws, but above that there is a need for psychological development of
the minds of people. No law would help if we don't change our mind set and stop
treating one another as a commodity, because scars of the acid attack leave a
long lasting impact not only on face but also on the life of the survivor.
researchers in this article will deal with the gravity of acid attack.
Researchers have made an attempt to understand the reasons for the attacks. It
would also deal with the physical, social, economic and psychological effects of
acid attack that victim can have. The paper outlines the different provisions of
Criminal Justice System of India against this serious offence with the help of
case laws. At last researchers have tried to give some suggestion on how these
vicious attacks can be stop.
A few scars depart lasting imprints in life which can't be either washed away or
you can't dispose of them for lifetime. So are the scars of acid attack. These
attacks are not something unheard of in our country. It is perhaps the most
noticeably awful curse on another human -leading to complete debilitation, loss
of pay and opportunity, and even social sequestration-and it can happen to
anyone, at any time. In India women are personified as Shakti, considered as
But in reality they are still considered as possession, they are
still abused. Women are considered as a weaker section of society due to their
lower economic, social and legal status.Females are more prone to these
attacks. But, male counterparts are also the victim of acid attack, mainly due
to land disputes. Gender-based violence is endemic worldwide, cutting across
age, marital status, religion, ethnicity, class, urban or rural locations, race,
sexual identity, monetary circumstance, and thus poses human rights violations
and public health concerns.
It includes acid attack violence, child marriage,
forced abortion, honour killing, female genital mutilation, forced use of
contraceptives, rape, sexual harassment, stalking, enforced sterilization of
pregnancy, forced prostitution, heterosexual and same sex domestic violence and
enslavement of women.In a male dominated society, a woman has to face
exploitation at every step of her life. The struggle starts even before she
enters the world.
Women have to fight a battle for her survival. Sometimes it is
in the form of female foeticide, child marriage, trafficking or in the form of
acid attack. Most of the acid attack goes unreported because they are committed
by family members themselves. The male chauvinist in society always tries to supress the voice
The most remarkable impact of the acid attack is the
long lasting real distortion that they cause to human body. Acid attack has
damaging effect not only on women but also on society. The states like Uttar
Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab and Haryana having worst sex ratios account for maximum
number of acid attack victims while the north-eastern states, where women play a
more decisive role in society, have less number of such attacks.
What Does The Term "Acid Attack" Mean?
Acid attack is a horrendous crime usually committed against any women with an
intention to maim, disfigure or kill her. The United Nations Entity for Gender
Equality and the Empowerment of Women, defines "Acid Attack" as any act or
omission, caused by corrosive substance/acid to be thrown or administered in any
form on the victim with the intention that such person is likely to cause to the
other person permanent or partial damage/injury or deformity or disfiguration to
any part of the body of such person.
According to a proposed scheme drafted by National Commission for women for
relief and rehabilitation of offences (By Acids) on women and children, the term
acid attack means "any act of throwing acid or using acid in any form on
the victim with the intention of or with knowledge that such person is likely to
cause to the other person Permanent or partial damage or deformity or
disfiguration to any part of the body of such person".
Acid attack is also known as vitriolage as it is the violent form of assault.
Acid violence is a premeditated act of violence as the perpetrator of the crime
carries out the attack by first obtaining the acid, carrying it on him and then
stalking the victim before executing the act.
Causes And Consequences
Acid violence is a premeditated act of violence. There are many factors that
lead to such type of attacks against women in India such as: spurned love and
affection, sexual desire, economic or land disputes, jealously or revenge etc.
Past cases reveal motives of revenge, sadism, and coercive action. The eminent
academician Afroza Anwary thinks that, men throw acid on woman's face as a mark
of their masculinity and superiority, "to keep women in their place".
The main causes are:
# Family disputes; domestic violence; relationship conflicts
# Refusal of indecent proposals or unacceptable propositions
# Land or money disputes; business conflicts
# Vengefulness and status jealousy
# Suspicion of infidelity
# Theft or robbery
# Mistaken identity; accidental; collateral
# Nemesis : perpetrator inflicts self-injury
# Sex crimes, rape, and sodomy - leading to victim's death in worst cases.
# Refused to sex determination test
# Dowry menace
# Giving birth to girls
The Kolkata-based Acid Survivors Foundation India (ASFI) says, based on a study,
that the most prominent causes of acid attacks in India are domestic violence,
dowry demands, marital rejections and suspicion of infidelity. Sociology
professor Satish Deshpande said recently that Indian men were finding it
difficult to cope with emancipated women who were pursuing professional life
outside the home. "For men whose patriarchy is seen to be threatened and
insecure, this new breed of women may be an unbearable provocation," he said.
