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Increase compensation for acid attack victims in India

acid attack victims

Introduction

The Supreme Court in its recent Judgment increased the compensation of an acid attack victim. The bench consisting of Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice Ajay Rastogi gave the judgment. It directed the two convicts to pay Rs. 1, 50,000 each to the victim. The matter came to the court in an appeal made in the consequence of the High Court’s order.

Facts of the Case of Acid Attack

Ishita was going to college when two boys came on a scooter and threw some acid over her from a jug and run away from the spot. A resident of the locality saw her crying with burn injuries and later jumping into the water tank nearby.
The Trial Court convicted them for the offence under Section 307/34 IPC and sentenced them to undergo rigorous imprisonment of 10 years with a fine of Rs. 5,000 each. However, partly allowing the appeal, the High Court held that the offence under Section 307/34 IPC was not made out and converted the offence from Section 307/34 IPC to Section 326 IPC and sentenced them for a period of 5 years rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs. 25,000 each. The State appealed against the High Court order.

The Judgment of the High Court

The trial court convicted the offenders under Section 307/34 of IPC. It sentenced them for 10 years imprisonment with a fine of Rs. 5,000 each. The High Court convicted the offenders under Section 326 of IPC and sentenced them rigorous imprisonment for 5 years and a fine of Rs. 25,000 each. The state has filed an appeal to the Apex Court as the compensation was low with regard to the injury suffered by the victim. The Apex court after reviewing the High Court’s judgment increased the compensation amount.

Comment of the Apex Court

The Supreme Court in the case of State of Himachal Pradesh & Anr. V. Vijay Kumar Alias Pappu & Anr.[1] Said after reviewing the judgment of the High Court, “the victim had suffered an uncivilized and heartless crime committed by the respondents and there is no room for leniency which can be conceived. A crime of this nature does not deserve any kind of clemency. This Court cannot be oblivious of the situation that the victim must have suffered emotional distress which cannot be compensated either by sentencing the accused or by the grant of any compensation.”

The Judgment of the court

The court relied on the precedent for the judgment. In-State of H.P. Vs. Rampal[2] use of victim compensation scheme is there and this Court opined that compensation of Rs. 40,000/­ was inadequate. The court took the note of the fact that the life of young child aged 20 years was lost and taking reference of the precedents it observed that in the interest of justice, the accused shall pay a sum of Rs. 1 lakh and the State shall pay Rs. 3 lakhs as compensation.

The court further said that “Taking note of the precedents of which reference has been made, we consider it appropriate to observe that both the accused shall pay the additional compensation of Rs. 1,50,000/­ (Rupees One Lakh and Fifty Thousand) each and the State of Himachal Pradesh shall pay the compensation as admissible under the Victim Compensation Scheme to the acid victim (Ishita Sandhu, D/o Late Shri Rikhi Ram Sandhu). If the accused does not pay the compensation amount of Rs. 1,50,000/­ (Rupees One Lakh and Fifty Thousand) each within six months, the defaulting accused shall suffer rigorous imprisonment of six months.”

Conclusion

The Apex Court said the compensation under such heinous crimes is not sufficient enough. These include several other factors like emotional and sentimental. Proper compensation must be provided. Disbursement regarding such trauma though not sufficient must also be provided. The acid victims suffer a lot of pain mental as well as emotional. These cases are of serious nature and sufficient disbursement is not possible. The state shall make provisions in the victim compensation scheme to provide a better benefit to the victim. The court regarding the effect of the judgment said that the State shall deposit the compensation before the trial Court within three months from today and the learned trial Court, after proper identification of the victim, disburse as soon as possible.

[1] Criminal Appeal no. 753 of 2010.

[2] 2015(11) SCC 584.

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by Gargi Sharma

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