Case Study: Laxmi v. Union Of India 2014 4 SCC 427

By Shristi Khandelwal

Maya Angelou, the famous American poet, has said,
Each time a women stands for herself, she stands for all women.”

The incident of acid attack has been an increasing phenomena in India where most of the victims of the offence are women. These attacks can be attributed to various social factors such as weakness of women in such a male dominated country like India.

This blog deals with the acid attack legislations and various cases related to it. In India acid is easily available at a low cost and is an ideal tool for the perpetrator. There is no proper and strict legislation related to acid distribution in the area despite of several acid attack cases already held in India. One such case is Laxmi v Union of India.

In this matter a girl who was going to her office from her home was called by someone. Once she looked back she saw people on a bike known to her. One of them was a boy with whom she got proposal for marriage but she denied, but before she gets anything acid was thrown to her. After this her upper body was fully destroyed and she faced a lot of mental trauma as well as physical pain due to this. After many surgeries even she could get her looks back.

After this, a criminal case for attempt to murder was filed against the accused persons and they got convicted by the court of Delhi. The person convicted later got bail from High Court. This led the victim in shock. The reason given by the courts in giving bail was that the courts have no idea about severity of such situation. This led the victim file Public Interest Litigation in Supreme Court with the help of her family, friend and her lawyer with prayers related to various issues like the easy availability of acid attacks cases, expensive surgeries and medical expenses, rehabilitation help for acid attack survivors. It is a tough battle which the survivor has to face and this required a proper assistance is required from the government.

The outcome of this Public Interest Litigation was that many orders were passed by the legislations and guidelines passed by the Supreme Court of India for the betterment of acid attack survivors.

  • Meetings were held having presence of secretary of Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India and the Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India with all the Chief Secretaries/ their counterparts in the states/ UTs, in which data was collected from all over the India of acid attack cases. Affidavit was filed in court in this regards and showed that there were 282 acid attacks in all states when compiled.
  • It came into the notice of the court that the majority of the acid attacks were held in the states of UP(185), MP(53) and Gujrat(11).
  • The amendment was made in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 thrugh which Section 357-A was inserted by the Act-5 of 2009 requiring every state government, in coordination with the central government, for the purpose of compensation to the victim or their dependents, to prepare a scheme for providing funds who have suffered loss or injury as a result of the crime.
  • Amendment was made in Indian Penal Code and two section were added that is 326 A and 326 B which specifically dealt with acid attack.
  • Victim compensation scheme got notified in all states and union territories of India.
  • Direction was issued by the Supreme Court regarding the minimum compensation of Rs. 3,00,000/- per acid attack victim to be given by all States and Union Territories of India.
  • No hospital or clinic can refuse treatment by making excuse of lack of specialisation facilities and if any private hospital of government hospital, the acid attack victim can take further legal action.
  • Supreme Court of India also directed to State/Union Territory to State/ Union Territory Legal Services Authority to give wide and adequate publicity of victim Compensation Scheme in the concerned State/ Union Territory so that each acid attack victim can take the benefit of the scheme.

Malala Yousafzai in a speech of hers stated that,

“I raise up my voice – not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard … we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”

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