"Let's not talk about women in Metro cities who are a threat to male ego.
are so many incidents from our own towns and villages in Bihar where women face
abuse and tension from their husbands because they have tried to better their
economic or social status. The man may 'give permission' for his wife to join a
women's group or to complete her education. But in many cases, if the woman
wants to assert her right over her own earned money, or participate in
decision-making, the husband doesn't like it, the father-in-law will not like
it," Urmila of Bihar Mahila Samakhya Society points out.
"And most violence,
including that of acid attacks, springs from this inability of some men to cope
with the independent-minded woman, be it in the town or in the village."
"Before I knew it, they had flung me onto the road, pinned me down and threw
acid on my face. I kept screaming for help but no one stepped forth. Everyone
ran in the opposite direction. I could feel my flesh burning and I covered my
eyes with my arms."
These were the words of a 16 year old girl Laxmi when a 32-year-old man drenched
her face in acid because she rejected his romantic advances.
Anger over rejection causes the desire to lash out and inherent disregard for
women in specific and human suffering in general seeds the thought. Why a simple
'NO' hurts the ego of the males in our society? If a person cannot bear the pain
of rejection so is it justified to cause such a deadly pain to another person?
Un-directed outrage and dissatisfaction is behind the wrongdoings as much as
pre- disposition to violence assumes a noteworthy part.
Since Sulphuric, nitric,
and hydrochloric acids are used as a low cost cleaning agent, buying acid hardly
ever raises suspicion. This increases the existence of acid attack due to the
easy availability of acid in market at cheap rates. Although government has
taken measures to regulate the supply of acid in market but does a valid id card
permits you to do invalid things at the stake of others' life? In the name of
id-card people buy acid for fulfilling their crook motives.
Acid attack leads to the destruction of both body and soul. Some of the effects
or consequences of acid attack are:
1) Psychological Effect
It takes couple of seconds to ruin or disfigure a person but it takes years to
erase this horrific act from the mind of a person. There is a higher level of
anxiety, depression, due to their appearance reported among acid attack victims.
Increased self-consciousness and lowered self-esteem is reported by women both
in general and in the social sphere.
2) Social And Economic Effect
Victims face a lifetime of discrimination from society and they become lonely.
They are embarrassed that people may stare or laugh at them and may hesitate to
leave their homes fearing an adverse reaction from the outside world. Victims
who are not married are not likely to get married and those victims who have got
serious disabilities because of an attack like blindness, will not find jobs and
earn a living. Discrimination from other people, or disabilities such as
blindness, makes it very difficult for victims to fend for themselves and they
become dependent on others for food and money.
3) Medical Effects
The medical effects of acid attacks are extensive. As a majority of acid attacks
are aimed at the face, several articles thoroughly reviewed the medical
implications for these victims. Severity of the damage depends on the
concentration of the acid and the period of time before the acid is thoroughly
washed off with water or neutralized with a neutralizing agent. The acid can
rapidly eat away skin, the layer of fat beneath the skin, and in some cases even
the underlying bone. Eyelids and lips may be completely destroyed, the nose and
ears severely damaged & the acid attack victims also face the possibility of septicaemia, renal failure, skin
depigmentation, and even death.
Before 2013 Indian criminal law did not recognize acid violence cases as a
separate offence. So, there is no separate statistics for acid violence cases
before 2013. In Feb 2013 amendment in Indian Penal Code took place because of
which episodes of acid attack are presently being recorded as a separate offence
under section 326 A and 326 B.
The first data available after the amendment relate to the year 2014 when 225
cases were reported from all over India. This indicates a steep rise compared to
the previous years – 106 in 2012 and 116 in 2013. With the amendment in
Indian Penal Code, the reporting / classification of acid violence seems to have
gained momentum and the official record for 2014 puts the number of incidents of
acid violence all over India at 225 and the numbers for 2015 and 2016 have shown
rising trends at 249 and 307 respectively.According to National Crime
Records Bureau (NCRB) report of 2016 number of victims subjected to acid attack
This dreadful attack is not only limited to any particular area rather it has
been taking place across different parts of nation. Among the states and UT-s,
West Bengal registered a jump of 102.4% from 41 (in 2015) to 86 which is the
highest among all. Number of incidents recorded in Uttar Pradesh (second largest
number of victims during the year) remained static at 61 while Delhi recorded
marginal rise from 21 (in 2015) to 23 and has recorded the 3rd largest number of
victims. Punjab recorded the 4th highest number of victims at 18 (compared to 7
in 2015 – 157.1 % rise) and Haryana has registered the 5th largest number at 17
which is 41.7% higher than last year (12 victims in 2015).
