Friday, 25 September 2015

Acid attacks in India – Its causes, solution and legal provisions

Acid attack, a vitriol attack or vitriolage, is a form of violent assault defined as the act of throwing acid or a similarly corrosive substance onto the body of another with the intention to disfigure, maim, torture, or kill. It never kills but devastates the sufferer’s life mentally, morally, physically and financially.
Acid attacks have a catastrophic effect on human flesh and vital organs. In most of these attacks, hydrochloric and sulphuric acid are used. These corrosive substances cause the skin tissue to melt. The bones of the victims become exposed and, sometimes, the acid dissolves the bones too. Furthermore, if acid enters the eyes of the victim during an attack, as is common in acid attack cases, it damages these vital organs permanently. Many acid attack survivors have lost one or both eyes. As a result of disfigurement and disability, the victims are permanently debilitated and are forced to give up their public lives, work and education.

Main causes are of acid attacks are:
1.  Family disputes; domestic violence; relationship conflicts
2.  Refusal of indecent proposals or unacceptable propositions
3.  Land or money disputes; business conflicts
4.  Vengefulness and status jealousy
5.  Suspicion of infidelity
6.  Theft or robbery
7.  Mistaken identity; accidental; collateral
8.  Sex crimes, rape, and sodomy

Law in India relating to acid attacks
The law relating to acid attacks was inserted in Indian Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure by The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013. Provisions inserted by it are:-

Section 326A of Indian Penal Code, 1860 - Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by use of acid, etc. -
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.

Section 326B of Indian Penal Code, 1860 -  Voluntarily throwing or attempting to throw acid - 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.
Explanation 1 —For the purposes of section 326A and this section, “acid” includes any substance which has acidic or corrosive character or burning nature, that is capable of causing bodily injury leading to scars or disfigurement or temporary or permanent disability.
Explanation 2 — For the purposes of section 326A and this section, permanent or partial damage or deformity shall not be required to be irreversible.

Section 357B of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 - 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.

Section 357C of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 - 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.
Also as per newly added seventh clause to section 100 of Indian Penal Code the right of private defence of the body extends to the voluntary causing of death or of any other harm to the assailant in case of an act of throwing or administering acid or an attempt to throw or administer acid which may reasonably cause the apprehension that grievous hurt will otherwise be the consequence of such act.

The Solution:
To eradicate acid violence, governments must address its root causes: gender inequality and discrimination, the availability of acid, and the impunity of perpetrators.
In furtherance of their duty to exercise due diligence to prevent acid violence, governments should:
1. Enact criminal laws that specifically address acid violence and effectively regulate the production, distribution, use, sale, and handling of acid;
2. Effectively enforce and implement laws designed to deter acid violence; and
3. Provide redress to victims, including compensation for healthcare costs.

Role of Companies: In furtherance of their emerging duty to exercise due diligence to minimize the negative human rights impacts of their activities, companies that produce, distribute, use, or otherwise handle acid should:
1. Assess the ways in which they can reduce the negative human rights impacts of their activities; and
2. Support industry and government efforts to regulate the safe-handling, storage, labeling, transfer, and disposal of acid by manufacturers, distributors, and other business and individual users of acid in order to deter the unauthorized use of acid.


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