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End gender bias to stop acid attacks, says Supreme Court

THE ASIAN AGE. | J VENKATESAN
Published : Aug 13, 2017, 2:09 am IST
Updated : Aug 13, 2017, 2:53 am IST

SC faults Calcutta HC for acquitting the main accused, reverses findings and awards life term to accused in a rape and murder case.

The victim was raped and thereafter acid was thrown at her, and she succumbed to injuries in September 1998. (Representational Image)
 The victim was raped and thereafter acid was thrown at her, and she succumbed to injuries in September 1998. (Representational Image)

New Delhi: Having stringent laws and enforcement agencies may not be sufficient unless deep-rooted gender bias is removed from the society to reduce acid attack incidents on hapless women, the Supreme Court has said.

In its judgment on Friday, a Bench of Justices Prafulla C. Pant and N.V. Ramana, in separate but concurring judgments, faulted the Calcutta high court for acquitting the main accused. It reversed the findings and awarded life sentence to accused Purnendu Kumar Patra and confirmed the acquittal of co-accused Rabin Jana. The victim was raped and thereafter acid was thrown at her, and she succumbed to injuries in September 1998.

The trial court awarded death sentence to Patra and life term to Rabin, but the high court acquitted both of them. The state of West Bengal and Suresh Chandra Jana, brother of the victim, filed the present appeals.

In his judgment, Justice Ramana said usually vitriolage or acid attack has transformed itself as a gender-based violence. Acid attacks not only cause damage to the physical appearance of its victims but also cause immense psychological trauma, thereby becoming a hurdle in their overall development. “Although we have acknowledged the seriousness of the acid attack when we amended our laws in 2013, yet the number of acid attacks are on the rise. Moreover, this court has been passing various orders to restrict the availability of corrosive substance in the market, which is an effort to nip this social evil in the bud,” the judge said.

Justice Ramana said the facts in this case lament a story of a helpless woman who was raped and subsequently punished for raising her voice, which ultimately led to her demise. It must be recognised that having stringent laws and enforcement agencies may not be sufficient unless deep-rooted gender bias is removed from the society. The basic requirement that a trial must be fair is crucial for any civilised criminal justice system. It is essential in a society, which recognises human rights and is based on values such as freedoms, the rule of law, democracy and openness.  He said the whole purpose of the trial is to convict the guilty and at the same time protect the innocent.

Tags: supreme court, acid attacks, calcutta high court
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi