Karnataka, India: High Court rules acid attack is attempted murder, hands down life sentence Print E-mail
 Thursday August 24, 2006

Landmark ruling
Throwing acid on women deserves severest punishment.
In a landmark judgement, the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday awarded life imprisonment to a person who threw acid on a 20-year-old girl. The trial court had earlier convicted the accused, for causing “grievous injury” and sentenced him to only five years and three months imprisonment. The High Court has now charged the accused on “attempt to murder,” stating that, “justice demands that the courts should impose punishment befitting the crime.” The accused Joseph Rodriguez threw acid on Haseena in 1999, when she left his firm and joined another establishment. A beautiful girl, Haseena is now blinded and has turned into a ghastly apparition. What is commendable about the judgement is that the court has taken a tough stand against the very act of throwing acid on women, stating that it could not “shut its eyes to the obnoxious growing tendency of young persons resorting to use corrosive substances like acid for throwing on girls, causing not only severe physical damage but also mental trauma to the victims.”

Throwing acid on a woman by mostly spurned lovers is an act of subjugating women. By disfiguring a beautiful woman, these perverted men probably go by the logic, that they have taught an arrogant woman a lesson and in the process put her in her place. In the scale of intensity of crimes, acid throwing is one of the worst and horrendous acts that can be committed by anybody, which does not only destroy the physical appearance of a woman, but also leaves her traumatised for the rest of her life. In Haseena’s case, she has been blinded and left with a hideous face. She lost her job and has been forced to lead a life in hiding, away from the eyes of society. No woman deserves that kind of punishment, whatever the cause of provocation.

It is commendable that the court has not only taken a harsh view of the crime itself, calling for the severest punishment but also taken action fairly quickly, given the long gestation period of most cases in courts. Besides awarding an additional compensation of Rs 2 lakh, plus the Rs 3 lakh compensation already awarded by the trial court, the high court has also suggested that the government start special help and rehabilitation programmes for victims of acid attacks. This is very essential, as reconstructive surgery can be very expensive and in many cases, acid victims come from poorer backgrounds and cannot afford such costly medical treatment.