The Supreme Court came to the relief of an acid attack victim from Telangana as it ordered Rs 3.5 lakh compensation for her and one-year jail term for the accused, whose punishment the high court had reduced to 30 days — time already spent behind bars — despite holding him guilty.
Shocked at the HC’s lenient approach towards the accused, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and R Bhanumathi restored the rigorous one year imprisonment the accused was handed out by the trial court. State government was directed to pay Rs 3 lakh of the compensation amount and the court asked the accused to give the balance.
“…the approach of the HC shocks us and we have no hesitation in saying so. When there is medical evidence that there was an acid attack on the young girl and the circumstances having brought home by cogent evidence and the conviction is given the stamp of approval, there was no justification in reducing the sentence to already undergone,” the SC said.
The judges said it was impossible to understand the logic that guided the HC to show an “unknown notion of mercy” to the accused in a case where society “at large eagerly waits for justice to be done in accordance with law.”
The SC verdict came on the victim’s petition challenging the HC order in a 13-year-old case. The woman was attacked in 2003 because her family had turned down the accused’s proposal to marry her. The trial court held the man guilty, imposed a one year punishment and was directed to pay a fine of Rs 5,000. On a challenge, the HC upheld the conviction, but reduced the jail term to the period already undergone.
Since the state did not appeal against the HC verdict, the victim approached the top court. Her counsel Aparna Bhat contended punishment of 30 days in jail cannot be appropriate for the offence committed .
The counsel for the accused argued the occurrence took place long back and with time, both were leading separate married lives. He asked the court not to interfere with the verdict.
But, the SC relied on the verdict in the Laxmi case and modified both the sentence and fine.