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Law on Acid Attacks in India

Acid attack is a form of violence against women, where the perpetrator splashes a person or object with acid in order to deface or kill them. It is one of the gruesome forms of attack on the human body. Earlier there was no law which specifically deals with the cases of acid attacks. There was no special section in the Indian Penal Code dealing with acid attacks. Section 326 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with causing grievous hurt by throwing of a corrosive substance etc. is insufficient/ inadequate to deal with the issue. So, the section 326 of the Indian Penal Code was not so effective in dealing with this heinous form of crime.

The Law Commission of India in its 226th report submitted in 2008 recommended for the inclusion of acid attacks as specific offences in the Indian Penal Code and a law for compensation for victims of crime. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 made grievous hurt by throwing acid and its attempt punishable by inserting new sections 326 A and 326 B.

Section 326 A of Indian Penal Code reads, “Whoever causes permanent or partial damage or deformity to, or bums 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.”

The first explanation to section 326 B says that, “For the purposes of section 326A and section 326B, “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.

So, the Section 326 A in the Indian Penal Code lays down the punishment for acid throwing. The minimum punishment is 10 years imprisonment. It can extend up to life imprisonment with fine. The Section 326 B in the Indian Penal Code lays down the punishment for attempted acid throwing. The minimum punishment is 5 years imprisonment. It can extend up to 7 years imprisonment with fine.

Compensation for the Victim

In Delhi Domestic Working Women’s Forum vs. Union of India (1995) I SCC 14, the Supreme Court had pronounced upon the need by the government to setup a Criminal Injuries Compensation Board for rape victims within 6 months. The Supreme Court had suggested that this board should give compensation whether or not a conviction takes place. The Supreme Court explained the justification for this proposal as -

“It is necessary, having regard to the Directive Principles contained under Article 38(I) of the Constitution of India to setup Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. Rape victims frequently incur substantial financial loss. Some, for example are too traumatized to continue in employment.

Compensation for victims should be awarded by the court on conviction of the offender and by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board whether or not a conviction takes place. The board will take into account pain, suffering and shocks as well as loss of earnings due to pregnancy and the expenses of the child but if this occurred as a result of the rape.”

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