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Monday, October 14, 2013

ACID ATTACKS AND THE LAW


ACID ATTACKS AND THE LAW
Since no special section in the Indian Penal Code deals with acid attacks, the incidents are not even recorded separately. Section 326 of the I.P.C, which deals with causing grievous hurt by throwing of a corrosive substance etc. is insufficient/ inadequate to deal with the issue. Firstly, the definition of grievous hurt is not broad enough to cover the various kinds of injuries which are inflicted during acid attacks. Secondly, the section does not cover the act of administering acid. Thirdly, the section gives a wide discretion to the courts as far as punishment is concerned. The cases on acid attacks in India show that normally inadequate punishment is awarded in these cases. Fourthly, the section in the I.P.C does not punish the intentional act of throwing of acid if no injuries occur. Lastly, the section also does not specify who the fine should be awarded to. We also feel that if a person has thrown or administered the acid on another person a presumption should be raised against the person, who has thrown or administered the acid, that he has done so deliberately.

ACID ATTACKS - A GHASTLY CRIME

Apart from the above we feel that the distribution and sale of Acid should be banned except for commercial and scientific purposes. Acid should be made a scheduled banned chemical which should not be available over the counter. The particulars of purchasers of acid should be recorded. We have also examined the various laws in different countries relating to compensation for criminal injuries. While the U.K Act provides for the setting up of a scheme, the Canadian statute sets up a Criminal Injuries Compensation Board to dispense compensation to victims of violence. The suggestion of the National Commission for Women for setting up a board specifically for acid victims has also been examined by us. We however feel that since not only victims of acid attacks but other victims of different crimes also need compensation for rehabilitation, like victims of rape, a law should be enacted to set in place Criminal Injuries Compensation Boards at the Centre, State and District levels in our country.

1. We therefore propose that a new section 326A be added to the Indian Penal Code. The proposed Section 326 A will read as  follows-

326 A. (i) Hurt by acid attack- Whoever 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 administering acid to that person, with the intention of causing or with the knowledge that he is likely to cause such injury or hurt, shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description which shall not be less than 10 years but which may extend to life and with fine which may extend to Rs. 10 Lakhs. Provided that any fine levied under this section shall be given to the person on whom acid has been thrown or administered.

CLASSIFICATION OF OFFENCE

Minimum Imprisonment of 10 years extendable upto imprisonment for life and fine–cognizable– non-bailable—triable by court of session—noncompoundable. (ii) Intentionally throwing or administering acid- Whoever throws acid on, or administers acid to, any person with the intention of causing burns or maiming or disfiguring or disabling or causing grievous hurt to that person shall be liable to imprisonment of either description for a term not less than 5 years but which may extend to 10 years and with fine which may extend to Rs. 5 Lakh.

CLASSIFICATION OF OFFENCE

1. Minimum Imprisonment of 5 years extendable upto 10 years and fine– cognizable– non-bailable—triable by court of session—noncompoundable.

2. We further propose, for the reasons stated above, that in cases of acid attack a presumption be incorporated in the Indian Evidence Act as Section 114B. The proposed Section 114B of the Indian Evidence Act shall read as under.

Section 114 B: Presumption as to acid attack-If a person has thrown  acid on, or administered acid to, another person the court shall presume that such an act has been done with the intention of causing, or with the knowledge that such an act is likely to cause such hurt or injury as is mentioned in Section 326 A of the Indian Penal Code.

3. We propose that a law known as “Criminal Injuries Compensation Act” be enacted as a separate Law by the government . This law should provide both interim and final monetary compensation to victims of certain acts of violence like Rape, Sexual Assault, Acid Attacks etc. and should provide for their medical and other expenses relating to rehabilitation, loss of earnings etc. Any compensation already received by the victim can be taken into account while computing compensation under this Act.

4. We further recommend that the distribution and sale of acid be strictly regulated and the sale of Acid across shop counters be banned.

(As described in the report of justice AR. Lakshmanan, the Chairman, Law Commission of India)