The National Crime Records Bureau reported a staggering increase as the number
of cases between 2014 and 2018 was 1483 women. Acid attack is a form of
gender-based violence against women in which a person usually throws rusty acid
on her face to seriously injure her and disrupt her socio-economic life.
usually done to avenge the rejection of sexual promotions, affair proposals,
etc., in case of domestic violence it is managed by the husband or in-laws
seeking dowry, or to show their superiority. According to Acid Survivors Trust
International, there are 15,000 cases worldwide and 80% of them involve women as
a sex offender. In those cases, the target men are usually the cause of such
serious damage to property disputes in India.
The National Crime Records Bureau
released a report in 2018 stating that 228 cases of acid attack were reported in
India. However, the actual number of cases is likely to exceed 1000 but it was
not reported due to fear.
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 made special provisions for victims of
acid attack by inserting Section 326A and Section 326B in the Indian Penal Code,
1860. Offenders convicted under these sections shall be liable to imprisonment
for a term not exceeding ten years with a fine which may extend to life
imprisonment; That penalty should cover the medical expenses incurred by the
Section 326A of the Indian Penal Code provides for punishment for acid attack.
The minimum sentence is 10 years in prison. It can extend to life imprisonment
with a fine. A separate law was passed to punish offenders in such cases with an
amendment to the law on sexual offenses. Such laws have long been demanded by
various sections of society to be consistent with the laws of other countries,
such as Bangladesh.
Explanation Of 326a:
326A: which causes permanent or partial damage or deformity to any part or parts
of the body of a person, or burns or cripples or disables or causes serious
injury by throwing acid on or throwing acid on or using that person. By any
other means or knowing that he is likely to cause such injury or harm, he shall
be punished with imprisonment of any description not less than ten years but
which may extend to life imprisonment. And with fines:
However, such a penalty would be fair and just to cover the medical costs of the
It is further provided that any penalty imposed under this section will be paid
to the victim.
. For the purposes of this section, "acid" includes any substance
having an acidic or damaged character or burning nature, capable of inflicting
bodily injury which leads to scarring or deformity or temporary or permanent
For the purposes of this section, permanent or partial damage
or distortion does not have to be reversible.
Section 326B of the Indian Penal Code provides for punishment for attempted acid
attack. The minimum sentence is 5 years in prison. He could face up to 7 years
in prison with a fine. A separate law was passed to punish the offenders in such
cases with an amendment to the law on sexual offenses.
Explanation Of 326b:
Anyone who throws or attempts to throw acid at any person or attempts to
give acid to any person or attempts to use any other means, permanent partial
damage or burn disorder or disability or deformity or disability or severe
person Injury will be punishable by imprisonment for any description not less
than five years, but up to seven years and may be punishable by a fine.
. For the purposes of section 326A and this section, "acid"
includes any substance which is acidic or decaying or burns, capable of
inflicting bodily injury which may lead to scarring or deformity or temporary or
permanent disability. Goes.
Section 326A and for the purposes of this section, permanent or
partial damage or distortion does not have to be reversible.
- Throwing/attempting to throw/administering acid
- Causing grievous hurt
- Causes permanent or partial damage (burns, maims, disfigures or disables)
This offence is a cognizable and non-bailable offence.
Compensation Under Crpc:
The heinous crime of acid attack is prosecuted not only by the IPC and the
Indian Evidence Act but also by the relevant provisions of the CrPC. These
provisions are contained in Section 375A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)
and contain six important sub-sections.
Sub-section (1) urges state governments to draw up schemes which provide
compensation to the victims of acid attack who are in need of rehabilitation.
This should be done under the guidance of the Central Government.
Sub-section (2) indicates that under the recommendation of the court, the
District Legal Services Authority or the State Legal Services Authority
(depending on the case) may determine the amount of compensation to be provided.
Sub-section (3) states that in the discretion of the court, if the compensation
for the rehabilitation of the victim appears unsatisfactory, or in the case of
acquittal or acquittal of the accused, the court may still recommend the
Sub-section (4) further discusses the rights granted to victims. He talks about
cases where the alleged culprit cannot be traced or absconded, but can be
identified. In such a case, the victim may make a written request seeking
compensation from the state or district legal services authority.
Sub-section (5) further discusses the proper exercise of the rights specified in
sub-section (4). It authorizes the state or district legal services authority to
allow compensation to the victim after conducting a proper investigation.
Finally, sub-section (6) provides that the state or district legal services
authority should endeavor to provide free medical treatment to the victim,
provided that the victim succeeds in obtaining a certificate from a police
officer not less than the area magistrate.
Further Section 357B of the CrPC specifies that the compensation referred to in
the preceding section shall be in addition to the compensation already provided
under section 326A and section 326B of the IPC. Section 357C of the CrPC
commands all hospitals to provide free emergency first aid treatment to any type
of victim (local, public, private, etc.).
Victims Of An Acid Attack In India Say A New Law Banning Sales Is Being Ignored:
December 5, 2013: In this photo, acid attack victims, left, Lakshmi, 24,
Chanchal, 19 and Sonam, 16, New Delhi, India, communicate at the office of
Indian NGO Stop Acid Attacks. Victims of the acid attack are pushing the Indian
government to do more to prevent such violence, saying the new law is being
ignored in order to ban the sale of dangerous drugs. Highly concentrated acids
are readily available in India for use as household and industrial cleaners.
Treatment And Consequences:
When the acid touches the skin, the response time is crucial. If washed with
water or deactivated immediately, burns can be reduced or avoided altogether.
However, unprotected areas through the skin, such as the cornea of the eye or
the lips, can burn immediately upon contact.
Many victims are attacked in an area without immediate access to water, or are
unable to see due to being blind, or are forced to close their eyes to prevent
additional burns to the eye. In many developing countries where the incidence is
higher, treatment for burn victims remains inadequate.
In addition to inadequate medical capabilities, many acid attack victims fail to
report to the police due to a lack of confidence in the force, feelings of
frustration over the release of the attacker, and fear of retaliation by the
These problems are exacerbated by a lack of knowledge of how to treat burns:
Some sufferers have applied oil to the acid instead of rinsing it thoroughly
with water for 30 minutes or more to neutralize the acid. Such home remedies
only serve to increase the severity of the damage, as they do not counteract
Motivation For Perpetrators:
The intent of the attacker is often to insult rather than kill the victim. In
Britain, such attacks, especially against men, are considered to be
under-reported, and as a result many of them do not appear in official
Some of the common motivations of criminals include
- Personal conflicts related to intimate relationships and sexual
- Sexual-related jealousy and lust.
- Revenge of denial of sexual advances, marriage proposals and dowry
- Gang violence and hostility.
- Disputes over land ownership, farm animals, habitat and property.
Acid attack often occurs as revenge against a woman who refuses a marriage
proposal or sexual advance. Gender inequality and the status of women in
society, in relation to men, play an important role in such attacks.
Individuals are also attacked based on their religious beliefs or social or
political activities. These attacks can be targeted at a specific person because
of their activities or against random individuals simply because they are part
of a social group or community.
Important Case Laws:
Lakshmi Vs. Union of India
Lakshmi Vs. Union of India (2015)
deals with a girl, Lakshmi who was just 16
years old when she suffered an acid attack. The reason for the attack was the
refusal of the marriage proposal. Lakshmi was courageous, and in 2006 she filed
a PIL in the Supreme Court of India where in addition to seeking compensation,
she also sought to enact new laws and amend any law relating to acid attacks in
India. She called on the general public to impose a complete ban on the sale of
acid in the markets.
The apex court ruled in its favour and directed the
governments at the central and state levels to enact legislation after due
deliberation and deliberation. Seeing that the governments were not complying
with the matter, the Supreme Court took the matter into its own hands and issued
guidelines. According to the guidelines, acid should not be sold to anyone under
the age of majority i.e. under 18 years of age. Proof of photo identity was
mandatory for those wishing to purchase acid.
PiyaliDatta Vs. State of West Bengal
In the case law, PiyaliDatta v. West Bengal State (2017)
Piyali Dutta filed an
application in the High Court as she did not get any compensation despite
appealing to the Chief Secretary for compensation after she suffered an acid
attack. The West Bengal Legal Services Authority took up the matter and argued
that the provisions in CrPC as well as IPC were introduced after her acid attack
in 2005 and therefore, she should not be eligible for any compensation. The High
Court passed the order in her favour and asked the authority to pay her
Case Law: State v. AnkurPanwar (2019)
is related to a 23-year-old nurse working
in a hospital in Mumbai. She was approached by the accused for marriage but she
turned it down as she wanted to establish her career. He could not handle the
denial and threw acid on her while she was traveling in the train. She
accidentally swallowed a few drops and suffered fatal injuries. She was
hospitalized for a month, but died.
It should be noted that this was a very special case and therefore the hearing
by a special court headed by a woman judge, Justice A.S. Shinde. She was shocked
that the acid attack was so terrible that it resulted in the death of the
victim. Initially, he was sentenced to death under Bangladesh's much-lauded Acid
Crime Suspension Act. The death sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment
with compensation to the victim's parents.
The success of any law is determined by its implementation. Acid attacks are on
the rise even after stricter provisions were introduced in the IPC against it.
Lakshmi Agarwal says, "People say that inner beauty is important, but in
reality, only a few people go beyond physical features."
This is true. Acid
attack survivors face all sorts of consequences. Physical consequences are not
limited to dementia but include other health problems caused by acid fumes.
Socially these people face loneliness, negative gaze, sarcasm and other
comments. The prospect of marriage fades. They cannot work due to disability and
have to depend on others.
Even if they are not disabled, deformities motivate
many not to give them a job. Psychologically, they suffer from Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder (PTSD) and suffer from low self-esteem, depression, anxiety,
lack of hope, etc.
In my opinion, India should take inspiration from the Government of Bangladesh
and introduce similar acts like the Acid Control Act, 2002 and the Acid Crime
Prevention Act, 2002. Some of the main features of these acts are:
- Prohibition on import, export and sale of acid.
- Special fund for victims known as the Acid Attack Council Fund
- Rapid and adequate medical treatment of victims.
- Establishment of rehabilitation centers for victims.
These small changes will go a long way in paving the way for a better life for
the survivors of acid attack victims. Acid is a very readily available substance
and needs immediate regulation. As citizens, it is our collective duty to
eradicate this social evil and to end the stigma attached to this crime for the
good of the survivors. Certain rules need to be enforced to curb the number of
acid attacks in India.
- Arpan Chakroborty (Techno India University) and
- Sohini Seal (Techno India University)
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