Srinagar Court Sentences Man To Life In Jail And Fines Him Rs 40 Lakh For Throwing Acid On A Woman Who Rejected His Marriage Proposal

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Case Title: UT of J&K vs Sajid Altaf Sheikh

In a recent ruling by a Srinagar court, a man was handed a life sentence and directed to pay a fine of Rs 40 lakh for perpetrating an acid attack on a 26-year-old woman who declined his proposal of marriage in 2022.

The court emphasized that the severity of the offense warranted no leniency, leading to the imposition of the harshest penalty allowed under Section 326A of the Indian Penal Code, specifically addressing acid attacks.

The bench said Having regard to the nature of the attack, the permanent disfiguration caused to the victim by the use of corrosive substance by the convict and the impact of the disfiguration on the future life of the victim both physical and emotional, I find that the convict does not deserve leniency and no other punishment except the maximum punishment of life imprisonment prescribed under law for his act can do the real and complete justice to the victim,” 

The trial court acknowledged that the acid attack had significantly altered the survivor’s life trajectory, resulting in enduring physical and psychological trauma due to the irreversible damage inflicted, the court said “No one can imagine the plight of the poor parents of the victim, every day they have to look at the mangled face of their daughter. They have also to live their life with this emotional trauma”.

While rejecting the plea of the convict and his sister for a lenient punishment, the bench said “When the loss and trauma suffered by the victim is compared with the mitigating circumstances and the ‘chance’ of rehabilitation of the convict, the tangible loss and life-long emotional trauma suffered by the victim by the horrible act committed by the convict far out-weighs any hypothetical chance of rehabilitation of the convict. Someone capable of holding such harmful and hateful mentality and the capability to willingly go through with it over a matter as trivial as envy and jealousy cannot be trusted to be reintegrated into the society. In such circumstances, the court is compelled to prioritize the sufferings of the victim as against the convict’s potential for change and need to take a resolute stance against the convict”.

The acid attack took place in the year 2022, when the survivor was returning home from her work place, the convict threw sulfuric acid on her.

She has undergone 23 reconstructive surgeries to date, with an expenditure of approximately ₹48 lakh incurred.

Before the attack, the accused had threatened that he would disfigure the survivor’s face if she did not marry him, after which the attack took place.

In light of this, the Court noted that the acid attack was a deliberate and orchestrated act committed by the convict.

During the sentencing phase, the court considered testimonies from the survivor, who detailed the challenges endured following the attack. The survivor implored the court to levy the maximum penalty on the convict to prevent other women from experiencing similar trauma. Additionally, the survivor received assistance from Sehar Nazir, another victim of an acid attack, whose case resulted in two individuals receiving life imprisonment from the same court in a previous ruling.

The Court ultimately decided to reject the convict’s plea for leniency.

The bench said “It has been argued by the counsel for the convict that the convict is young, a first offender so a lenient view may be taken while awarding sentence to him so that he is reformed and is brought back to the society. If this argument is accepted then what would happen to the victim”.

The judge remarked that as a result of the acid attack, the victim has endured facial disfigurement and now faces the daunting prospect of an altered quality of life through no fault of her own.

Subsequently, the Court sentenced the perpetrator to life imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 40 lakh, stipulating that the sum should be disbursed to the survivor. Furthermore, the Court recommended the case to the Member Secretary of the Jammu and Kashmir Legal Service Authority for additional compensation under the Jammu and Kashmir Victim Compensation Scheme, 2019.

This compensation would supplement the interim amounts of Rs 3 lakh from the District Legal Services Authority and Rs 1 lakh from the civil administration already received by the survivor.

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