Law Against Acid Attacks

By Team Legal Helpline India, December 3, 2017

Acid attack is the worst form of brutal crime on the earth which not only leaves scars on the skin of the victim but also violates the basic human rights of the victim. The victim of acid attack hardly comes out of the trauma. It is a recent form of crime in India on which the government has taken stern steps to curb. The measures to restrict and regulate the sale of acid has been taken, besides that stringent punishment for the criminals has been contemplated so as to deter the criminal attempts to violate the human rights of the victim. The Law Commission has taken suo moto view of the contentions raised in Writ Petition (Crl) NO. 129/2006 filed by one acid attack victim and submitted its recommendations to the following effect:

Conclusion and Recommendations:

The preceding chapters highlight that acid attacks are an increasing phenomenon in India. However, 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.

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 Center, 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-bailabletriable by court of sessionnoncompoundable.

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

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.
(Justice AR. Lakshmanan)
Chairman, Law Commission of India

The Government of India took the matter too seriously and passed the amendments in all the relevantm provisions of law including the Indian Penal Code which are as under: Indian Penal Code was amended on the 2nd of April 2013 with the passing of ‘ The CRIMINAL Law (Amendment) Act. 2013. The amendment resulted in insertion of sections 326A and 326B for specifically dealing with acid violence. The new Sections 326A and 326B read as follows :
326A. 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 victim.

326B. 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
Compensation for acid attack

Section 357B has been newly inserted in Cr PC which reads as :
“The compensation payable by the State Government under section 357A shall be in addition to the payment of fine to the victim under section 326A or section 376D of the Indian Penal Code.”
Free Medical Treatment

357C has been newly inserted whereby all hospitals,public or private are required to provide first aid or medical treatment free of cost. The section reads as:
“All hospitals, public or private, whether run by the Central Government, the State 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 section 326A, 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D or section 376E of the Indian Penal Code and shall immediately inform the police of such incident.”

Self Defence
The right of self defence has been extended to cover apprehension of grievous hurt by acid attack

Earlier existing provisions under Section 100 of Indian Penal Code:

Section 100: The right of private defence of the body extends, under the restrictions mentioned in the last preceding section, to the voluntary causing of death or of any other harm to the assailant, if the offence which occasions the exercise of the right be of any of the descriptions hereinafter enumerated, namely :–
Firstly-Such an assault as may reasonably cause the apprehension that death will otherwise be the consequence of such assault;
Secondly-Such an assault as may reasonably cause the apprehension that grievous hurt will otherwise be the consequence of such assault;
Thirdly-An assault with the intention of committing rape;
Fourthly-An assault with the intention of gratifying unnatural lust;
Fifthly-An assault with the intention of kidnapping or abducting;
Sixthly-An assault with the intention of wrongfully confining a person, under circumstances which may reasonably cause him to apprehend that he will be unable to have recourse to the public authorities for his release.

It is hoped that the menace will be curbed by such stringent measures and the society will get rid of such horrific instances of inhuman conduct by one human being against the other human being.

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