PARIVARTAN KENDRA V. UNION OF INDIA AND OTHERS
Author: Divya Vishal, NUSRL
|COURT- Supreme Court of India JURISDICTION-Article 32 of the Constitution of India CASE NO.- WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 867 OF 2013 BENCH- M Yusuf Eqbal(J.), Chockalingam Nagappan (J.) APPELLANT-Parivartan Kendra RESPONDENTS-Union of India and others DECIDED ON- 07.12.2015|
Acid attack is the most vindictive form of crime that is turned to and is generally done more specifically towards a gender. While examples of acid attacks are reported in the whole world, yet its recurrence is on ascend in India. The principle reason for the acid attacks is that the person in question, who is commonly a lady will in general reject the proposal or will object lewd gestures of culprits. A dowry conflict is another explanation of such crimes. There are different social, political, or strict religious beliefs that can serve as a reason for it.
The case highlights the deficiency and inadequacy of authoritative measures to manage acid attacks. Parivartan Kendra, a registered NGO had documented and filed a writ petition as Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court of India under its original jurisdiction as Art. 32 of the Indian Constitution to address the predicament of victims of acid attack significantly after its judgment in Laxmi v. Association of India and Ors. (in Writ Petition (Crl.) No.129 of 2006). The Petition also brings into light the legal features like the absence of a legal assurance to free medical facilities, rehabilitative facilities, or satisfactory remuneration under the Survivor Compensation Schemes.
On October 21, 2012; around midnight the victim was attacked by four people while she was sleeping. The delay in her treatment because of hospital administration worsened her condition. The attack disfigured her face completely. The father had acquired expense of Rs. 5 Lakhs in clinical treatment leading him into debts. The family was neglected by the hospital authorities as they belong to the lower caste. Even the police didn’t record the case until pressure was made by media. The culprits were captured one month after the occurrence. Be that as it may, the policed didn’t record any announcement from casualties. After a long battle, her father got compensation of Rs. 3 Lakhs which was lacking to cover the debts. The father of the victim has finally approached the petitioner who filed a writ petition against the culprits under Article 32 of the Constitution of India.
The Supreme Court held that the guidelines issued in the case of Laxmi v. Union of India is adequate except for the aspect of compensation given to the survivor. Rs. 3 Lacs accommodated as compensation for Laxmi’s situation ought to be treated as a minimum amount to be given and states could accommodate more pay according to the requirements and conditions of the case. The court permitted a pay of Rs. 10 Lakhs for Chanchal and Rs. 3 lacs for her younger sister to be paid within a certain period from the date of the ruling. It also ordered the state to make legal provisions for involving acid attack victims in the disability list i.e. the list of disabled people.
BACKGROUND OF THE CASE
The main issue of the case is the way the legal provisions are insufficient for the acid attack victims.
- Legal Provisions related to acid attack offences-
Before 2013, the acid attack cases were normally managed under Section 326 of I.P.C, 1860. Justice Verma Committee suggested that acid attacks be characterized as an offense in the IPC. This lead to the presentation of Section 326A and 326B in IPC. Section 326A and 326B of I.P.C. discusses imprisonment and fine to the perpetrator who voluntarily causes grievous hurt to the victim by using acid. The difference between both the sections is the reason for real injury to the person in question. Under Section 326A the wrongdoer has actually caused injury by harming the victim though under Sec. 326B the accused attempts to throw acid, and is unable to hurt the victim and thereby is unsuccessful in his attempt. Furthermore, Section 357A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, each State is ordered to build up a Victim Compensation Fund. These assets are utilized to remunerate the casualties of acid attacks. The amount of compensation is given and fixed as per the Schemes each state has embraced.
- Judicial Response to acid attack offences-
Preceding Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013, cases of acid attacks were enlisted under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) especially the sections concerned with hurt, grievous hurt by destructive substances, attempt to murder and murder. Compensation was scarcely ever granted to the victims or was of the insufficient amount in case it is given
Balu v. State Represented Inspector of Police
In this case, the accused, husband was ordered by the court to pay a small amount of fine of Rs.2,000/. and imprisonment for throwing acid on the face of his wife. He was charged under Section 302 of I.P.C. The appeal made by the victim was rejected by the Madras High Court. Such a pitiful measure of a fine of just Rs.2, 000 can’t be supposed to be adequate enough as compared to the gravity of the offence he has committed.
