Justice 11 years later, but scars remain

When victim of acid attack Dr Mahalaxmi lay on the bed of a private hospital on January 11, 2001, her skin was seething and folding into the facial muscles.

A few of her sensory organs had already died. Yet, the police were meandering over the geographical ‘area’ of crime and had not registered the case since they couldn’t arrive at a decision on that.

Exactly eleven years later, a landmark judgement by the Karnataka High Court, government medical practitioner Dr Mahalaxmi’s face has never been brighter, and her lustrous mane bearing a faint remainder of what a beauty she was, before a man turned into beast and ruined it for her.

Her tormentor Chikkabasavaiah, a man close to his 60s now, has been awarded three years rigorous imprisonment and Rs 20,000 penalty.

This came at the end of eleven years of ordeal -- five years in the lower court and six years at the High Court.

The Lower court had acquitted Chikkabasavaiah of the crime, giving him the benefit of doubt.

Happy with the verdict

Speaking with Deccan Herald, a visibly elated Dr Mahalaxmi said  ‘justice is finally done’ and that she was ‘happy with the judgement of the High Court.’

Dr Mahalaxmi’s life went on a roller-coaster ride after Chikkabasavaiah, her former landlord, threw acid on her. She was just 26 then.

“I vacated the portion of the house I rented from Chikkabasavaiah at JP Nagar, because he would come and sit in my clinic, for no rhyme or reason. He was clearly making advances to me and I was worried,” she recollects.

After vacating the premises, she asked her ex-landlord to return the money she had given him as deposit. She had to approach police against Chikkabasavaiah for refusing to refund the money.

The inevitable happened. Her former landlord emptied a bottle of acid which seared her face. “Being a doctor, I instantly knew he had caused some harm,” she says.

Long battle

A young boy barely five years old, his mother and an auto driver took her to an hospital. She lost an eye and a ear, but prepared herself for a long battle.

This graduate from Mysore Medical College took to studies, kept date with follow-up surgeries, and took up a government job for social security and moved the courts.

“A few organisations kept off my case, but the State government and the media helped a great deal. The State even hired a prosecutor to fight my case.  I just kept faith and kept at it. I have always believed justice can be delayed, but never denied. I feel women should develop the tenacity to fight the long legal battle for their own sake and never give up,” she says.

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