25 July 2021 3:40 PM GMT
The Karnataka High Court has said that "acid Attack is a crime against basic human rights and also violates the most cherished fundamental rights guaranteed under Article-21 of the Constitution of India." A division bench of Justice B Veerappa and Justice V Srishananda while confirming sentence of life imprisonment imposed under section 326 (A) of the Indian Penal Code, on one Mahesha...
The Karnataka High Court has said that "acid Attack is a crime against basic human rights and also violates the most cherished fundamental rights guaranteed under Article-21 of the Constitution of India."
A division bench of Justice B Veerappa and Justice V Srishananda while confirming sentence of life imprisonment imposed under section 326 (A) of the Indian Penal Code, on one Mahesha (32) a jilted lover said "The alleged acid attack by the accused on PW.8 (Victim) merely on the ground that, she refused to marry him as her parents did not give consent, the accused cannot treat the victim as slave and pour acid on her face and body. The brutality of the accused shocks the conscious of this Court."
It added "Under the Constitution of India, which is called 'Bhagavad Gita', 'right to life' is the fundamental right guaranteed and it is the fundamental duty of the State to protect it. An 'acid attack' by the accused not only caused physical injuries, but left behind a permanent scar on the most cherished position of PW.8, who is a teacher and PW.3, who is the student studying in 'U' KG since their dignity, honour and reputation are involved. The 'acid attack' is not only a crime against PW.8 and PW.3, but a crime against the entire civilized society."
The court noted that "Great Saint and Scholar of our Country - Swami Vivekananda stated that "the best thermometer to the progress of a nation is its treatment of its women". Therefore, the acid attack by the accused on PW.8 to fulfill his wish to marry her against her will and her parents, is violation of personal liberty as contemplated under Article 21 of the Constitution of India."
Holding the victim's evidence to be reliable, the court said "On record, there is an estimation of expenses involved for reconstructive surgery dated 05.07.2014 issued by the Health Care Service India Private Limited. As per the same, a sum of Rs.22,50,000, was estimated for reconstructive surgery. But the mental scars on victims will remain forever till their death. Therefore, the evidence of the victim is more reliable, which corroborates with the evidence of the other prosecution witnesses."
The court also confirmed the Rs 10 lakh fine imposed by the trial court on the accused which was to be paid to the victim. The court said "The imposition of appropriate punishment is the manner in which the Court responds to the society's cry for justice against such criminals. Justice demands that the Courts should impose punishment befitting the crime so that the Courts reflect public abhorrence of the crime."
It added "The Court must not only keep in view the rights of the criminal, but also the rights of the victim of the crime and the society at large while considering the imposition of appropriate punishment. Taking judicial note that such restorative surgeries cost a fortune and if unfortunately the parents or the relatives of the victim are poor or even from middle class strata, they cannot afford or spend the huge amount and ultimately even after series of surgeries the result would be not fully restoring the damaged face as has been done in the present case. Admittedly, in the present case, the damage caused by the accused throwing acid on the victim is immense, irreparable and cannot be retractable and the victim has to suffer throughout her life. Therefore,the accused is not entitled for any lenience or mercy to be shown.
When a woman is thrown acid on her face, what is inflicted is not merely physical injury but the deep sense of some deathless shame. She has to hide her face to the Society and the victim woman's body is not a plaything and the accused cannot take advantage of it in order to satisfy his avenger and the Society will not tolerate such things any longer. The crimes against women continued in a never ending cycle. As throwing acid on young women or young lady and minor boy is more dangerous than murder and same cannot be tolerated by any father, mother, husband, children of the women etc and society at large. Therefore, it is high time to deal with the criminals/acid attackers with an iron hand."
The court then expressed concern over the increasing number of acid attack cases in India. It said "Over the last decade India is witnessing an alarming growth of acid attacks especially on women. The contributing factors are various for these attacks. "The main problems are social weakness of women in the society and the existence of male dominated society." Moreover, the easy availability of acid in an inexpensive manner makes the perpetrators use this as an ideal weapon against women."
Quoting the figures from the National Crime Record Bureau, on the number of acid attack cases recorded, the bench observed "The case in hand is an example of uncivilized and heartless crime committed by the accused. It is completely unacceptable that the concept of leniency or mercy can be conceived of in such a crime. A crime of this nature does not deserve any kind of clemency. Emphatically one has to say that it is individually as well as collectively intolerable."
Accused Can Be Punished Only Under Section 326 (A) IPC.
While setting aside the life imprisonment handed down by the trial court to the accused under section 307 (attempt to murder) to the court said "Learned Judge failed to note that when there were two sentences and major sentence contemplates life, the other sentence which also contemplates life sentence automatically merges. There cannot be two life sentences though the learned Judge held that the sentence ordered against the accused runs concurrently."
The court held "In case, a person is sentenced for conviction of several offences, including one that of life imprisonment, the proviso to Section 31(2) shall come into play and no consecutive sentence can be imposed. In the instant case, the accused has been convicted for more than one sentence i.e imprisonment for life with fine of Rupees Ten lakhs for the offence punishable under Section 326A of IPC and imprisonment for life with fine of Rs.50,000/- for the offence punishable under Section 307 of IPC with default sentence. It is well settled that a sentence of life imprisonment implies imprisonment till the end of a convict's normal life and it cannot be directed to run consecutively."
It added "The action of the accused can be traced to and punished only under Section 326A of IPC and the said action of the accused cannot be tried and punished under Section 307 of IPC along with Section 326A of IPC."
Finally it said "The offence under section 307 of IPC telescopes into offence under section 326A of IPC. Therefore, the punishment imposed by the learned judge under Section 307 cannot be sustained. However, in view of the dictum of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Muthuramalingam and others vs. The State represented by Inspector of Police reported in AIR 2016 SC 3340, the benefit under section 428 Cr.P.C. is not available, when the court convicts the accused for life imprisonment. Hence, we make it clear that the accused is not entitled to the benefit of set off under Section 428 of Cr.P.C."
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