Shockingly, numerous cases go unreported, particularly if a relative is the
attacker. Megha Mishra, manager of the North India of the Acid Attack survivor
Foundation India, has seen circumstances where survivors keep on staying with
the attacker, if it is a family member or a relative, for they have no place
else to go. Harmed and blinded, women find hard to get jobs and are unable to
support themselves. These cases reflect the express lack of care of the
arrangement of administration and equity, and consider ineffectively us as a
Legal Provisions And Development
The United Nations General Assembly passed the Declaration on the Elimination of
Violence against Women in 1993. India has ratified this Declaration and is
under an obligation to implement the same. Article 4 (f) of this declaration
recommends member states to develop preventive approaches for violence against
women by legal measures. There should be separate provisions for granting
exemplary damages to the victims of such crime. The parliament of India has the
power to make laws to give effect to these international agreements under
Article 253 of Indian Constitution. Therefore it can be construe that India has
an obligation to effectively curb the menace of acid violence.
Before 2013 there was no specific provision to deal with this type of brutal
crime. Prior to 2013 the offence was registered under sec 320, 322, 325, 326 and
307 of Indian Penal Code. Section 320 defines what constitutes "grievous hurt".
Whereas section 322 deals with "Voluntarily causing grievous hurt". The
definition of "grievous hurt" defines the nature of injuries which would
constitute offence of grievous hurt but it does not include all the
circumstances of acid attack.
Suppose if the perpetrator causes only skin damage
and no other damage to the victim of acid attack, then it would not amount to
grievous hurt as defined under section 320 of IPC because under this section
grievous hurt has been defined as emasculation of the victim's reproductive and
sexual organs, permanent privation of the sight of either eye, permanent
privation of the hearing of either ear, privation of any member or joint, the
destruction or permanent impairing of any member or joint, permanent
disfiguration of the head or face, fracture or dislocation of a bone or a tooth,
and any hurt that endangers life or which causes the sufferer to be during the
space of 20 days in severe bodily pain, or unable to follow [her or his]
If the perpetrator is not charged under grievous hurt,
then it will fall under "hurt" and perpetrator will get minimal punishment
The definition of grievous hurt does not subsume the
contempt, sensitivity and disgrace that the victims of acid attack face and nor
does it mull over the loss of earning capacity of the victim. This minimal
punishment can't be compared with the huge loss suffered by the victim. These
punishments are insufficient to deal with the perils of acid attack.
perpetrator of acid attack is to be charged under "grievous hurt" or "hurt" was
a highly contentious issue and left a great void in criminal justice system. In
addition to this there was no provision in the code regarding attempt to throw
acid. Moreover, the sad part was the term "Acid Attack" was nowhere defined in
the code. There was a need to fill the gap that was present in the old piece of
Due to the increase in the cases of acid attack or vitriolage and on the
recommendation of Justice Verma Committee report, the then government of India
finally decided to amend the old piece of legislation and bring in some new
Even the Apex Court strongly condemned the then Government for failing
miserably to formulate a policy to reduce acid attack violence on women. The Law
Commission, headed by Justice A.R Lakshmanan, proposed that a new Section 326A
and Section 326B is to be added to the IPC. After the gruesome incident of gang
rape that had happened in December 2012, Justice Verma committee was formed to
propose changes in the then existing laws.
Hence, this pave the path to the
formation of the Criminal Amendment Act, 2013 which has been gazette on 2nd
April 2013 with the object of making specific provision for punishment in case
of grievous hurt by use of acid etc. or voluntarily throwing or attempting to
throw acid causing permanent or partial damage, or deformity to, or burns or
maims or disfigures or disable any part of the body of that person.
Many changes came in 2013 by Criminal (Amendment) Act, 2013. Sec 326A and Sec
326B added in IPC. Section 326 A states – "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."
Provided that such fine shall be just and reasonable
to meet the medical expenses of the treatment of the victim. Provided further
that any fine imposed under this section shall be paid to the
Whereas section 326 B states- "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."
Under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013, a new clause was inserted in
Section 100 of the Indian Penal Code. Under this newly added clause, an act of
throwing acid or even an attempt to throw or administer acid which may be
reasonable to cause the apprehension that grievous hurt will otherwise be the
consequence of such act.
Section 357 Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 was also included in Criminal
Amendment Act, 2013. It states that "all hospitals, public or private, whether
run by the Central Government, the State Government, local bodies, shall
immediately provide first-aid or medical treatment, free of cost to the victims
of any offence covered under Sections 326A, 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D or 376E
of the Indian Penal Code, and shall also inform the police immediately."
