Supreme Court of India on Compensation for acid attack victims

Ravada Sasikala v. State of Andhra Pradesh & Anr.


The Supreme Court in the present acid attack case dealt with the imposition of sentence and its proportionality with the crime in question. It was alleged that the victim was attacked with acid as her family did not accept the marriage proposal of the accused. The accused trespassed into her house and poured a bottle of acid over her head. The elder brother of the accused proposed a marriage alliance between the accused and the victim which was not accepted by her family. It has been established beyond a trace of doubt by the ocular testimony and the medical evidence that some part of her body was disfigured due to the acid attack.

The judgment of the High Court was reversed and the trial court order was restored. The Court observed that when there is medical evidence of acid attack on the young girl and the circumstances having brought home by cogent evidence and the conviction given the stamp of approval, there was no justification for the High Court to reduce the sentence to the period already undergone. The society at large eagerly waits for justice to be done in accordance with law. When a substantive sentence of thirty days is imposed, in the crime of acid attack on a young girl, the sense of justice, is not only ostracized, but also is unceremoniously sent to “Vānaprastha”. The Court also opined that appellant is entitled to compensation that is awardable to a victim under the CrPC.

The Court reiterated earlier judgments where it was held that punishment is designed to protect society by deterring potential offenders as also by preventing the guilty party from repeating the offence, also to reform the offender and reclaim him as a law abiding citizen for the good of the society as a whole. Reformatory, deterrent and punitive aspects of punishment thus play their due part in judicial thinking while determining the question of awarding appropriate sentence. Protection of society on the one hand and the reformation of an individual are the facets to be kept in view.

In Laxmi v. Union of India & Ors.[(2014) 4 SCC 427], the Supreme Court directed that the acid attack victims shall be paid compensation of at least Rs 3 lakhs by the State Government/Union Territory concerned as the aftercare and rehabilitation cost. Of this amount, a sum of Rs. 1 lakh was directed to be paid to such victim within 15 days of occurrence of such incident (or being brought to the notice of the State Government/Union Territory) to facilitate immediate medical attention and expenses in this regard. The balance sum of Rs.2 lakhs was directed to be paid as expeditiously as possible and positively within two months thereafter.

The Supreme Court took into consideration various other judgments such as State of M.P. v. Mehtaab [(2015)5SCC 197], Suresh v. State of Haryana [(2015)2SCC 227], State of Himachal Pradesh v. Ram Pal [(2015)11SCC 584], and Manohar Singh v. State of Rajasthan and Ors. [(2015)3SCC 449] on the quantum of punishment. It directed the accused to pay a compensation of Rs.50,000/- and the State to pay a compensation of Rs.3 lakhs to the victim.