Acid Attacks in India and Efficacy of Victim Compensation Scheme

Estimated Reading Time: 13 minutes

Overview

Acid attacks have become more common in recent years all over the world. In addition to serious facial and body injuries, such abuse causes psychological and social issues that have a negative impact on the survivors’ quality of life. The responsibility to avoid human rights abuses includes the need to pass legislation that protects women from gender-based violence.

Brutality against ladies has been ascending regardless of various laws set up intended to stop it. This is essentially because of the hesitance of public specialists to take an interest and address matters and this outcomes in an ascent of violations against ladies without prevention. Acid assaults are particularly frightening in nature as the culprit plans to distort and make mental and actual distress the person in question.

In the landmark judgment of Laxmi v. Union of India , the Supreme Court set down exacting rules for the state governments to outline tough guidelines in regards to the deal and acquisition of over the counter corrosive, in order to decrease the event of corrosive assaults. The court has additionally outlined rules in regards to crisis clinical reaction and fixed a quantum of remuneration for the people in question.

The Law Commission of India[1] and the National Commission for Women (NCW) have long advocated for changes to the Indian Penal Code and the Indian Evidence Code to counter acid attack crime. This Article shall analyse the concept of Victim compensation Scheme in India in light of Acid Attacks.

Introduction

Acid assaults, especially on women, have seen an upsetting advancement in India over the span of the latest decade. While these attacks can be credited to various components, for instance, the social inadequacy of women in a male-overpowered society, the situation is exacerbated by the general dismissal of the lawmakers. As Acid is cheap and viably available, it fills in as an ideal weapon for the offenders. Further, as this offense is bailable in explicit conditions, the order doesn’t go probably as a sufficient check generally speaking.

Acid attack, which is otherwise called corrosive violence or vitriolage, has arisen as a fierce demonstration that shows the gravity of the continuous monstrosities and human rights infringement[2]. The wrongdoing of Acid Attack is a planned demonstration of brutality wherein acid is tossed or poured on the face or other body portions of the person in question. The terrible wrongdoing of Acid violence can be seen in numerous nations; nonetheless, it is more common in nations like Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Cambodia. The wrongdoing of Acid assault can be perpetrated against any individual with no qualification being made on any grounds viz. age, sex or religion.

According to the United Nations Organization[3], Human rights are those rights that are fundamental to all human beings, regardless of their nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, faith, language, or any other status, according to the United Nations Organization. Human rights are granted to all people without prejudice, and they are often enshrined in law. All of these rights are related, interdependent, indivisible, fundamental, and inalienable[4].

Additionally, the object for the criminal justice is to ensure the privileges of the people, society and state from the lawbreakers by punishing the charged for abusing the law. In the event that the charged is seen as liable, he/she is punished with detainment and kept in jail with an object of improving him/her.

While the whole focal point of the law is on the wrongdoer, to ensure his/her privileges, to punish him/her and consequently achieve his/her renewal and recovery with every one of the assets and altruism accessible through courts and different organizations, the person in question, all the more frequently, is left to battle for himself/herself with practically no help coming his/her way.

The breach of his or her rights, the invasion of his or her reputation, and the real damages he or she has suffered are not matters of interest to anyone but himself. Margery Fry, a British magistrate and social reformer, was the first to propose the concept of justice for crime victims in the 1950s[5]. The ‘victimology’ movement in the 1960s paved the way for monetary compensation while also providing an incentive to governments by relating that compensation to victims’ cooperation in criminal prosecutions. Victim compensation was introduced in Canada and some states in the United States to promote cooperation in criminal trials.The founders of victimology and victim justice took the lead in changing the criminal justice system on behalf of victims of crime in the early 1980s.

Victims of crime now have basic protections and entitlements, including the right to compensation, thanks to the Declaration. In India, the right of a victim to claim compensation was recognised under the Code of Criminal Procedure,[6] but it was limited to the amount of fine actually realised and only available if a substantial sentence of fine was levied. However, this provision was sparingly invoked. Following that, under Art 21 of the Indian Constitution, the right was read as a part of the fundamental right.