The Prevention of Acid Attacks and Rehabilitation of Acid Attack Victims bill,
2017 was introduced in Rajya Sabha on 4th August, 2017. This bill 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 matters
connected therewith or incidental thereto.
In order to facilitate rehabilitation of acid attack victims and to prevent
unregulated sale of acid, the Bill proposes to make the following provisions:-
(i) to provide for classification of acid on the basis of its intensity
and concentration and to prevent sale of acid of higher concentration for
(ii) to provide that acid shall not be sold without verifying identity of
the buyer and the purpose of its use;
(iii) to provide that proper records of stock, sales, etc. of acid shall
be maintained by dealers;
(iv) to make unregulated sale of acid an offence punishable with six
months' imprisonment and fine;
(v) 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;
(vi) to increase the maximum quantum of punishment for acid attack under
section 326B of the Indian Penal Code to imprisonment for ten years;
(vii) 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;
(viii) to provide monthly allowance to certain victims of acid attacks; and
(ix) to provide that any reconstructive cosmetic surgeries shall be
treated as medical treatment in case of acid attack victims.
The Bill seeks to achieve the above objects.
Cases Related To Acid Attack
Revinder Singh's Case
: In this case, husband poured acid on a woman because
she refused to grant him divorce. The husband was engaged in extra – marital
affair. Victim suffered multiple acid burns on her face and other parts of the
body, leading her to death. The accused was convicted under section 302 of the IPC. However, life imprisonment was not imposed even though the victim had died.
Case was decided by the Apex Court.
Haseena Hussain's Case
: Joseph Rodriguez, the ex – boss of the victim threw sulphuric
acid on her when she decided to relinquished her job. The corrosive melted her
face, fused her shoulder and neck, burnt a hole in her head, blended her fingers
and blinded her for life. The accused was convicted under section 307 of IPC and was sentenced to imprisonment
for life. This case is important because court has awarded compensation of
Rs.2,00,000 in addition to the trial Court fine of Rs. 3,00,000 to the victim to meet her medical expenses.
 – one of the most important cases of vitriolage which
has changed the perception of Apex Court regarding acid attack was the case of Laxmi's. The Hon'ble Supreme Court
of India, "keeping in mind the constitutional
provisions of Arts.21, 14, 15 and 32, issued guidelines as preventive measures
and relief to the victims of the acid attack, and also passed an order urging
the need for framing rules regulating retail sale of acids in the society., and
also directed the state authorities to provide a uniform compensation of Rs.3 lakh as expeditiously as possible. The accused were awarded rigorous
imprisonment of 7 and 10 years respectively."
Preeti Rathi's Case
: Preeti had got a job of Lieutenant in Indian Navy and
had come to Mumbai to join the naval hospital in Colaba on 2nd may 2013, on her
way to work, a man threw acid on her face which completely damaged her eye and
infected her kidneys. In addition to this acid has entered her windpipe and
trachea causing her unbearable pain. She succumbed to injuries and lost her
Perpetrator was booked under section 302 of IPC, section 326 –A and
section 326 –B of IPC. This case is a landmark case because in this case special
women's court sentenced 25-year-old Ankur Panwar to death for a fatal acid
attack on 23-year-old nurse Preeti Rathi at Bandra terminus in May 2013. This is
the first time convict of acid attack in India has been sentenced to death.
Though judiciary has come a long way while dealing with the cases of vitriolage.
But still there is a long way to go.
How To Stop Acid Attacks?
Although government is taking proper measures to curb down the growth of acid
attacks in our country. Still our nation wants more stringent laws and
punishment regarding this. As our lawmakers have asked the person buying acid to
produce before the shopkeeper a valid id card and the purpose of usage but the
changes that need to be made are that the government should list down the areas
where acid can be used and the quantity along with it. A person using more than
prescribed quantity should be punished accordingly.
There should be separate shops for acids only in a particular locality so that
it can be easy to trace the wrongdoer. Any form of acid should not be available
at general stores, this should be completely banned. There is a need of stricter
regulation on acid sales in order to tackle this social issue.
Moreover, Framing of law is not sufficient. It has to be executed in proper
manner. Indian judiciary is burdened with huge no of cases. It takes years for
the trial to take place. Perpetrators of the crime are not punished for several
years in spite of having stringent laws.
There is need to have separate bench or
tribunal to set up for speedy and expeditious justice for acid attack victims.
Such body will be exclusively reserved for cases related to acid attack which
will ensure quick deliverance of justice and legal aid to victims.
Police should play leading and crucial part to curb the menace of crime.
