Apex court surprised at high court’s leniency in acid attack case

December 11th, 2008 - 8:37 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 11 (IANS) At a time when the Supreme Court is examining if the penal laws should be amended to make punishment for throwing acid on women harsher, it has found “surprising” the Bombay High Court’s leniency towards a man convicted for an acid attack on another man.In a ruling delivered last week, but released Thursday, a bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Aftab Alam also reversed the Bombay High Court ruling, which had reduced to just 35 days the three-year jail term awarded to the convict by the trial court.

The case pertains to a Maharashtra native, Mallapa Sangramappa Mallipatil, who had thrown acid on his neighbour Vishwambhar Arayan Jadhav on Jan 25, 2002, after an altercation over a petty issue.

Jadhav sustained severe burn injuries on his chest, face and neck and was rushed to the nearest hospital for treatment.

The trial court, including the magisterial and sessions courts, awarded a three-year jail term to Mallipatil and also imposed on him a fine of Rs.3,000.

On an appeal from Mallipatil, the Bombay High Court reduced his sentence to the actual imprisonment undergone by him during his trial - 35 days.

This left the apex court surprised.

“We are surprised that the high court has, in such a heinous crime, chosen to reduce the punishment to the actual jail term undergone by the convict during his trial - a meagre 35 days,” said the apex court bench.

Scrapping the high court ruling and restoring the trial court’s sentence, the apex court ruled: “There was no occasion for the high court to interfere with the judgement of the trial court and the first appellate court.”

Ordering immediate arrest Mallipatil, the apex court said he “appears to be a person with criminal antecedents and no leniency should be shown to such a person”.

The bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan is currently hearing a public interest lawsuit seeking amendment of penal laws to provide for harsher punishment for throwing acid on women.

The lawsuit has been filed by a young Delhi girl Laxmi, who was victim of an acid attack by a man for refusing to marry him. The girl’s arms, face and other body parts were severely disfigured and deformed.

In July this year, the government told the court that it was willing to change the law to provide for harsher punishment to people involved in throwing acid, especially on women.

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