Discussion

As indicated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “everybody has the privilege to life, freedom, and individual insurance.” Without restricting the extent of the previously mentioned right, the United Nations received the Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power in November 1985, which portrays casualty as “persons who, individually or collectively, have suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that are in violation of criminal laws operative within Member States…”.

The Declaration acknowledges that “victims should be handled with dignity” and that they have the right to seek redress through prompt, equitable, low-cost, and easily accessible procedures. It also stipulates that the victims should be provided with the requisite material, medical, psychological, and social assistance by governmental, voluntary, community-based, , and it stresses the importance of governmental, wilful, area based, and native methods underlines on the requirement for the police, equity, wellbeing, social help and other faculty worried to be touchy to the necessities of the people in question.

Under the International Conventions all forms of gender inequality, including gender-based abuse, must be prevented and adequately addressed by states parties. The “CEDAW Committee and the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women”, Its Causes and Consequences, in particular, have recognised that states must work diligently to avoid human rights abuses, including those perpetrated by private, non-state actors.

Article 21[7] of the Constitution of India perceives the right to live with human nobility inside the ambit of right to life. Such principal and basic freedoms reach out to the survivors of corrosive assaults. The Constitution additionally accommodates Directive Principles of State Policies which are not enforceable in any court, in any case, they are key to the nation’s administration, and it is the State’s duty to apply these qualities when making laws. Article 38[8] advances the advancement of individuals’ government assistance through a democratic order in which social, monetary, and political equity are reflected in all parts of public life.

Acid Attacks cause serious real torment and long-lasting mental injury by breaking the victim’s essential physical/social personality in a which frequently makes them a subject of pity. Indian law doesn’t contain a thorough legitimate definition for Acid assaults, yet the wrongdoing by and large includes the tossing, splashing, or pouring of corrosive on an individual’s body or face with a goal to cause real or facial distortion or demise.

Furthermore, these Acids are corrosive compounds that have the ability to burn and scar anything they come into contact with. Sulfuric acid, nitric acid, and hydrochloric acid are the most common acids used in acid attacks, and they are all commonly used for washing, cotton and rubber processing, and other industrial purposes.

Acid attacks are incidents of interpersonal abuse that are motivated by a desire to instil fear in other women. Individual acid attacks, on the other hand, can make women afraid of breaking social norms that hold them in subordinate positions[9]. Acid violence sends a message to all women in a world where such violence exists, not just the victims[10]. In my opinion the fast availability of acid in retail is the leading cause of acid attacks.

Seeing from the perspective of the principle of restitution, has been used as a punitive measure throughout history. The realms of civil and criminal law were never conceptually divided in ancient cultures, but the accused was mechanically forced to compensate the victim and/or family for any damages incurred by the commission of the offence. However, the primary goal of such compensation was misplaced, since it was intended to shield the perpetrator from violent retribution from the victim or the community rather than compensate the victim. It was a deal made with the perpetrator in order for him to ‘win back’ the peace he had violated.

Principles of law progressively demarcated the distribution of punishment in the case of civil torts and criminal offences as time passed. Compensation was first introduced into common law as a victim’s right rather than a remedy in the event of a crime[11]. As a result, the burden of proof for rehabilitating victims was removed from criminal law, as the legal position was that criminal punishment was either reformative or retributive for the perpetrator, rather than rehabilitative for the victim.

Victim Compensation Scheme

The Indian Constitution, the incomparable rule that everyone must follow, articulates no particular provisions for victims as such. In any case, Part IV, Directive Principle of State Policy, Art 41 and Part V, Fundamental Duties, Art 51A set out the obligation of the state to give “the privilege to public help with instances of disablement and in different instances of uncalled for need” and to “have sympathy for living animals” and “to create humanism” individually. These articles have been deciphered in a broad way to derive maximum benefit for the survivors.

