From Presumption to Punishment
Presumption means to ascertain some facts on the basis of possibility or the consequences of the situation and circumstances which strengthen the activity happened. Under the law, the Court on the basis of certain facts frames some inferences which are known as presumptions. Those facts are presumed as proved until and unless they are disproved. Presumption can be either affirmative or negative drawn from the circumstances through best possible way of reasoning.
Section 326 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) defines the voluntary action of causing grievous hurt which states that any person, who inflict or cause grievous hurt by any means, which is likely to cause death of the person so inflicted shall get punishment for the life imprisonment or imprisonment up to 10 years and fine. Basic essentials that can hold a person liable for the offence under this section are:
1. The person causing grievous hurt must have knowledge about the same.
2. He must be doing the act voluntarily and nobody has forced him to do it.
3. He committed the grievous hurt by the means of any instrument of shooting; stabbing or cutting; any instrument, which if used as weapon can cause death of the other person; fire or any heated substance; any poison or corrosive substance; any explosive substance; by any substance which is difficult to swallow or inhale for the human body or any animal.
The other section is 326A of IPC which provides about causing grievous hurt by the use of acid on the other person. It states that “Whoever causes permanent or partial damage or deformity to, or bums or maims or disfigures or disables, any part or parts of the body of a person or causes grievous hurt by throwing acid on or by administering acid to that person, or by using any other means with the intention of causing or with the knowledge that he is likely to cause such injury or hurt, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and with fine”. This provision says that any person who throws acid on the whole body of another person or any part thereof, which brings deformity in the body, with the intention of causing hurt or injury shall be punished with the imprisonment of 10 years and which may extend to life imprisonment and with fine.
And Section 326 B of IPC talks about attempting to cause grievous hurt by throwing acid on the other person for which the punishment is imprisonment for 5 to 7 years and fine. Presumption for crime is given under Sec. 144 of the Evidence Act, 1872 which states that “the court may presume the existence of any fact which it thinks likely to have happened, regard being had to the common course of (a) natural events, (b) human conduct, and (c) public and private business, in their relation to the facts of the particular case”. It means that the Courts have power to presume any fact which it thinks can happen with regard to the natural events, human conduct and public or private business. There are three types of presumptions:
May Presume- Here, the Court has the discretion to presume certain facts and circumstances.
Shall Presume – Here, the Court has a strong assertion to consider certain facts and circumstances.
Conclusive Presumption – Here, the Court has the absolute power to presume and shall not allow any proofs against such presumption.
ACID ATTACKS IN INDIA
In the last few years, the cases of acid attacks have increased with high rates in India. Earlier acid was being used in households for cleaning purposes but now it is being used to take revenge. Under Section 326A of IPC, Acid includes any substance which is of acidic or corrosive character and has a burning nature that can cause bodily injury leading to the scars, disfigurement, or temporary or permanent disability. Throwing acid is the most vicious crime which is being done by people, generally, just because they are not able to handle the rejection and they consider and treat women as a thing and not a human being. Land, property, and/or business disputes accounted for 20% of acid assaults in India from 2002 to 2010. Land, property, and/or business disputes accounted for 20% of acid assaults in India from 2002 to 2010 . There are many cases regarding this, like Devanand v. The State  where a man threw acid on his wife because she refused to live together with him. She suffered permanent disfigurement and loss of one eye.
The accused was punished with imprisonment of 7 years under Section 307. This act results in the imperfection or disfigurement in the body and Mental and physical trauma to the victim and her family. The medical effects of the acid attacks are very extensive. This also affects the social, economical and personal life of the victim and her family. There was no law to deal with this problem till 2012. In 2012 the 18th Law Commission of India proposed new sections to be added in IPC, i.e. Section 326A and 326B which provides about causing grievous hurt by throwing acid and attempting to throw acid on a person, respectively and Section 144B in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 which provides about the presumption in the case of acid attacks. These amendments were done in order to punish the offenders who are indulging into the activities of throwing acid. Man chose acid as an alternative form of offence to take revenge and ruin the lives of women.
PRESUMPTION IN CRIMES LIKE ACID ATTACKS
Presumption in crime means to presume that certain facts can be true according to the circumstances of the case until they are disproved. Under Section 114 of the Evidence Act, 1872, the Court may presume any fact which it deems fit to have happened, while considering the common course of natural events, human conduct and public and private business. Presumption for any fact can be made but that should be within the ambit of common parlance of the natural events, while considering human conduct and public and private business. Section 114 B of the Act, 1872 provides for the presumption in the cases of acid attacks. It says that if any person throws or attempts to throw or administer acid on the other person then the Court shall presume that the act has been done with the intention or with knowledge that it is going to cause hurt or injury as provided under the Section 326A of IPC. These provisions were added in the Evidence Act and IPC under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 after Mukesh and Ors. v. State for NCT of Delhi  (Nirbhaya Rape Case).
In the case of the State of Maharashtra v. Ankur Narayanlal Panwar , (Preethi Rathi’s Case) the girl refused the marriage proposal of the boy and boy out of jealousy took revenge by throwing acid on her face. The accused was held liable and was punished with the death penalty which was later commuted to imprisonment for life for the offence he committed. The Court said that “In the present case, the Trial Court has not applied its mind to the aforesaid factors. The accused was a young boy aged about 23 years. There is no past criminal record. The mitigating circumstances reflected as referred to in the aforesaid decision, were not considered in proper perspective by the Trial Court. Taking into consideration over all circumstances, we do not find that present case can be termed as "rarest of the rare" case and hence the appellant do not deserve death penalty. Hence, the sentence of death penalty is required to be set aside while confirming the conviction”.
These crimes are increasing day by day in the country. So, there is still a need for harsher punishment which can only be done by the Parliament. The legislature should frame such stringent laws that the offender thinks multiple times before committing a crime, then only the number of such offences can be reduced. Therefore, there is the requirement of making more strict laws to fill up the loop holes of the Criminal Justice System.
1. https://www.lawctopus.com/academike/the-corroding-faces-of-indian-women-acid-attack/ (Last Visited on 26th October, 2020)
2. Devanand v. The State, [(1987) 31 DLT 184]
3. Mukesh and Ors. v. State for NCT of Delhi (Nirbhaya Rape Case), [(2017) 6 SCC 1]
4. State of Maharashtra v. Ankur Narayanlal Panwar (Preethi Rathi’s case) [2019(4)BomCR(Cri)143]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This blog has been authored by Dipti Jain, who is a 4th Year B.Com., LL.B. student at Jamnalal Bajaj School of Legal Studies, Banasthali Vidyapeeth, Rajasthan.
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