Friday, August 19, 2022

Supreme Court dismisses plea by advocate, convicted for acid attack, for suspension of sentence

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The Supreme Court has dismissed the plea of an advocate seeking suspension of sentence pending his appeal against conviction for acid attack on a handicapped woman.

The plea was filed by one Umesh Singh convicted under Section 326A/34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 by the trial court upon the testimony of the injured victim. The trial court said testimony is reliable and stands corroborated by the depositions of sister-in-law Rajjo as well as Dr Bimal Upadhyay who had stated that the victim had suffered chemical burns over her left side face, neck, back of the left side chest with left shoulder with upper arm and Dr Nirpen Gaur had stated that the injured victim was 30% handicapped and had no vision in the left eye upto the extent of 90% and there was scarring of the face due to burn of acid.

A bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and Abhay S. Oka today declined to interfere in the matter. However, the bench directed the High Court to expedite hearing of appeal as petitioner has undergone around 8 years of imprisonment. It also directed him to apply afresh for bail which can be considered by the High Court on its own merits.

The petitioner has approached the Supreme Court as the Delhi High Court had rejected his plea seeking suspension of sentence. It is his case that throwing acid over the face of the victim is a mere accusation and he is the sole bread earner of his family. In addition to that, his old parents are dependent upon him for support and care.

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The counsel appearing on behalf of the state submitted that the petitioner is a practicing advocate and was accused of pouring acid on the victim. Trial court had upheld the accusation and his bail application was rejected by the High Court. Moreover, if an advocate who shows this kind of conduct is granted bail then it will give a very wrong message to the society.

In his plea before the High Court, he had contended that his conviction under Section 326A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 is without authority of law since the prosecution has been unable to establish that ‘acid’ was thrown upon the victim. In other words, it is urged that since the prosecution has been unable to establish that the victim suffered ‘acid’ burns, the impugned judgment convicting appellant No. 2 (Umesh) under the provision of Section 326A IPC is perverse; and therefore appellant No. 2 (Umesh) deserves to be granted regular suspension of sentence pending decision of the appeal.

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The court had noted,

“Having heard learned counsel for the parties and having perused the trial court record, in particular the testimonies of Ms. Meera PW-4; as also the medical opinions rendered by Dr. Vimal Upadhyay PW-5; Dr. B.K. Singh PW-8; Dr. Jai Prakash Goel PW-9; Dr. Mukesh Kumar Jain PW-10; Dr. Anupam Ahuja PW-11; Dr. Pritipal Singh PW-12; Dr. Lukesh Patil PW-13; and Dr. Nripen Gaur, PW-14; and having considered the testimonies in the backdrop of Explanation I to the provision of section 326B IPC, which defines ‘Acid’ to include any substance which has acidic or corrosive character or burning nature, that is capable of causing bodily injury leading to scars or disfigurement or temporary or permanent disability, we are of the view that no good ground for regular suspension of sentence is made-out, at this stage.”

[Umesh Singh vs state of NCT of delhi]

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