The privilege to compensation has likewise been deciphered as a fundamental piece of right to life and freedom under Art. 21 of the Constitution. As ahead of schedule as in 1983, the Supreme Court perceived the candidate’s entitlement to guarantee compensation for unlawful detainment and granted a complete amount of Rs. 35000 by as a compensation.

Under segment 357 (3) Cr.P.C. 1973[12], nonetheless, the court is engaged to grant compensation for misfortune or injury endured by an individual, even in situations where the fine doesn’t shape a piece of the sentence. As such, the ability to grant compensation isn’t subordinate to another sentence, yet it is also thereto. There is likewise no restriction to the sum that might be granted and is left completely to the tact of the court to choose for each situation relying upon current facts and circumstances of the case.

 Hon’ble Mr. Justice Krishna Iyer stated that while social responsibility of the accused to indemnify the loss or heal the injury is a part of the reformative exercise, the duration of a prison sentence is futility compounded with brutality for the crippled or bereaved, and victimology must find satisfaction not by barbarism but by compulsory recoupment of the harm done by the wrongdoer, not through inflicting more suffering on the offender but through lessening the misery of the bereaved.

The one simple object of all the states have been- “for providing funds for compensation to the victims or their dependents, who have suffered loss or injury as a result of the crime and who require rehabilitation”. This is in tune with s. 357A[13]  which is similarly worded with regard to the constitution of the Victim Compensation Scheme[14]. It lays down two objectives

I) to give monetary help to the people who are victims and

ii) support administrations like sanctuary, counselling, clinical guide, lawful help, schooling and professional preparing relying on the requirements of the person who is a victim.

At times, the expression “victim” has been extended to incorporate “subordinate relatives” and “gatekeeper or legitimate beneficiaries” in others. The District Legal Service Authority (DLSA)/State Legal Service Authority (SLSA) has been depended by all states with the obligation of deciding remuneration and giving other transitory reliefs. The Legal Services Authority has been set up at the state and area levels under section 6 and 9 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to offer free lawful types of assistance to the more fragile segments of the general public like acid attack victims.

To assist the victims, the procedure has been kept simple in all states. When the District Legal Service Authority (DLSA) / State Legal Service Authority (SLSA) receives a recommendation from the court or an application from the victim, it must review and check the evidence presented in the lawsuit before making a decision on compensation. It is a time-limited process, with most states requiring two months to decide the allegation, with the exception of Arunachal Pradesh, which requires 30 days.

The documents and materials that must be provided to support the application are explicitly stated in the Victim Compensation Scheme. They include a copy of the FIR or complaint to the judge, a medical record, a death certificate, and, in some cases, a copy of the verdict. It has not been listed categorically in other jurisdictions, which could make it difficult for victims to prove their case.

The states have also been tasked with establishing and maintaining a fund for this purpose. The Victim Compensation Scheme applies in situations where the accused’s compensation is insufficient or no compensation is owed due to the accused’s acquittal or discharge, or the offender’s failure to be found or recorded.

The District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) or State Legal Services Authority (SLSA) has been approved to choose the measure of remuneration to be granted to casualties under the plan, subject to the most extreme breaking point recommended by the State. Notwithstanding instalment of pay, segment 357A additionally endeavours to react to the prompt necessities to the casualties for emergency treatment or health advantage just as some other interval help, as might be required. This Compensation should be paid notwithstanding the fine forced on the casualty under IPC segment 326A. This arrangement expresses that the express government’s expense under area 357A is notwithstanding the casualty’s instalment of a fine under segment 326A or 376D of the Indian Penal Code.

Furthermore, medical care and support can only be provided if the injuries are duly identified and victims are assisted with their treatment by those in their immediate vicinity. The majority of people are unable to assist the victims for fear of being harassed by the investigation agency. And after the appropriate care is provided, the victim’s mind still has a vacuum, and she or he can take a long time to recover emotionally, even though external healing is provided.

Notwithstanding these schemes and provisions, there are roughly 200 announced instances of corrosive assaults yearly, as per the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) 2019 report. In an examination directed by Thomas Reuters Foundation, it was tracked down that out of 55 contextual analyses of corrosive assaults, just one case had the reference to the acquisition of corrosive and no move was made against the merchant in any of different cases.