Syed Shafique Ahmed v. State of Maharashtra
The accused threw acid on the face of his wife leading to the destruction of her face and vision of the right eye. He was charged under Section 324 and 326 of I.P.C. and had to give a fine of Rs.5000 and imprisonment for 3 years. This shows that the amount of compensation or the punishment is given was not at all proportional to the offence committed.
However, in 2011, Laxmi’s case brought a new approach to the issue of acid attack by bringing changes with respect to punishment, compensation, and management of acids.
Laxmi v. Union of India
In the present case the guidelines of the landmark case, Laxmi v. Union of India which was a remarkable case for the offence of acid attack were reiterated. Laxmi filed a PIL in 2006 in the Supreme Court asking for guidelines for selling and regulation of acid. Besides requesting compensation, she asked for an amendment in current laws dealing with this issue like I.P.C, CrPc.
The Court in 2011 gave the order to all the State Governments to distribute sources for giving pay to survivors of attacks by corrosives with respect to the alteration made to Code of Criminal Procedure under Section 357A. The court held that the Central and the State government should regulate the procedure of sale of acids to the public and the union territories or states where there is not operational, the Chief Secretaries of the concerned place. There was a complete prohibition on selling acid in shops unless there is a record with the seller regarding the proper details of the buyer and the reason for purchasing it. The court further held that the compensation of at least Rs.3 lakhs by the concerned State Government/Union Territory should be given out of which Rs. 1 lac will be paid within 15 days of the offence being brought to the notification of the government and the rest of Rs. 2 lacs will be paid by the state or Union Territory as speedily as could be expected.
In the present case, these guidelines were adhered to except a few changes with respect to the compensation amount.
- Adequacy in reasoning given by Court.
The decision given by the court in the present case is adequate enough as it tries to cover all the aspects of legal provisions related to offence of Acid attacks. The treatment of victims after the attack, their employability, and vigor to live their rest of life with confidence can be recovered by strict provisions for the culprits and regaining their self-esteem to live confidently in the society. The judgment has touched the aspect of compensation which is an important basis for the sufferings of the victim and the family. It has also covered the aspect of the sale of acid and stricter laws for it thereby not making it easily accessible to the public. This will help in lowering the rate of such crimes.
The petitioner, Parivartan Kendra(N.G.O.) took up the case of two young girls in Bihar, who were assaulted around 12 AM of October 21, 2012, by four men who tossed acid on the face and bodies of both the sisters while they were sleeping on the roof of their house. It is contended by the petitioners that these attackers used to tease the elder sister while she was going to work. These attackers used to make lewd gestures towards her, pass indecent remarks, and furthermore used to pull her dupatta. They threatened her and her relatives by wandering close to her home on their bikes and threatened her that if she didn’t notice to their requests and consent to have sexual relations with them they would harm and devastate her face.
While doing an acid attack on the elder sister, the acid also fell on the younger one and damaged her arms. After the assault, the girls screamed for help. Upon this, the attackers fled. The family took the victim to Patna Medical College. The petitioner further contended that the doctors showed up just the following morning and didn’t give them the required treatment and the family needed to purchase all the prescriptions all alone. The family was disregarded beings Dalits. From that point, the victim’s family was given Rs.2, 42, 000/ – from the Government of Bihar for the treatment of both which is not sufficient as the expenses incurred were around Rs.5, 00,000. Moreover, even the complaint was not lodged by the police immediately.
The petitioner contended that the sufficient treatment was not given to the victim by the Patna hospital, Bihar State Government, and the Police. The Hospital staff ill-treated the victims and their families. With the assistance of the petitioner, the victim was moved to Safdarjung Hospital she, at last, got treatment. Her skin grafting surgeries were done there which didn’t happen properly in Patna Medical College. It has been additionally contended by the petitioner that the Police captured the four culprits after a month in light of extreme pressure from the media and social organizations.
