Sonia (name changed) cannot forget December 15, 2006. The day left a deep imprint not only on her mind but also her body.
The 21-year-old was bathing buffaloes outside her home in Mansoravar Park in East Delhi when her father’s tenant Yashpal came towards her with a steel mug in hand. Sonia thought he wanted water but instead he suddenly threw a cupful of acid on her body. Yashpal was angry as she refused to marry him.
The crowd which gathered hearing Sonia’s shrieks saw clothes melting off her body as if they were plastic. The attack was so lethal that it killed the buffaloes and left Sonia blind and disfigured for the rest of her life. The girl, who was like a mother to her four younger brothers and sisters ever since their mother died 11 years ago, suddenly became dependent on them.
Three years later, on Monday, she got justice from the Delhi High Court, which upheld the ‘exemplary’ life sentence awarded to the accused by a trial court on October 22, 2007.
Life sentence for a conviction under 326 of the Indian Penal Code (causing grievous hurt) is very rare in India. It is normally given for murder or gang rape.
Dismissing Yashpal’s appeal, a Bench of Justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Suresh Kait said: “We find no infirmity in the discretion exercised by the trial judge to award the highest possible sentence for the offence... After all, it is the duty of a court to pay heed to the society’s cry for justice.
“Burning of girls with acid on account of girls resisting lecherous advances of street romeos are increasing by the day. It is time that such acts are rewarded with commensurate punishment. The poor victim has to live her life with a disfigured face and deprived of the joys of life. She cannot enjoy the beauty of nature as she has been rendered totally blind,” said the judges.
Law Commission said
While recommending life imprisonment for the accused, in acid attack cases, the commission said, “Though acid attack is a crime which can be committed against any man or woman, it has a specific gender dimension in India. Most of the reported acid attacks have been committed on women, particularly young women, for spurning suitors, for rejecting proposals for marriage, for denying dowry, etc.”