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Acid Attack Survivors: A Landmark Judgment On Guidelines Laid Down By SC

Acid Attack Survivors

The Supreme Court in its Judgment has directed the Bihar Government to compensate the acid attack survivor with Rs. 10 Lakhs, and her sister to with Rs. 3 Lakhs. C and S, two sisters who belong to the Dalit community from Bihar were brutally attacked with acid on October 21, 2012. Parivartan Kendra, a women’s group, filed a petition with the support of SLIC seeking to ensure that acid attack survivors are properly rehabilitated and are treated with immediate care, sensitivity and skill. 

Laxmi vs. Union Of India and Ors.

Date – 10.04.2015


M B Lokur, U U Lalit.


This is basically public interest litigation that was filed Laxmi, a survivor of an acid attack, who drives a campaign against preventing these attacks and runs an NGO named ‘Chaanv Foundation’ to support the victims and survivors. The victim Laxmi in this case at the age of 15 was attacked with acid in New Delhi, by three men on a bike revenging against her for refusing to marry one of them. Naturally as a result she suffered immense trauma both physically and mentally.

No financial help was extended to her by the government for her treatment after seven surgeries. The attackers were charged with attempt to murder (Sec. 307) r/w Sec.120-B (punishment for criminal conspiracy) but later on got bail and to add to the trauma one of the perpetrators wed immediately within one month of getting released on bail.  The Delhi HC on appeal upheld the decision of the sessions court and ordered that the accused shall pay the victim a compensation amounting to 3 lakh rupees under clause 1 sub clause (b) of Sec. 357 of the Cr.PC, 1973 (“Order to pay compensation for any loss or injury caused by the offence”).

Due to lack of a separate provision to penalize this offence of “acid attack”, the perpetrators were charged under Sec. 320 (Grievous hurt), Sec.325 (“punishment for voluntarily causing grievous hurt”) and Sec.326 (“causing grievous hurt voluntarily for by dangerous weapons or means”) of the IPC, 1860. The quantum of punishment awarded to them was insufficient to avenge the amount of trauma and damage to her physical body and mental health that she had faced.  This series of events led her to file a PIL in the apex court expressing grave concern availability of acid in market within minutes and without any scrutiny, lack of legislative provision towards preventing such a heinous offence, and regulation and rehabilitation of the survivors.


The petitioner pleaded for the following:

  1. That proper provision should be framed to monitor the availability of acid for sale and purchase in the market in order curb easy sale and purchase of acid by anyone and everyone.
  2. That a new piece of legislation should be framed along with amendment of existing laws like the IPC, Cr.PC. and Indian Evidence Act to include acid attack as a separate offence so that it can be treated as a heinous act.
  3. That strictest quantum of punishment should be awarded to the perpetrators of acid attack and a fair as well as reasonable compensation for the victims to create a balance.
  4. That the rehabilitation of such victims should be taken care of.


The provisions of IPC that were applicable to the offence of acid attack before 2013 were:

  1. Sec.  320- “Grievous Hurt”
  2. Sec.  322- “voluntarily causing grievous hurt”
  3. Sec.  323- “punishment for voluntarily causing hurt”
  4. Sec.  324- “voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means”
  5. Sec.  325- “punishment for voluntarily causing grievous hurt”
  6. Sec.  326- “voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means”

Final verdict

The Honourable SC after considering the seriousness of the matter and the vulnerable condition of the victims issued certain guidelines in respect to the first pleading. These guidelines are:

  1. That no person who is a minor shall be allowed to purchase acid.
  2. That a buyer has to produce his/her identification card while purchasing acid along with mentioning the reason for buying the same. The same information needs to be given to the nearest police station within a time period of 3 days.
  3. That the seller is obliged to submit a report of the stocks of acid before the SDM within a period of 15 days. In case the seller fails to provide such a report the SDM can exercise the discretion to seize such unreported stocks of acid and may impose a fine extending to 50,000 rupees.
  4. That in case acid is purchased by any institution, enterprise or lab etc. for the purpose of research, academics, experimentation etc.; the credentials of the same need to be maintained in a register to be submitted before the SDM.
  5. That a person should be authorised to safely scrutinise the storage and handling of acid at above mentioned places along with recording the entry and exit of each and every person.

Taking note of the second pleading the Apex court through the “Criminal Amendment Act, 2013” directed for certain changes to be made in the following legislations:

  1. Sec. 326-A was inserted in the IPC, which deals with “VOLUNTARILY CAUSING HURT BY USE OF ACID etc.”  
  • which penalizes a person for causing partial or permanent damage , causing deformity, disfiguring, burn etc. to a part or parts of body of another person,
  • by throwing or administering acid on that person or by any other means,
  • With the ‘intention’ and ‘knowledge’ both, that his act is likely to cause injury or hurt.
  • The punishment of which shall extend to either 10 yrs of imprisonment or for life along with fine.
  • The fine shall be sufficiently fair and reasonable to meet the medical expenses of the treatment of the victim. [Proviso 1]
  • Such a fine shall be paid to the victim. [Proviso 2]
  1. Sec. 326-B was inserted in the IPC which deals with “VOLUNTARILY THROWING OR ATTEMPTING TO THROW ACID”
  • The punishment for which extends from five till seven years along with fine.
  • That the term ‘acid’ shall include a substance that has either acid or any other corrosive substance or has burning characteristics sufficiently capable to cause injury, scar, partial or permanent damage to any part of the body [Explanation 1].
  •   That the injury for constituting such an offence needs not to be of irreversible character [Explanation 2].
  1. Sec 114 B was added in the ‘Indian Evidence Act’ by virtue of which a person throwing or in an attempt to throw acid shall be deemed to have both knowledge and intention for causing harm to another person.
  2. Sec 357 A was inserted in the CrPC regarding recompensating the survivors under which :
  • The state govt. along with the central government shall frame a scheme for compensation.
  • The quantum of damages to be given to the survivor under the scheme shall be finalised by the legal services authority of the district or the state on recommendation of the court.
  • The court can make recommendations if it finds the compensation to be inadequate to meet the expenses or in case the offender is acquitted.
  • In case the offender remains to be unidentified then also the survivor or his/her reliant can move an application regarding compensation in the district or state legal services authority which shall conduct an enquiry within 2 months of receiving the application and accordingly award compensation to the victim.
  • Such an authority can award unpaid medical treatment to the victim on issuance of a certificate by the officer in charge of the police station or by the magistrate.
  1. Sec. 357 B was added to the CrPC again which makes it clear that this compensation scheme under CrPC is apart and in addition to the fine that shall be paid to the victim under Section 326 A and B of the IPC.

Apart from this court also gave the following directions:

  • That the victim shall be pain 3 lakh rupees of minimum compensation.
  • That the hospitals are not allowed to turn their back for treating a victim citing the reason for non-availability of medical facilities and on denying treating the victim, such a hospital or medical practician shall be made liable under Sec. 357 C of CrPC.
  • The first aid treatment of the victim should be given the first priority.
  • That the hospital which treats the survivor initially shall issue a medical certificate to the victim for the purpose of further reference for treatment.
  • That both state and central govts. shall make effort to streamline the private hospitals as well into treating the acid attack victims.


In spite of framing such stringent laws and directions for rehabilitation of the victims, not much seems to be done by the governments till date. Most of the time the victims are supported by the general public and NGOs, from their treatment till their rehabilitation. After seven years since the amendment a little has been done and the road towards complete execution of these provisions seems to take much longer time to get covered up.

Read Also: Case Law Relating To The Constitutionality Of Techniques

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