It is argued that notwithstanding the ruling of the Apex Court in the case of Laxmi v. Union of India, acid is still promptly accessible to the vast majority of the populace in India and the acid attack assailants are living without risk of punishment, and the victims are not in a situation to manage the cost of fundamental services. Since purchasing acid is easy, it is being used to settle most minor quarrels. An acid attack survivor needs medical procedures all through his/her lifetime with every medical procedure costing around Rs.3 lacs. The remuneration of Rs.3 Lacs doesn’t cover the whole costs brought about by an acid attack survivor and their family. The further contention is that the Union of India has not built up any standard treatment and the executive’s rules; general wellbeing units and so forth, to treat acid attack survivors. The police IG even said in an interview that the victim’s statement would be recorded under the Criminal Procedure Code. But according to petitioner this never happened.
The petitioner has requested for issuance of writ of mandamus to the State of Bihar to repay Rs.5 lacs to the victim’s family which is the sum spent on her treatment until now and the expense caused on the treatment of the younger sister and to give compensation of about Rs.10 Lacs to the victim’s family in lieu of their agony and languishing. The petitioner by the way of the petition seeks for equity, compensation, and rebuilding of respect of the acid attack survivors, and furthermore the confirmation that these terrible incidents are not rehashed somewhere else.
Analysis of legal provisions available for acid attack victims regarding compensation and other facilities given to them.
QUESTIONS BEFORE THE COURT
1.Whether a satisfactory solution is provided for acid attack survivors by the rules set down in Laxmi v. Union of India regarding the provisions of Survivor Compensation Schemes, Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance, 2013, and remuneration of Rs.3 Lacs or not.
2. Whether there is a requirement for standard treatment and the executive’s rules for acid attack victims or not.
3. Whether extra responsibility should be taken to guarantee the fundamental rights of people ensured by the Indian Constitution and to make sure about the situation of acid attack victims and to give certain different rules to guarantee quick treatment, recuperation, and recovery of victims.
JUDGEMENT BY THE COURT
The Supreme court of India in the present case followed the rules laid down in Laxmi v. Union of India and further held that:
1. Considering the gravity of the offence it was held that Rs.3 Lacs accommodated as compensation for Laxmi’s situation should be the minimum amount given to a victim and more can be given as per the facts and circumstances of the case.
2. The expanding number of such cases was viewed on the account of easy accessibility of acid and no strictness by the authorities appointed for the regulation of the sale of acid as per guidelines set down.
3. Strict move ought to be made against those providing corrosive without legitimate approval and against the authorities concerned who have neglected their duty to take any action against such people.
4. The states have additionally failed in following the Victim Compensation Scheme as requested by the Court before and have been endorsing a small sum which isn’t adequate to address the injury and the shock the victim is going through.
5. The court expressed that it was important to help the victim in restoration and to ensure that the state is following the rules appropriately.
6. The court permitted compensation of Rs.10 Lacs for Chanchal and that of Rs.3 lacs for her sister to be paid within a certain period.
7. Further, it volunteered to manage such cases and guided the state to make arrangements for the victims in the disability list.
This judgment of the Court was dynamic in focusing on the predicament of acid attack victims to legitimize the requirement for an increase in compensation amount. It attempted to show the social disgrace that victims face, the trouble they have in getting jobs, and the enormous clinical expenses they have to bear for various surgeries they have to undergo due to attack. A woman’s body including her face is a part of her personality. Dismantling of her face or her body isn’t just an offense against the human body but also leads to mental harm. This leads to a physical as well as psychological harm which lowers her confidence and becomes a problem affecting the chances of employability. Then rehabilitation becomes an important matter for victims.
The Supreme Court expressed that such an increase in compensation will not only assist in securing medical expenses but also motivate the state is not only introducing the guidelines for acid attacks but also it’s strict implementation to prevent such crimes in the future. The Supreme Court additionally guided all the States to mention the names of acid attack victims in the disability list. This perceives the deep-rooted outcomes that the victims had to face, as was viably brought up by the Court, and would likewise empower them to rights under the law related to disabled people.
 2014 SCC 4 427
 C.A. No. 1078 Of 2004
 2002 CriLJ 1403
 Supra note 1
 Section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973