Laxmi vs. Union of India and Others

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Citation: 2014 Scc (4) 427

Date of Judgement: 10th April 2015

Name of the petitioner: Laxmi

Name of the respondent: Union of India

Court: Supreme Court of India

Sitting Judges: Justice Madan B. Lokur; Justice Uday Umesh Lalit

Introduction

In this case, Laxmi, who was a strong acid attack survivor, filed a PIL against the Union of India, which resulted in the publication of recommendations for the benefit of acid attack survivors. The Supreme Court‘s ruling placed limitations on the vending of acid and awarded the victim compensation. In the past, acid assaults fell under the general category of crimes which was part of “grievous harm.

” Following the “Justice J.S. Verma commission’s” recommendations subsequent to the gang rape that happened in the year 2012 along with the killing of a physiotherapy student, “The Criminal Amendment Act of 2013” passed a number of new laws, including one that classified acid violence as a distinct crime punishable by a life sentence in prison and a fine. The sale of acid on counters was not prohibited prior to this Supreme Court decision, and the government’s compensation was inadequate. The long-term effects of an acid assault include unending suffering, lasting harm, and other issues for the victim’s whole life.

Their ongoing lives become shambles, and fighters are too frightened and ashamed to step out of their homes or carry out routine duties. There is no assurance that society would treat them as regular people despite their desire to lead a normal life due to their post-attack looks and limitations. Therefore, the state should punish the wrongdoers severely so as to decrease similar acid assaults on females. Before Laxmi vs. Union of India and Others, acid assaults were not well known, but when it was brought to light, more incidents became public.

Facts

Laxmi, who was aged about 15 years suffered an acid assault and filed this PIL. She was raised in a middle-class household and helped her parents by taking a part-time job as a salesman at a bookseller. Two acquaintances visited her on the tragic day of April 22, 2005, and they doused her in acid. When they heard her screams, a crowd gathered, but no one attempted to aid.

After that, she was brought to the “Ram Manohar Lohiya Hospital”, where she received medical care. According to the medical report, the girl got about 25% acid blisters on her face, chest, eyes as well as the forearm. She then told the authorities that Naeem Khan (Guddu) and Rakhi were responsible once she regained consciousness (his sister-in-law). She said that family friend Naeem Khan had asked her to marry him, but she had categorically rejected his proposal.

The accused and co-accused were found guilty by the Delhi Sessions Court of violating “Indian Penal Code Sections 307 (Attempt to Murder) and 120B (Punishment for Criminal Conspiracy)”.

Following that, the accused appealed the Sessions Court’s ruling to the Delhi High Court. The High Court affirmed the lower court’s judgement. Additionally, “Section 357(1) (b) of the Criminal Procedure Code”, ordered the blamed to recompense the victim an amount totalling Rs. 3 lakhs in damages.

Laxmi filed a Public Interest Litigation before the Supreme Court in 2013 to bring to light the miseries of acid attack sufferers. There is a number of causes for acid attacks, but most customers include not agreeing to marry, refusal of sexual approaches, and dowry matters. The primary goal of submitting this PIL was to have an outright prohibition on the selling of acid, tighter regulations governing acid assaults, and a better reimbursement structure.

Issues

Amendments must be made to pertinent laws, such as the “Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Evidence Act”, to ensure that the criminal justice system recognizes acid assault as a distinct crime and that the perpetrator of the attack faces harsh punishment. Creating regulations to prohibit the selling and purchasing of acid. Providing compensation along with rehabilitation to the sufferers.

Arguments by the Petitioners

  • The petitioner spoke up against the ease with which acids were being sold in the marketplaces.
  • She explained how the acid assault had left her with physical, mental, and emotional damage.
  • She asked the government for rehabilitation.
  • She said that the existing rules did not consider acid assaults as a specific occurrence but rather regarded them as a generalised occurrence and called for harsher and more rigorous penalties to be applied to those who perpetrated these horrible crimes.
  • She demanded that survivors of acid attacks receive both free care and compensation.

Arguments By the Respondent

  • The Central Government will implement the model guidelines, according to the learned solicitor general.
  • The model regulations, which have to be applied from today’s date in a week, regulated the sale of acid and other hazardous chemicals under “The 1919 Poisons Act” to all state governments and union territories.
  • They also maintained that the model standards would cover a variety of topics, such as the kinds of acids that can be kept and sold (liquid and crystallized), the granting of licenses, and individual gains. Institutions engaged in education or research, hospitals, businesses, government agencies, or activities in the public sector.
  • “The Hon’ble Counsel for the State of Tamil Nadu” declared that adequate and rigorous legislation will be regularized within 2 months on this day to control the sale of acid and other hazardous chemicals.
  • The state and union territory administrations declared that they would totally abolish cognizance of and availability of bail for offences under the 1919 Poison Act.

Judgement

  • This resulted in the following changes to the laws governing the criminal justice system:
  • Sections 326A and 326B, which particularly addressed the offence of the acid assault, were added to “Section 326 of the Indian Penal Code”.
  • The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 has been changed to incorporate Section 357B, which ensures that the victim will get reimbursement in addition to the penalties required under “Sections 326A and 376D of the IPC. Section 357A explains the victim compensation programmer”.
  • Section 114B, which describes the purpose and knowledge that the perpetrator is likely to have under section “326A of the IPC”, was also added to the Indian Evidence Act.
  • The victim is entitled to compensation of at least three lakh rupees, according to the government’s Victim Compensation Scheme, which also established a consistent method for paying the compensation. It was emphasised that no facility, not even a private hospital, could refuse the victim medical care. When hospitals are short on equipment, the victim should first get primary care before being transferred to the appropriate hospital.
  • The restriction on acid sales and purchases.
  • Under the Victim Compensation Scheme, a legal service authority was also established to aid victims in obtaining justice.

Inferences

The case’s decision in Laxmi vs. Union of India and Others resulted in the adoption of stringent guidelines and recommendations under the victim’s compensation scheme as well as revisions to certain criminal justice-related legislation. Numerous more rules for the assistance of acid attack fighters were adopted as an effect of the PIL petition. After the survey, it was found that the three states with the highest rates of acid assaults were “Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh”. Only acid assaults occurred in Delhi, a Union Territory.

Conclusion

The case of Laxmi v. Union of India and others has become a standard in society, from education to the application of strict laws. The goal is to safeguard women from egotistical men who are chauvinistic to the point of disfiguring others to satisfy their own needs. By designating acid attacks as heinous crimes and holding the federal and state governments accountable for the rehabilitation of the victims, the Criminal Amendment Act, of 2013, brought about a good transformation in society.

The judiciary’s imposition of free medical care demonstrated its genuine concern and empathy for the victim and her family. The main issue is the authority’s ability to put in place an operative approach to stop acid attacks, which requires constant monitoring of acid trades and buying.

The responsible and concerned judiciary believes that since the legal system is so important in establishing social outcomes, it is necessary to alter the law to make acid attacks a serious offence. In this instance, the predetermined compensation and regularity in the administration of justice were both accomplished. Every person must comprehend the concepts of equality, uniqueness, and humanity since society as a whole is equally to blame for the commission of such crimes.


By: Ananaya Chauhan, Delhi Metropolitan Education, Noida


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