Acid attack among most grievous crimes in contemporary society, says HC, denies bail to accused

Refusing to grant bail to an accused on the ground of prolonged incarceration in an acid attack case, the Delhi High Court has said it cannot close its eyes to the unseen psychological pain of the victim.

It said it was essential to establish a formidable deterrent to such offences.

An acid attack, the high court said, was “among the most grievous crimes in contemporary society” and the accused’s agony of long incarceration has to be appreciated on the similar lines as the victim’s wait for justice.

The accused sought his release on the ground that the minimum punishment for the offence was 10 years and he had already spent nine years in judicial custody.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said an acid attack, which is a very serious offence, often results in life-altering injuries, causing not only physical pain but also emotional scars that may never heal, and in such cases, the court’s role as a guardian of justice needs to come to the fore.

“This court cannot close its eyes to the unseen psychological pain, and the aftermath faced by the victim which continues throughout her life and how this incident may have evoked fear and insecurity in many girls in the society,” said the court in an order dated September 4.

“While the accused may bemoan his long incarceration while the trial is continuing, he wants to come out of the jail to breathe in fresh air and be the same person again. This court while exercising judicial discretion cannot ignore that the victim has to wear black glasses most of the time of her life as she did in the court lest questions or questioning eyes about the scar marks on her face again traumatize her every moment of life taking away the pleasure of leading a normal life in future,” observed the court.

The court, while asking the trial court to conclude the trial in the case within four months after taking it up on a day-to-day basis, said bail orders have a far reaching effect on the society as they carry the responsibilities towards societal expectations and serve as a means of preventing and discouraging crimes like acid attacks.

“This court remains acutely conscious of the far-reaching consequences of its decisions, particularly in cases involving heinous crimes such as acid attacks. These acts of violence not only inflict physical and psychological trauma on victims but also sow seeds of fear and insecurity in society. Hence, it is essential that the court establishes a formidable deterrent against such offenses,” the order said.

The court, Justice Sharma said, should be cognizant of its role as a guardian of justice and a protector of society and must employ its authority judiciously to ensure a safer, more just, and compassionate world for all.

Acid attacks send shockwaves through communities, spreading fear and anxiety and the court’s role in granting or denying bail in such cases is of vital significance, added the judge.

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In the present case, a 30-year-old woman, working as a senior resident in a government hospital here, became a victim of acid attack in broad daylight in Rajouri Garden area in 2014.

It was alleged that another doctor conspired with the bail applicant to throw acid on the victim after she rejected his marriage proposal.

The court said while it agreed that the accused, a compounder, has remained in jail for long and his personal liberty stood curtailed, the victim suffered about 41 per cent disability of the right eye as well as unassessable fear, anxiety and psychological pain and was also hostage of an unseen psychological trauma.

It said the accused had “meticulously devised and rehearsed a plan to commit this heinous act, with the clear intention of devastating” the future of the victim.

“Throwing acid on a girl or any other person with a view to disfigure their faces etc. with a malice so atrocious so as to disfigure and disable a person for life, as in the present case when she was on verge of getting married to another person, knowing-fully well that she will have to live with disfigured face for life, is a very serious offence,” it added.

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