“Kitna achha hota agar acid bikta hi nai, bikta hi nai to phir fikta bhi nai!!” – Chhapak
This famous dialogue from a Bollywood movie clearly depicts the pain and hopelessness of a victim when she was being attacked for nothing but denial. It clearly shows how insensitive and callous we have become as a society.
Acid attack is one of the most gruesome and brutal crime. Most of the acid attack victims are women. Men have also been the preys, but they’re minimal in numbers compared to the women. Section 326A & 326B in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) lays down the punishment for acid attacks. The minimum punishment is 10 years’ imprisonment which can be extended up to life imprisonment along with a penalty. But this punishment is not enough for such criminal minds who think it is okay to distribute, torture or kill an innocent person if she is refusing his so-called lusty love, or they can’t digest a marriage refusal. Conflicts regarding property or land disputes have also been reported as reasons for acid attacks. Attacks against individuals are also based on their religion and religious beliefs or socio-political activities.
The crime data for 2018 from the National Crime Bureau (NCRB) exhibits, the cases of acid attacks are constantly being transferred and delayed even though there are fast-track courts to handle these cases but unfortunately they do not seem fast enough!
Why do they take months and years to pronounce a decision?
Why can’t they declare the verdict in such cases as soon as possible? So that the attackers at least fear the law before committing such heinous crime.
If nearly 90% of cases in a year are being transferred for trial to the following year, how can a survivor get justice or can even hope for it?
This is shown by the data; in Indian courts, 523 cases were slated for trial in 2018 which are adding to the 407 cases in 2016 and 442 in 2017. Many such cases of acid attacks occur but never get filed because in multiple cases, settlements are done outside the courts or several other factors come into play like class, caste, power, religion, etc.
The percentage of cases that the courts cleared out of the cases that went for the trial, was 6.6% (27 cases out of 407) in 2016; 9.9% (44 cases out of 442) in 2017 and 6.11% (32 cases out of 523) in 2018 respectively.
The total number of cases of acid attacks that police investigated dropped consistently- 196 cases in 2016, 182 in 2017 and 150 in 2018.
While the attempt to commit such sin has increased in the last three years. The growth of the conviction rate is almost negligible. 2.45 per cent cases in 2016, 3.39 per cent in 2017 and 3.36 per cent in 2018 respectively.
Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have been reporting the most number of acid attack cases in between 2016 and 2018 as per the NCRB data.
India, the country with the most number of acid attacks has the least number of convictions, even less than 5%. At least one case of acid attack takes place daily in India.
Supreme Court has ordered all the state governments to regulate the sale of acid in an attempt to stop or at least reduce these crimes. The court said that acid should not be sold to anyone below the age of 18, and that too only to the person who shows a valid identity card. And if anyone doesn’t follow the rules it will be a non-bailable offence. But all these rules and regulations are found to be just in paper. Anyone can still walk into a store and purchases a bottle of acid. The non-bailable charges also have loopholes through which the attackers get through easily and roam around freely while the victims undergo reconstructive surgeries and are bound to visit hospitals after hospitals.
The pathetic thing is that with a bottle of liquid that would cost a demon just Rs.10, he can degrade anyone’s life within seconds.