Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of B. Veerappa and V. Srishananda, JJ., allowed the appeal in part and confirmed impugned judgment of conviction and order of sentence.
The instant case is about the accused throwing acid on a girl as she refused to marry him. It caused grievous corrosive injuries on her face, back, hands and caused and thus, disfigured her face and body. A case was registered under Sections 326A, 326B and 307 of Penal Code, 1860 i.e. IPC. The Sessions Judge considered the oral and documentary evidence on record held that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, convicted the accused and sentenced him to undergo life imprisonment. Assailing this, the instant present appeal was filed.
The Court noting the increase in number of acid attack crimes and absence of suitable legislation in this regard in the Penal Code, 1860 observed that the provisions of Section 326A of IPC came to be introduced by the Legislature by Act 13 of 2013, with effect from 03.02.2013. The object of the amendment is to provide stringent punishment for crimes against women and also to provide more victim-friendly procedure in the trial of such cases and the Committee recommended making a specific provisions to award adequate punishment for such offences which cause grievous hurt by acid attack and also attempt thereof.
The Court observed under the Constitution of India, which is called ‘Bhagavad Gita’, ‘right to life’ is the fundamental right guaranteed and it is the fundamental duty of the State to protect it. An ‘acid attack’ by the accused not only caused physical injuries, but left behind a permanent scar. It is a crime against basic human rights and also violates the most cherished fundamental rights guaranteed under Article-21 of the Constitution of India.
The Court quoted the great saint and scholar of our country – Swami Vivekananda stating “the best thermometer to the progress of a nation is its treatment of its women”
The Court observed that the Court cannot shut its eyes to obnoxious growing tendency of young persons like accused resorting to use corrosive substances like acid for throwing on girls, causing not only severe physical damage, but also mental trauma to young girls. In most of the cases, the victim dies because of severe burns and septicemia or even if luckily survives, it will only be a grotesque disfigured person, who even if survives, lives with mangled flesh, “hideous zombie-like appearance and often blind if acid is splashed on face and suffer a fate worse than death”. The imposition of appropriate punishment is the manner in which the Court responds to society’s cry for justice against such criminals. Justice demands that the Courts should impose punishment befitting the crime so that the Courts reflect public abhorrence of the crime.
The Court observed that In the case on hand, when the accused is tried for specific offence carved out under the Indian Penal Code for the offence of acid attack, trial Court resorted to Section 307 of IPC, having regard to gravity of offence especially after effects of the acid attack cases discussed supra. The Legislature in its wisdom carved out a separate and distinct offence punishable under Section 326A of IPC., for an action wherein the acid is used as a weapon for attacking the innocent, as is referred to supra and prescribed suitable punishment. Therefore, the action of the accused can be traced to and punished only under Section 326A of IPC and the said action of the accused cannot be tried and punished under Section 307 of IPC along with Section 326A of IPC.
The Court held “learned Sessions Judge is not justified in convicting the appellant/accused for the offence punishable under Section 307 of IPC and sentencing him to undergo imprisonment for life and to pay a fine of Rs.50, 000/- with default clause in the facts and circumstances of the case.”
The Court held “learned Sessions Judge under Section 326A of IPC and sentencing him to undergo imprisonment for life and to pay a fine of Rs. 10, 00,000/- with default clause in the facts and circumstances of the case.”
[Mahesha v. State, 2021 SCC OnLine Kar 12987, decided on 22-07-2021]
Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.
For appellants – Mr S G RAJENDRA REDDY
For Respondent- Mr S.RACHAIAH