Serving Justice To Victims Of Barbaric Acid Attack

Published by: Lawphoria

Last updated on April 15, 2022


Article 21 of the constitution of India, 1950 provides that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by Law. The court in Board of Trustees of the Port of Bombay v. Dilipkumar Raghavendranath Nandkarni 1 , came to hold that “the right to life” guaranteed by Article 21 includes “the right to livelihood”. The five-judge bench of the Supreme Court in Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation 2 , popularly known as the “Pavement Dwellers Case” implied that ‘right to livelihood’ is borne out of the ‘right to life’, as no person can live without the means of living, that is, the means of Livelihood.

Furthermore, the court, in this case, observed that:

“The sweep of the right to life conferred by Art.21 is wide and far-reaching. It does not mean, merely that life cannot be extinguished or taken away as, for example, by the imposition and execution of death sentence, except according to procedure established by law. That is but one aspect if the right to life. An equally important facet of the right to life is the right to livelihood because no person can live without the means of livelihood.”

If the right to livelihood is not treated as a part and parcel of the constitutional right to life, the easiest way of depriving a person of his right to life would be to deprive him of his means of livelihood to the point of abrogation. Acid attacks completely go against the right to livelihood. Acid attacks could be one of the worst acts that a human being can do. These attacks are one of the ways patriarchal India manifests itself. In these attacks, strong acid is thrown at (almost always) a young woman’s face/body as an act of revenge by young man/men. Acid attacks usually happen because of the misogynist culture impregnated into the psyche of males like ‘How could she challenge the norms?’ and ‘How could she not be submissive?’ such attacks usually takes place in matters of love, land disputes, family disputes, dowry cases, betrayal and even because of small reasons like jealousy. Such incidents not just destroy the victim’s facial structure but also her life and career. Victims of such attack go through utmost horrible pain which not all of us can neither understand nor imagine. These incidents also happen because we all turn blind-eye to such attacks and abuses (physical/mental/verbal). The attacker sometimes in order to take out frustration over the weaker sex executes such attack which completely ruins the face along with the life of victim. This again goes completely against the right to live with dignity. In Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India [3] , the Supreme Court gave a new dimension to Art. 21 and held that the right to live is not merely a physical right but includes within its ambit the right to live with human dignity. Elaborating the same view, the Court in Francis Coralie v. Union Territory of Delhi [4] , observed that:

“The right to live includes the right to live with human dignity and all that goes along with it, viz., the bare necessities of life such as adequate nutrition, clothing and shelter over the head and facilities for reading writing and expressing oneself in diverse forms, freely moving about and mixing and mingling with fellow human beings and must include the right to basic necessities the basic necessities of life and also the right to carry on functions and activities as constitute the bare minimum expression of human self.”

Therefore, such acts are horrible and completely go against the fundamental Rights guaranteed by Indian constitution and every possible measure should be taken to curb such incidents.


Despite stricter laws and punishments for the criminals of acid attacks, India still faces an increase in the acid attacks. The perpetrators are usually let free in the light of legal complications and power struggles. These are the reasons why an amendment should be made in the currently existing act for such attacks. Currently, section 326A and 326B in the code vide Criminal law (amendment) act 13 of 2013 deals with specific provisions for punishment in cases of causing grievous hurt by the use of acid. These laws are not sufficient and hence, there is a need for an amendment. The Law can also include the following provisions:

  1. The victim, who cannot work, shall get a pension of Rs. 10,000 per month.
  2. The victim shall get all the medical expenses until his/her final inclusion in society. Each victim shall also get an additional compensation of Rs. 1,00,000 for other expenses.
  3. The Central government and the state government shall make a separate fund which deal with compensation and expenses payable to victims of such incidents.
  4. The state government shall set up recreation and rehabilitation centre for the victims of such incidents in their state.
  5. It shall be the duty of state government to maintain records of acid manufactured, acid stored and acid sold.

In Pravat Kumar Mukherjee v. Ruby General Hospital & Others [5] , it was held that a hospital is duty bound to accept accident victims and patients who are in critical condition and that it cannot refuse treatment on the ground that the victim is not in a position to pay the fee or meet the expenses or on the ground that there is no close relation of the victim available who can give consent for medical treatment. So, free and compulsory medical treatment must be provided to the victims of such barbaric acts which shall extend to the complete treatment and not just merely providing first aid.


The victims of acid attack become living dead and this is also one of the reasons for which death penalty should be included in the penal provision. The victims are left with irreparable face and they either die due to the injuries or they commit suicide after series of mental and physical agony. They become helpless because they find it difficult to lead a normal life. They have to go through several painful operations and plastic surgeries which make them financially and mentally weak. The victims of acid attack and the cries if the pain which raised with the attack falls on the deaf ears. No one actually seems to take an action on that. The attack leaves them with the signs that will hurt forever; it gives them the pain of getting punished for what was never their fault not only on their face but also on their heart. Therefore, it is important for the government to join hands with the society and act now to stop such a heinous crime. Bodies like Acid Survivors Foundation India and Stop Acid Attacks should be encouraged and workshops should be organized by the government in collaboration with NGOs for motivating peoples against such crimes and for promoting gender equality. Men and women should be treated equally and the sense of patriarchy should be reduced which will ultimately lead to greater good and peace among all. Napoleon Bonaparte, one of the history’s most prominent military leaders once said “There are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit. In the long run, the sword will always be conquered by the spirit.” This quote fits best in the case of Acid attack; the victims fight hard for their survival, they boost up their inner strength and their dedication towards life can always be inferred. They are the proof that strong spirit and strong determination can never be defeated.

Authored by:- Rudra Shandilya ,Disha Chaturvedi

Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University, Visakhapatnam


  1. AIR 1983 SC 109: (1983) 1 SCC 124.

  2. AIR 1986 SC 180.

  3. 1978 AIR 597, 1978 SCR (2) 621.

  4. 1981 AIR 746, 1981 SCR (2) 516.

  5. II (2005) CPJ 35 NC.

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