The courts have let down Laxmi (20).
The victim of an acid attack four years ago, when she was just 16, she filed a public interest litigation soon after demanding that those convicted for such attacks should face life imprisonment, while the sale of sulphuric acid in the open market should be banned.
But nothing has happened so far. Nine times the case has come up for hearing in the Supreme Court and all nine times the hearing has been postponed on technical grounds.
Laxmi has undergone seven surgeries on her disfigured face, but they have done her little good. She has no friends and hardly ever leaves her Kaka Nagar home.
“I wanted to be a singer, but now that’s impossible, so I’m learn to stitch professionally, as I don’t want to be a burden on my parents,” she said.
On the contrary her assailant, whom she knew, has not only not been convicted, but is married with two children.
“Our lives end with the attack whereas an assailant gets to live because he remains on bail until the case is decided. The maximum punishment imposed is 10 years,” said Laxmi, who also wanted the SC to take note of acid attack victims and order a rehabilitation scheme.
The Law Commission of India and the National Commission for Women are the only institutions to have come in Laxmi’s support.
However, three years after the PIL, the court decided to implead all states in October. Laxmi’s lawyer Aparna Bhatt says: “The order came after the Centre informed the SC the local governments were opposed to ban sale of acid in open market.”