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Laxmi vs. Union of India: A case Analysis and Application of Jurisprudence

It is well said that In every woman's life, her face is the greatest beauty, but by this case, it is fully believed that having courage is the significant beauty which lasts forever.

The landmark case of Laxmi vs. Union of India and ors[1]. whereby filing a PIL before the Supreme court which took a great turn for the survivor of acid attack victims who have been facing physical and mental anguish which affected their lives deeply. This case breather all notion of believing a myth that women are the weaker gender and the deep-rooted pattern of society to treat women as material. It is to state the society that Justitia nemini neganda est and the laws of the state are equal for all.

This case is set on an acid attack victim, Laxmi, who filed a PIL in 2006, a minor of 16 years of age, an acid attack survivor who underwent mental and physical pain too. The acid was thrown on her face because she denied marrying a man named Naeem khan who grievously hurt her by doing such an offence accompanied by two other co-accused in new Delhi. As her upper body suffered a lot and was fully damaged, she could not get herself recovered back to the former position.

She filed a criminal case by charging for an attempt to murder against all accused who were confined by Delhi High Court, who was later on released on bail by the Apex court of Appeal. The event runs into drain all the efforts of the victim in order to subject them for prosecution in the present case, aggrieved by the inappropriate order passed by the Delhi High court.

This impugned order so conceded by the Delhi high court compelled the victim to file the present PIL {Public interest litigation} before the Apex court of India for prohibiting the easy availability of acid in the market, introducing amendment in the current laws on the acid attack which may result into death of the victim, insertion of provisions on victim Compensation scheme, proper health care facilities to be provided on urgent basis (free health care services) and rehabilitation to the victims.

  1. To make strict laws and sentence by making significant amendment in the Penal Code[2] and Procedural law[3] relating to acid attack offence
  2. To completely prohibit the vending of acid and its distribution in the shops to prevent easy availability.
  3. To reintegrate and recompense the victim of acid attack survivor.

Arguments Advanced

Contentions Of The Petitioner (Lakshmi)

The Petitioner contended that such crime of throwing acid advent from the easy availability of acid bottles and containers from the market which makes it easy to commit such a severe offence. The range of price for buying the acid bottle is from Rs.30 to Rs.40, even while buying the bottle no one asks about the reason behind buying such dangerous acid which could destroy a person's life forever. The only way to prevent this offence is to halt such material in the market that is to completely prohibit the distribution of the sale of acid and its several other forms.

The laws of the state are all meant to regulate the people. The rules and regulations, the norms, and the punishments for a wrong done to another person are all covered in the facet of law. The state should ensure that the laws are to be up to date and to provide reasonable punishments for each and every offence.

For the victim who suffered mental trauma and physical pain after the commission of the brutal offence, with the hope to get her face back which was destroyed by the acid attackers, it is tragic to see that in our country for such offence there are no separate laws which could provide punishments to such accused and justice to the acid attack survivors rather than opting for section 307 of the Indian Penal Code to punish accused of his wrongdoing, it is the need for the society to provide significant amendments in the penal code[4] and procedural law[5]. This is an egregious crime that should not be dealt with generalized laws but to be dealt with separate laws.

The petitioner also urged for the treatment of victims to be free of charge and to provide compensation for the acid attack survivors.

Contentions Of The Respondent (Union Of India)

It was asserted by the learned solicitor general that the central government will put the criterion regulations into effect. The regulations for the distribution of acid and its other forms will be covered under the Poison act[6] to all the state and union territories. Also, the regulations will include other forms of acid and its distributions in the various private and government sectors, it will also regulate the authorization and permission for the distribution of the acid in the market. It was contended that the punishments for such an offence under The poison act will be non-cognizable and non-bailable.

Vitality Of The Judgement

The bench was headed by two judges, the conclusion of the above contentions oversaw to various directions which provided guidelines for the advancement and development of laws relating to acid attack offences. After this finding, it considered previous cases relating to the same offence where all reports were prepared, and the graphical representation was created to know the commission of the same offence in different states.

The crucial step from this case is the amendment in the laws for acid attack offence in the Penal code by insertion section 326A and 326B relating to the laws and punishment of throwing acid offence and in Crpc section 357A and 357C was inserted which provides compensation to the acid attack survivors and treatment of acid attack victims to be free of cost in both public and private sector of hospitals.

Various schemes were introduced for the victim and the Apex court-ordered to provide for least recompense to the acid attack sufferers of Rs. 3,00,000. The additional right provided to the acid attack victims is to get treatment from any hospital without any expenses.

It is to be considered that earlier the act of committing the offence of acid attack was covered under the ambit of grievous hurt under section 320 of IPC but after this judgment, it provided light to those survivors who have been suffering from so many years due to lack of separate laws and social orders.

The laws which were inserted in the form of provisions for prosecuting the culprits were highly absurd, a loophole that exists in the society one or another way hampered the concept of equity and good conscience. The reality of suffering the pain of acid and the impact of such an offence on the life of an individual is a much deeper concept than the meaning of grievous hurt as mentioned in IPC.

Therefore, there was a dire necessity to provide the laws, particularly for such odious offence. The victims of acid attack survivors breathed a sigh of relief after seeing this judgment and directions from the Apex court. This judgment set a precedent for other contingencies which may arise further.

