Those found guilty of throwing acid on women and girls, causing grievous hurt to them, could soon have to spend the rest of their lives in jail and pay Rs 10 lakh compensation to the victims.
A six-member expert group set up by the government to examine the issue has recommended changes in the existing law to classify acid attacks as a separate offence in the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The draft Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill prepared by a group of secretaries headed by home secretary GK Pillai has recommended a jail term from 10 years to a maximum of life imprisonment for those found guilty of acid attacks.
The draft bill proposes amendments in the Criminal Procedure Code Indian Evidence Act also, based on demands made by the National Commission for Women and NGOs.
The group has also proposed a Rs 10 lakh fine on the guilty, which would have to paid to the victim as compensation.
"It has been recommended that two new clauses be added in the relevant section of the IPC which deal with grievous hurt caused by a dangerous weapon or means — Section 326 — to pinpoint the offence of acid attacks," said a senior government official.
The proposed clause A would prescribe the punishment for the intentional act of throwing acid to cause burns, disfiguring of the body and disabling any part of the body.
Clause B would deal with an attempt to carry out the offence, which could not succeed for any reason but the intention of the accused was to cause maximum harm. Those guilty of such an attempt would face a jail term ranging from five to 10 years.