On August 22, a Srinagar Court sentenced two convicts – Irshad Amin Wani and Mohd Umar Noor – to life imprisonment for orchestrating a horrific acid attack causing permanent disfigurement of the 20-year-old victim’s face. The court further imposed a hefty fine of Rs 5 lakh each upon the two convicts.
The record of the case has been submitted before the Jammu & Kashmir High Court for confirmation of the life imprisonment awarded to the two convicts for the offence punishable u/s 326A (Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by the use of acid) r/w 120B of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC).
Principal Sessions Judge Jawad Ahmed noted that the convicts, in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy, committed an “uncivilised and heartless crime” against a “young, innocent and defenceless girl (victim)” on December 11, 2014, while she was travelling to college.
“The morning of 11th of December, 2014 became a darkest and blackest morning of her life, when by the horrific act of the convicts, all hopes and dreams of her future got lost. The horrific act of the convicts was not a spontaneous act where it could have been said that they had no time to think over the repercussions of such act. The evidence has proved that 5 days before the occurrence, the convicts had made the preparation for the act when they went to a shop called Gulistan Company, Kupwara and purchased the acid from said shop against a proper bill in the name of convict No.1 for amount of Rs 450/-,” the court said.
The court noted that the acid attack upon the victim was a “well planned and an organized act of the convicts.” The court also noted that the fathers of the convicts harassed the shop owner who sold acid to the convicts after he informed the investigation agency that they purchased the acid with a proper bill.
The victim had submitted photographs before the court showcasing her before and after the acid attack. The court noted that the photographs of the victim before and after the acid attack “speak itself the extent of damage caused by the horrific act of the convicts on the face of the victim by using a corrosive substance.”
“It has not only caused physical trauma to the victim but, mental trauma as well. Her photographs after the incident but, before repairs by skin grafting, reveal that the impact of the corrosive substance was such that the bones of her head, nose, around right eye and part of her right face had got exposed. Despite 28 surgeries she has undergone, as on date, the damage has not got repaired nor there are chances of its full repair,” the court noted.
The convicts’ counsel argued that the convicts are shown leniency for reformation and brought back to society. However, the court said noted the emotional trauma of the victim and her parents. The court said while it understands the potential for rehabilitation, it has to be balanced against the irreversible damage inflicted upon the defenceless victim.
The court observed that the “scars left on the face and psyche of the victim” serve as a haunting reminder of the brutal act and forever alters the trajectory of her life. The court held that when the trauma inflicted upon the victim is compared to the chances of rehabilitation of the convicts, the “tangible loss and life-long emotional trauma” of the victim “far out-weighs” any “hypothetical chance of rehabilitation” of the convicts.
“Someone capable of holding such harmful and hateful mentality and the capability to conspire and 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 convicts’ potential for change and need to take a resolute stance against the convicts,” the court said.
The court further noted that the victim has undergone a series of 28 surgeries and has incurred an expense of Rs 37 lakh on her treatment. The court said that based on a careful consideration to the nature of the attack, the permanent disfiguration of the victim using a corrosive substance and the impact of the convicts’ actions on the future life of the victim, they do not deserve leniency but only life imprisonment.
“I find that the convicts do not deserve leniency and no other punishment except the maximum punishment of life imprisonment prescribed under law for their act can do the real and complete justice to the victim,” the court said.
The court further recommended the victim’s case to the Member Secretary, J&K Legal Service Authority in view of the enormous expenses incurred by the victim to award the maximum compensation to the victim in terms of the J&K Victim Compensation Scheme, 2019.