Earlier, due to lack of provisions on punishment for acid attack, the victim has had no remedy left but was compelled to bring his case within the ambit of section 307 of IPC (Attempt to commit Murder) with respect to prosecuting the accused with higher punishment which could not be done under section 326A and 326B , where having been unable to prove the injuries that could lead to the death of the victim extinguish their hope of attaining justice from the court.

After this decision various cases as Parivartan Kendra & Anr vs. U.O.I [7], Shabana Khatun vs. State of West Bengal & Ors[8], State of Orissa vs. Ajam[9], Raja vs. State of Haryana[10] followed by further cases were considered by the Apex Court with the greater intensity of seriousness towards the offence caused to the victims. It changed the whole scenario of seeing the acid attack cases because of the amendment in laws.

Application Of Schools Of Jurisprudence

Applicability Of Realistic School Of Jurisprudence

Introducing new laws by the judgment of Apex court initiated the applicability of Realistic school of jurisprudence into effect. The realistic school of jurisprudence involves the relationship of law with the judge, it analyses laws in action. The realistic school of law focuses on the reasoning behind such judgment, its types, and forms of the judgment delivered by the judge.

It also concentrates on the contributing factors behind such judgment. The realistic school of law is The creation of new laws by way of judgement.
The realistic school was developed in:
  1. America
  2. Europe

It involved the formation of two questions:
  1. The role of judges in the making of law.
  2. Doctrine of precedent (the judgement of higher hierarchy of courts to be followed by the inferior courts as precedents)

Contributors Behind The School Of American Realism

  1. John Gray
  2. Oliver Wendell Holmes
  3. Jerome Frank
  4. Llewellyn

This is to be considered that John Gray and Oliver Wendell Holmes are the father of realistic school of law. According to John Gray, while understanding the laws delivered from the judgement by the judges, there are various factors that affect the a decision such as political theories, economic theories, and personal qualities. On the other hand, Holmes provided that law not only involves logic but also experience behind passing such judgement.

Jerome Frank, the propounder of the American school of jurisprudence provided that certainty of law is a legal myth, there is no certainty of predicting that for such wrongdoing only the particular punishment would be given for an offence. It is to be considered that the precedent should not be followed blindly but from the case by case basis construction of new laws are to be introduced.

Whereas, Llewellyn believes that law is a form of the institution with means to society end and the law should be in parallel with the society for the betterment of its future.
Considering the above way of interpreting realistic school of jurisprudence, it is crystal clear that the situations where earlier there were no laws for a particular offence as relied on the case of acid attack victims, the judgement introduced new laws for the betterment of society and also passed various orders so that the laws will be in flux with the society.

Referring to the Jerome view that the precedents are not to be followed blindly but from the case by case basis new laws can be made via judgements. Therefore, the applicability of realistic school of law, in this case, is reasonable.

Applicability Of Sociology School Of Jurisprudence

The Sociology School of Jurisprudence initiates the relationship of law with society. This school doesn't recognize law in isolation, it considers the law as a Social Phenomenon as each and every law is directly related to the impact on society. One of the jurists named Ehlrich provided that the main source of law comes from the society and the society means Men in Association.

It provided a term Living Law which means that the individuals who are interacting with each other and whatever relations they are maintaining with each other are all affected by the law, elaborating the context further, he provided that the Centre of gravity of all legal development is not in legislation or Judicial Decisions But in Society Itself.

The Sociology school of Jurisprudence involves social solidarity and social awareness with the help of society. Referring to the case of LGBTQ[11], Transgender case[12], or Gang rape case[13] followed by other cases, the laws were made for the social interest of people, where the laws were developed from society. This is to be considered that the sociology school of jurisprudence carries the Historical school of jurisprudence effectively.

The above decision of acid attack case is initiated for the general will of the people where the interest of the society was recognized, and laws were made through Judicial Decision with the help of society. To create general awareness the amendment in laws were made for the acid attack survivors.

Therefore, from the above submission, it is unambiguous that the applicability of two schools are reasonable. The case of acid attack involves amendments in-laws which is covered under the Realistic School of Law and the laws were made for the betterment of society, referring to the interpretation of Ehlrich from the Sociology school of Jurisprudence that laws are made with the help of society, similarly, in the case of acid attack survivors the amendment of laws were made for the society and the interest of the society is considered in the current preview of the matter, like the urge of the petitioner, was also considered by the judges for the prohibition and easy availability of such harsh materials in the markets also considering their claim for compensation for the victims of acid attack sufferers. The initiative from the judgement was directly related to law with society. Hence, this case involves the combination of both schools.

  1. 2014 SCC 4 42
  2. The Indian Penal Code, 1860
  3. The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
  4. Supra
  5. Supra
  6. 1991
  7. SCC On 7 December 2015
  8. SCC 28th February 2014
  9. SCC 12 June 2017
  10. SCC 28 May 2019
  11. Navtej Singh Johar vs. Union of India SCC (6 September 2018)
  12. National Legal Service Authority vs. U.O.I SCC (Writ Petition Civil No. 400, 2012)
  13. State vs. Ram Singh & Anr.SCC 2012

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