Law fails victims of acid attacks

Experts call for separate legislation, jail for life

Victims of acid attack not only struggle to survive but also face hardship in getting justice against those who make their lives miserable.

Experts and lawyers said their are loopholes in legislation which makes this difficult.

“There is no specific offence called an acid attack in Indian law. It is taken as causing harm or hurt and a maximum of two-year punishment is given for it,” said lawyer Colin Gonsalves of the human rights law network.

Tuba Tabassum, the 15-year-old acid attack victim from Siwan, Bihar, came to Safdarjung hospital in a critical condition. She lost an eye and had burns all over the body.

“Sometimes, accused pours one full jug of acid on a victim and at times on her head. Why should these not be treated as attempt to murder,” said Gonsalves.

“The accused should be booked under sections 302 (murder) or 307 (attempt to murder).”

He said an acid attack should be treated as a separate offence amounting to life imprisonment and an appropriate compensation to be ensured to the victim.

“The victim is given a paltry sum of Rs 3 to 5 lakh as compensation. Judges, case after case, only ask for this much from the accused while the reconstructive surgery after burns takes nearly Rs 10 lakh,” said Gonsalves.

An official in the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) said they are pushing for adeq-uate compensation from state governments, but not much progress has been made so far.

Gonsalves said the state should take the responsibility to provide financial help to the victim. “It is due to the failure of law and order that such incidents happen.

The government should release funds to victims till the compensation is paid,” he said.
The NCPCR official added that the changes are required not only in the criminal law, but in how we look at victims of revenge.

“Where the intention is permanent damage to the victim, law should take into cognizance the motive behind such acts,” said the official.

Even if the accused is a juvenile, there has to be some special provisions that punish him according to the gruesomeness of the act, he added.

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