Laxmi vs. Union of India (2014) 4 SCC 427

BY- Saksham Aggarwal, LLB

Bharati Vidyapeeth University 

INTRODUCTION

This case is one of the most important and landmark cases in the history of India. This case was Laxmi vs. Union of India and Ors . A PIL was filed by the Acid Attack Survivor named Laxmi. The main purpose of filing of PIL was for the betterment of young girls and specially the acid attack survivors. And the other main reason for the filing of PIL was to curb the free sale of acids available to the attackers and to guarantee access to medical care to the suffered person on time and required. And the result was a success as Supreme Court of India passed several important orders regarding the sale of acid and setting minimum compensation for the acid attack survivors.

FACTS

The case is set up on an Acid Attack victim named Laxmi(Petitioner). At the time when this accident happened with her she was a minor at that time aged only 16 years. And because of the offence happened with her she had to struggle every second every minute of her life and had to suffer emotional and physical pain everyday as because what happened with her.
The acid was thrown on her face by a person named Naeem Khan just because she refused to marry him. And the person couldn’t take that and committed a grievous offence by putting acid on her face and was accompanied by two more persons. Her upper body(specially the face) was fully damaged, and couldn’t get herself recovered back to the former position as which was before
the offence. Later she filed a criminal case for an Attempt to Murder against all the persons who were involved in the commitment of the offence. All were confined by the High Court of Delhi but were later released on bail by the Apex court of appeal. All the efforts she had put were of no use as all the offenders were not given any punishment and rather were released on bail; and because of the impugned order passed by the High Court of Delhi she had to file a writ petition before the Apex court of India. And the main reason for filing of PIL was for prohibiting the easy sale of acid in markets. And there was also a need for the amendment of the criminal laws in India which should be specifically be dealing the offence acid attacks and to provide compensation to the suffered victim of the attack.

ISSUES

1.To make amendments in Indian Penal Code,1860 and in Criminal Procedure Code,1973 which relates to the Acid Attacks.
2.Complete ban on sale of acid and other such forms available, and over the counter also.
3.Prosecution of acid throwers and rigorous punishment, rehabilitation for the acid attack victims which should cover the compensation also along with medical expenses.

ARGUMENTS

Petitioner-
a. The petitioner raised her voice over the easy access and distribution of acid and such forms in the market at the tip of fingers.
b. She also stated that in what ways the acid attack has changed her life in negative way which cannot be repaired or brought as was earlier. And the attack has caused physical, emotional and mental trauma for her.
c. Rehabilitation centres and facilities should be made available to the victims.
d. Stricter and stringent rules should be made for the people who commit such kind of heinous crimes because the laws which are present in the current time only deals with the acid attack as a general offence rather than giving it as a separate section.
e. Request made for free treatment and compensation to the acid attack survivors.

Respondent-
a. The solicitor general told the Central Government that the said model rules will be put in effect.
b. The said model rules consisted the regulation of sale of acid and other corrosive substances which comes under poisons act,1919 to all state governments and union territories.
c. It was also held that the model rules will also be including any type /form of liquid or crystallised acids which can be stored and sold and issue of license. The rules will be applied on any type of institution(including educational,public, private or any kind of PSU also ).
d. The Hon’ble counsel for Tamil Nadu stated that within two months strict laws will be put into place to keep a check on the sale of acid and other corrosive forms.
e. Other states and union territories will make the acid attack completely non- cognizable and non-bailable offence.

JUDGEMENT

The outcome of the Public Interest Litigation(PIL) which was filed by the Petitioner(Laxmi) was that many orders were passed and the guidelines were issued by the Supreme Court of India for the betterment of the acid attack survivors.

  • All the high level government officials were having meetings throughout whole India and the data collected showed that total acid attacks which had taken place were 282 . And an affidavit was also filed for the same reason.
  • It came into notice of court that the major acid attack cases were only in the states of Uttar Pradesh-185,Madhya Pradesh-53,Gujarat-11, and Delhi(being the only union territory were acid attack cases took place).
  • An amendment was made in Code of Criminal Procedure,1973 and a new section(357-A) was inserted. It states that every state government should prepare schemes for the purpose of compensation to the victims or dependants who have suffered injury or loss because of the crime.
  • An amendment was made in Indian Penal Code and two sections were added (326-A and 326-B) which specifically deals with the offence of acid attack.
  • Victim compensation scheme got notified throughout whole of India and an amendment was made to Indian Penal Code.
  • An amendment was made to Code of Criminal Procedure and a fresh section (357-C) was inserted in 2013.
  • Supreme Court of India issued directions to all state governments and union territories that the minimum compensation which should be payable to each acid attack victim will not be less than 3 Lakh rupees.
  • Full medical assistance and free medical aid should be given to such victims by private hospitals.
  • Acid has been declared as poison and will not be available so easily as what the case was earlier.
  • Such schemes and authorities should be made in each state/union territory for the help and benefit of such victims.
  • Treatment and payment of compensation to the victims should be done on time ,such orders and notifications throughout India were passed.
  • No victim can be refused aid or help by any clinic or hospital, and if any complaint comes then further action can be taken by the victim.

ANALYSIS

According to my personal views ,in the acid attack like cases the person who commits the offence only because of fun somewhere or because he likes that girl and don’t want that any other person should like her or maybe because he wants to marry her and she refused it, but here the offender forgets that girls do have rights same as they have got. Like ,if a girl refuses a marriage proposal then she has her right to speech and expression and can do anything according to her own will plus she has her right to privacy as well where it’s her choice to whom she wants to marry. By splashing acid over a girl’s face won’t do any benefit to the offender but he thinks that he has taken away her identity and now she can’t do anything about it, as her self confidence goes down and everyday she has to battle the whole world including herself. Though the government has inserted new laws which specifically deals with acid attack cases but still it’s not enough. New laws should be made which are more stringent in nature or life imprisonment/death sentence should be awarded to the offender. After every 2-3 years government and judiciary should review all the criminal laws present in India and should amend or insert new law wherever needed or applicable, so that before committing any offence of heinous nature the person will atleast think 10-20 times.

CONCLUSION

Laxmi’s case not only gave her a new voice and life but has also motivated and inspired other thousand’s of people to take a stand and
put forward their stance. The step she took towards the issue has changed the way a person look at the acid attack victims but rather they are not victims but the conqueror who did take a step forward despite all the issues and difficulties faced and let the world to know about their  story for motivational and awareness purpose.

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