Conclusion

Acid attacks are one of the most heinous abuses of women’s basic rights in Indian society today. Women have the right to be protected from such violent attacks under international human rights law, specifically in the international declarations.

It becomes pertinent to note that the survivors of the Acid attack suffer physical and psychological injuries as a result of the attack. This is a multi-faceted problem involving sickness, disability, and victimisation that necessitates a variety of interventions at various levels.

Moreover, the victims are often subjected to social stigma and suffering, as well as being ignored by society. This isn’t the case. Furthermore, the general reaction of hatred that the victim would face, as well as the humiliation that the victim would have to endure throughout her life, cannot be quantified in monetary terms. A victim’s physical injuries prevent him or her from leading a regular life, let alone dreaming of marriage.

In India, there has also been a notable shift in the justice system’s approach to crime victims. Restitution and justice for victims have become prominent features, in accordance with the fundamental principles enumerated in the 1985 Declaration[15]. However, compensation to victims has been sparingly distributed from fines levied, and the sums paid have been nominal.

Victim Compensation Scheme is a bold effort by the states to compensate the victims for their damages or injuries, as well as to meet their recovery needs[16]. However, the systems in different states have been found to differ in several ways. Even the amount of compensation received varies by state. It’s important that the scheme works in the victim’s favour, so all reasonable attempts should be made to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

Along these lines, the fundamental inquiry lies concerning what should be never really address the issue viably. Since gendered brutality is woven unpredictably into the Indian cultural design, it is simply reasonable for execute social mindfulness missions to help bring issues to light at the grass-root level.

Gendered brutality against ladies won’t be tended to except if ladies are brought to similar platform as men by means of public interest, open discoursed, instruction and mindfulness, and legitimate execution and settling of laws.

Another successful measure may be increased public visibility and media handling of these situations that is more sensitive and mature. The media, as the Fourth Estate, will play a key role in raising public and national awareness about this crime and its perpetrators, influencing authorities to take a tougher stance against acid attacks.

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[1] 26th Report of the Law Commission of India, The Inclusion of Acid Attacks as Specific Offences in the Indian Penal Code and a law for Compensation for Victims of Crime, 42 (2009)

[2] Lisa M. Taylor, Saving Face: Acid Attack Laws after the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 29 GA. J. INT’l & COMP. L. 395 (2001).

[3] U.N. Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, Article 1, 14.

[4] What are human rights? The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Pages/WhatareHumanRights.aspx

[5] Carlos Fernttndez de Casadevante Romani, International Law of Victims, 14 MAX PLANCK YEARBOOK OF UNITED NATIONS LAW, 201o, at 219, 271

[6] Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, No.2, Acts of Parliament, 1974 Sec.357B.

[7] Constitution of India, 1950

[8] Supra.

[9] The Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its Causes and Consequences, Yakin Ertürk, Report on The Due Diligence Standard as a Tool for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, 20, U.N. Doc

[10] Uma Bhushan Lohray, Criminalization of Acid Crimes and Implementing the Law in the South East Asian Subcontinent, 39 COMMW. L. BULL. 619 (2013).

[11] Harsimran Gill & Karen Dias, Indian Acid Attack Victims Share Their Stories, ALJAZEERA (Mar. 10,2016),http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/03/indian-acid-attack-victims-sharestories-160309074926141.html.

[12] Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, No.2, Acts of Parliament, 1974 Sec.357.

[13] Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, No.2, Acts of Parliament, 1974 Sec.357A

[14] Vibha Mohan, Revisiting Victim Compensation in India, 4 INDIAN J.L. & PUB. POL’y 88 (2018).

[15] Girish Kesava Pillai, Restorative Justice in India: An Over View, 2 NIRMA U. L.J. [1] (2012)

[16] Vibha Mohan, Revisiting Victim Compensation in India, 4 INDIAN J.L. & PUB. POL’y 88 (2018).

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