However, in a country like India role of investigating agency is not up to the
mark. The move that the police make is inadequate and ineffective particularly,
when it comes to stop the violence against women.
They are obtuse in their
conduct to deal with the victims of rape, and different kinds of viciousness
regardless of SC's strict rules on the issue. The police and judiciary ought to
be more gender sensitive, with sufficient training and lessons about gender
sensitization alongside new and creative examination methods/accumulation of
Empowering The Victims Of Acid Attack
"Outer beauty is momentary. What will you do by just being bodily beautiful?
Even the ones who threw acid at us were beautiful from outside. Yes, I am
beautiful, my soul is beautiful. The pain remains but the scars have gone. They
can no more confine me to the four walls of my home. I am ready to fly, alone or
with my companion."
A café in the city of Taj has been established by the founder of Stop Acid
Attack (SAA) Alok dixit and it is run by the survivors of acid attack. The main
aim of the SAA campaign is to raise awareness of acid violence by using social
media. We created a network of acid attack survivors in India. Our aim is to
make them leaders. It's not like we represent them, it's more like they
themselves take care of their cause and fight for their rights.
Dixit told DW.
The legal role of NGOs should be increase in order to offer rehabilitation
support to acid survivors. offering acid victims legal, medical, counselling and
monetary assistance in rebuilding their lives. Acid attack victims should be
given preference at job. Moreover, they should be allowed to continue their
There is a need to empower the women in all respect whether it is political,
legal, economic or social. Survivors of such attack should be given better job
opportunities, training etc so that they can at least meet their day to day
livelihood needs. Despite the fact that endeavours have been made by the
Government to rehabilitate and provide compensation to such victims, yet they
are not sufficient thinking about the gravity of the offense.
The author and gender expert Kamla Bhasin, in her treatise on Exploring
"I believe we need a movement of men towards parenting, household work and
family kitchens. Let us give ladles and spoons to our boys so that their hands
are not free to pick up guns; give them children to look after and play with so
that they have no time to play with death. Make men mothers so that they have no
time to be rapists, murderers or terrorists. Make them 'homemakers' so that they
stop being 'trouble makers'; create 'love instincts' in them to drown their
The society has a tendency to acknowledge the general population who are
conceived daze or physically challenged, however with regards to the assault
casualties, they are evaded and these same individuals are scared to even look
at them. There are many to fight for the rights of the women but who would come
up to fight for these brutally disfigured women.
Have we attained that stage
when we can say that we have done enough for the protection of their rights? The
answer is still No. Everything in our country becomes a hotly debated issue
rather than an issue that needs to be solved. Sitting on a couch and watch these
horrific news with miserable expression is all what we do. But we have got less
to do something practical for this miserable situation.
Acid attack is a complex
and multi-dimensional problem that makes it very difficult for the survivors to
return to normalcy. Acid attack was classified as a separate category of crime
in the year 2013 in the midst of developing incidents of retribution on women
who spurn lewd gestures or reject engagement propositions. one cannot completely
accuse the authorities for the pervasive circumstances, change should come from
within. Without the societal contribution even the most stringent of laws will
undoubtedly be mocked.
*By Krati Bhardwaj
mail id- [email protected]
mail id- [email protected]
3 year LLb (1styear) New Law College (Bharti Vidyapeeth), Pune.
BA LLb (Hons) (3rdyear) Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow.
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Articles on Victim Compensation in India:
Compensation to the Victim of Crime: Assessing Legislative Frame Work and Role
of Indian Courts
Victim Compensation Scheme: An Aspect of Modern Criminology
Uncivilized And Heartless Crime: SC Enhances Compensation To Acid Attack Victim
Victims Rights in India
analysis of law relating to Accident Claims in India
Compensation: A Ray of Hope
Role of Indian Judiciary in Protecting Victims Rights
Legal Pronouncements for Compensation under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles
Remedy of Compensation under Article 32
Gender Sensitization and Rehabilitation of Rape Victims
Category-wise Analysis of Awarded Cases related to compensation to the Bhopal
Basic Principles of Victims of Crime with including the challenges and current
scenario in India
Can Victims Claim Compensation?
Speed Break To Section 304-A of IPC
Rights of Accused Far Outweigh That of Victims, Need Some Balancing So That
Criminal Proceedings Are Fair To Both
Victims, victimization and victimology
Quantum of damages in Tort Law
Rehabilitation of Trafficked Children in India: Socio and Legal framework
Legal Aspects of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy
Compensatory Jurisprudence In India
Role of Decisions Law In Developing Concept of Compensatory Jurisprudence
Trafficking in Women and Children - An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of