NEW DELHI The Supreme Court today expressed "shock" at the approach of the Hyderabad High Court which had reduced the jail term of a man who threw acid on a girl for rejecting his marriage proposal, saying there was "no justification" for the act.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and R Banumathi set aside the verdict of the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh which had reduced the sentence of the convict to 30 days, the period already undergone by him behind bars and restored it to one year jail term as awarded by a trial court.
It also awarded the victim, a young girl from Andhra Pradesh, a compensation of Rs 3.5 lakh while allowing her appeal against the verdict of the High Court.
"The approach of the High Court shocks us and we have no hesitation in saying so. When there is medical evidence that there was an acid attack on the young girl and the circumstances having brought home by cogent evidence and the conviction is given the stamp of approval, there was no justification to reduce the sentence to the period already undergone.
"We are at a loss to understand whether the learned Judge has been guided by some unknown notion of mercy or remaining oblivious of the precedents relating to sentence or for that matter, not careful about the expectation of the collective from the court, for the society at large eagerly waits for justice to be done in accordance with law, has reduced the sentence," the bench said.
As per the appeal of the victim, she was attacked with acid on her head by the accused in 2003 after her family had turned down his proposal to marry the victim.
The trial court had held him guilty under Section 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means) of the IPC and sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment for one year along with a fine of Rs 5,000.
The High Court had upheld the conviction but reduced the sentence to the period already undergone by the convict behind bars, after which the victim approached the apex court contending that the period of custody suffered by the accused was a mere thirty days.
The apex court, while allowing her plea, said, "when a substantive sentence of 30 days is imposed in the crime of present nature, that is acid attack on a young girl, the sense of justice, if we allow ourselves to say so, is not only ostracized but also is unceremoniously sent to 'Vanaprastha'. It is wholly impermissible."
"We direct the accused to pay a compensation of Rs 50,000 and the State to pay a compensation of Rs 3 lakhs," it said.