Story of an acid attack victim – Rekha greets people with a warm smile, one that is usually hidden under a scarf and large sunglasses. But these accessories are not a style statement – they cover up a distressing story that began when she was just 13.

A stalker, 12 years Rekha’s senior, would follow her around, often throwing things at her to catch her attention. Fed up of his constant harassment, she complained to her family – and her brother went over to the man’s house to insist that he stop.

Unfortunately, this was a catalyst for something much worse. It made the man so angry that he threw acid at her. Sadly, Rekha’s face, chest, and arms were disfigured beyond recognition.

Assault acid attack is common in India

An acid Attack is also known as acid throwing is a form of violent assault which is defined as the act of throwing acid intentionally on the body of another to disfigure, maim, torture or kill.  Most of the victims of acid attacks are women only. Acid attack is a heinous type of crime that makes the life of the victim irrecoverable. The long-term consequences of these attacks are that it makes the person blind along with permanent scarring of the face and body. 78% of acid attack is due to rejection of a love proposal or refusal of marriage. 


Meaning And Definition Of Acid Attack

According to Section 326A of the Indian Penal Code,’’ Whoever causes permanent or partial damage or deformity to, or burns or maims or disfigures or disables, any part or parts of the body of a person or causes grievous hurt by throwing acid on or by administering acid to that person, or by using any other means with the intention of causing or with the knowledge that he is likely to cause such injury or hurt, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and with fine

According to Section 326B of the Indian Penal Code,” Whoever throws or attempts to throw acid on any person or attempts to administer acid to any person, or attempts to use any other means, with the intention of causing permanent or partial damage or deformity or burns or maiming or disfigurement or disability or grievous hurt to that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than five years but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Section 357B of Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 lays down, “ The compensation payable by the state Government under section 357A shall be in addition to the payment of fine to the victim under sec 326A or sec 376D of IPC

Section 357C of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 lays down, “All hospitals, public or private, whether run by the Central Government, local bodies or any other person, shall immediately provide the first aid or medical treatment, free of cost, to the victims of any offence covered under sec 326A, 376, 376A, 376C, 376D or sec 376E of IPC and shall immediately inform the police about such incident. 

The seventh clause of section 100 of IPC lays down that the right of private defense of body extends to the voluntarily causing of death or of any other harm to the assailant in case of an act of throwing or administering acid or an attempt to throw or administer acid which may reasonably cause the apprehension that grievous hurt will otherwise be the consequence of the such act.

Consequences Of Acid Attack

The life of an acid attack victim completely changes in one day, their loved ones start hating them, and society condemns them for their horrible appearances. The acid attack makes the life of the person hell and it also affects their social, psychological, and employment opportunities

1. Physical Consequences
Throwing acid on a person’s face, rapidly eats the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Acid can quickly destroy eyesight. The most notable danger for acid victims is breathing problems. The depth of injury depends on the strength of the acid and the duration of contact with the skin. Acid attacks dissolve the bones, ears, eyes, etc. after the acid attack, it is difficult for the victim to lead a normal life due to their physical deformities.

2. Psychological Consequences
Acid attack victims suffer many mental health issues even after recovery. Acid attack victims have higher levels of anxiety, and depression due to their appearances.

3. Medical Consequences
The medical effects of acid attacks are extensive. As the majority of acid attacks are aimed at the face, several articles thoroughly reviewed the medical implications for these victims.

What’s the Scenario in India

  • According to the data of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there were 150 such cases recorded in 2019, 105 in 2020 and 102 in 2021.
  • West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh consistently record the highest number of such cases generally accounting for nearly 50% of all cases in the country year on year.
  • The charge sheeting rate of acid attacks stood at 83% and the conviction rate at 54% in 2019.
    • In 2020, the figures stood at 86% and 72% respectively. In 2021, the figures were recorded to be 89% and 20% respectively.
  • In 2015, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued an advisory to all states to ensure speedy justice in cases of acid attacks by expediting prosecution.

What is the Law on Acid Attacks in India?

  • Indian Penal Code: Until 2013, acid attacks were not treated as separate crimes. However, following amendments carried out in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), acid attacks were put under a separate section (326A) of the IPC and made punishable with a minimum imprisonment of 10 years which is extendable to life along with a fine.
  • Denial of Treatment: The law also has provisions for punishment for denial of treatment to victims or police officers refusing to register an FIR or record any piece of evidence.
    • Denial of treatment (by both public and private hospitals) can lead to imprisonment of up to one year and dereliction of duty by a police officer is punishable by imprisonment of up to two years.

What is the Law on the Regulation of Acid Sales?

  • The Poisons Act, 1919: In 2013, the Supreme Court took cognizance of acid attacks and passed an order on the regulation of sales of corrosive substances.
    • Based on the order, the MHA issued an advisory to all states on how to regulate acid sales and framed the Model Poisons Possession and Sale Rules, 2013 under The Poisons Act, 1919.
    • As a result, states were asked to frame their own rules based on model rules, as the matter fell under the purview of states.
  • Maintenance of the Data: Over-the-counter sale (without a valid prescription) of acid was not allowed unless the seller maintains a logbook/register recording the sale of acid.
    • This logbook was to also contain the details of the person to whom acid is sold, the quantity sold, the address of the person, and also specify the reason for procuring acid.
  • Age Restriction & Documentation: The sale is also to be made only upon presentation of a photo ID containing his address issued by the government. The buyer must also prove he/she is above 18 years of age.
  • Confiscation of Acid Stocks: Sellers are also required to declare all stocks of acid with the concerned Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) within 15 days and in case of undeclared stock of acid. The SDM can confiscate the stock and suitably impose a fine of up to Rs 50,000 for a breach of any of the directions.
  • A Record-Keeping Requirement: As per the rules, educational institutions, research laboratories, hospitals, government departments and the departments of Public Sector Undertakings, which are required to keep and store acid, to maintain a register of usage of acid and file the same with the concerned SDM.
  • Accountability: As per the rules, a person shall be made accountable for the possession and safe keeping of acid in their premises. The acid shall be stored under the supervision of this person and there shall be compulsory checking of the students/ personnel leaving the laboratories/place of storage where acid is used.

Compensation and Care for the Acid-attack Victims?

  • Compensation: Acid attack victims are paid compensation of at least Rs. 3 lakhs by the concerned State Government/Union Territory as the aftercare and rehabilitation cost.
  • Free of Cost Treatment: States are supposed to ensure that treatment provided to acid attack victims in any hospital, public or private, is free of cost. The cost incurred on treatment is not to be included in the Rs 1 lakh compensation given to the victim.
  • Reservation of Beds: Acid attack victims need to undergo a series of plastic surgeries and hence 1-2 beds at private hospitals could be reserved for the treatment of acid attack victims.
  • Social Integration Programs: States should also extend social integration programs to the victims for which Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) could be funded to exclusively look after their rehabilitative requirements

Case Laws Related To Acid Attack

In Syed Shafique Ahmed v State of Maharashtra, a personal enmity with his wife was the main reason behind the acid attack by the husband on his wife as well as another person. This acid attack caused disfiguration on his wife’s face as well as that other person and the wife lost her vision of her right eye. The accused was convicted under section 326 and section 324 of the IPC and sentenced to rigorous

In Ravinder Singh v State of Haryana, acid was poured on a woman by her husband for refusing to grant him a divorce. The husband was involved in an extra-marital affair. Due to the attack, the victim suffered multiple acid burns on her face and other parts of her body leading to her death. The accused was charged and convicted under Section 302 of the IPC. However, life imprisonment was not imposed even though the victim had died.




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