Acid attack on a woman: Court upholds 5-year rigorous imprisonment

A court here has upheld the sentence of five years’ rigorous imprisonment awarded to a man convicted of causing grievous hurt to a woman by throwing acid at her in 2008.

Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana was hearing the appeal of Rashid, who was sentenced by a magisterial court in October 2019 for the offence under section 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means) of the Indian Penal code.

“I do not find any reasons to interfere with the order of sentence. The appeal filed by convict or appellant is dismissed ,” the judge said in a recent order.

“Considering the totality of circumstances, I do not find any illegality or infirmity in the impugned judgment. I have no hesitation in holding that the trial court has rightly convicted the appellant for the commission of the offence under Section 326 IPC,” the judge added.

Regarding the order on sentence, the judge said the magisterial court had already taken a lenient view and no further interference was required.

The judge noted that according to the prosecution, Rashid voluntarily caused grievous hurt to the victim by throwing acid on her face on August 7, 2008, following which the IP Estate police station registered a case.

He said the prosecution’s case was based on the victim’s testimony during which she had categorically stated that Rashid requested her to marry him and, after she refused, he threw acid at her.

“I find no infirmity in the approach of the trial court while convicting the appellant by relying upon the testimony of the complainant Manju testimony sounds cogent, convincing and consistent and the testimony coupled with the uncontroverted medico-legal case (MLC)…conclusively establishes that appellant caused grievous injuries to the complainant by throwing acid upon her,” the ASJ said.

Rejecting the argument of Rashid’s advocate about the non-examination of a public witness, the judge said there is no rule of law or prudence which warrants that charges cannot be sustained upon the strength of a solitary witness.

“The conviction can be sustained even upon the strength of solitary witness if the same is found sterling and creditworthy and the testimony of the injured cannot be ignored as the presence of the injured is established on record and it is virtually impossible that the injured would let off the real culprit merely to implicate an innocent man,” the judge said.

It is a matter of common knowledge that members of the general public, for obvious reasons, are too reluctant to come and testify in a court of law, the judge added.

” For the general apathy and indifference of the members of the general public, for obvious and probably justified reasons, the cause of justice cannot be made to suffer. The credit-worthy testimony of the complainant cannot be discarded merely on account of non-corroboration by the members of the general public,” the court said.

It said the cause of justice cannot be made to suffer because of some lapses of the investigating officer (IO) and mere failure of the prosecution to prove the complaint regarding Rashid’s marriage proposal is too insignificant an issue, hardly having any bearing upon the merits of the case.

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Noting that the IO was examined in the case only in February 2014, after seven years of the incident, the court said, merely because the IO forgot about the seizure memo, the inadvertent omission would not belie the entire prosecution case.

The court referred to a 1981 judgment of the Supreme Court, according to which the mere fact that the witness has not told the truth with regard to a peripheral matter would not justify the whole rejection of evidence.

” It is only where the testimony is tainted to the core, the falsehood and the truth being inextricably intertwined, that the court should discard the evidence This court is not meant to reject the testimony of a witness on the slightest deflection, however, has a bounden duty to search the truth,” the court said referring to the judgment.

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