The Courts will not show any mercy towards the persons involved in acid attack cases. Even if the accused are convicted with lesser punishment it will not sustain in appellate courts and more stringent punishment will be imposed on them.
In one such case, the Supreme Court has said that the emotional distress suffered by an acid attack victim cannot be compensated either by sentencing the accused or by granting compensation.
The Apex Court said a crime of this nature does not deserve any kind of clemency, while dealing with an appeal filed by government and victim against judgment of a lower court.
As for the case, the victim suffered 16 per cent burns due to acid attack while she was going to college. After recording her statement, the police registered a case against the accused and were tried by the trail court leading to their conviction for offence under Section 307 (attempt to murder) IPC and were sentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs 5,000 each.
When it was challenged in the High Court, the Court took note of the chemical burns which were evident from the forensic report and arrived at a conclusion that the offence under Section 307 was not made out and converted the offence from Section 307 to Section 326 IPC (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means) and sentenced them 5-year RI with a fine of Rs 25,000 each.
Aggrieved with the same, the government and the victim moved the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the accused have undergone their sentence and have deposited the fine amount of Rs 25,000 each and were released after undergoing sentence in terms of the impugned order.
The counsel for the appellants told the Apex Court that it was a case of acid attack on an innocent victim and the trial court has rightly convicted the accused under Section 307 IPC and there was no reasonable and cogent justification for the High Court to interfere with the impugned judgment of the trial court.
Once the accused had been held guilty, their alteration of punishment is uncalled for and prayed for restoring the conviction and sentence held by the trial court.
On the other hand, the counsel for the accused while supporting the judgment of High Court, submitted that the accused were young at the given point of time on the date of incident and looking at the chemical burns of 16 per cent which the victim had suffered, it cannot be considered to be a case of Section 307 IPC.
Hence, there is no justification to restore the conviction and sentence awarded by the trial court.
After hearing the case, the Supreme Court is of the view that the accused have rightly been held guilty and their conviction under Section 326 IPC and sentenced for five years at least needs no interference, but at the same time, it disposed to address on victim compensation which may at least bring some solace to the victim.
“This Court cannot be oblivious of the situation that the victim must have suffered an emotional distress which cannot be compensated either by sentencing the accused or by grant of any compensation,’’ the Apex court observed.
The Apex Court modified the impugned judgment of the High Court by directing the accused to pay an additional compensation of `1.5 lakh each and that the State government pay the compensation as admissible under the victim compensation scheme as in vogue to the acid victim.
If the accused do not pay the additional compensation within the specified period, they shall suffer rigorous imprisonment of six months, the Supreme Court said while disposing of the appeal.