New Delhi: Anguished over the death of a woman who was forced to drink acid for refusing to stay with a man, Delhi High Court has directed the police to deal acid attacks with an "iron hand" and take stern steps to curb its illegal sale.
A bench of justices G S Sistani and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal issued the direction while upholding the life term awarded to Umesh Kumar, an auto driver, who had murdered a 30-year-old married women on account of her refusal to live with him.
Holding that the trial court has rightly convicted and sentenced Kumar, the high court said "no effort has been made during investigation to investigate the source from where the acid was procured by the appellant."
"Throwing of acid on helpless victims, mostly women, is on the rise, which is a dastardly and cowardly act and the same is to be controlled with an iron hand. It sometimes leaves them disfigured, blind and, as in this case, death," the court said.
It also said that the investigating officer had not performed his duty "with sincerity as efforts should have been made to ascertain the source of acid and to take necessary steps against the sale of acid illegally."
"Accordingly, we deem it appropriate that a copy of this order be brought to the notice of Commissioner of Police, who will ensure that strong action is taken against the persons, who sell acid illegally and a circular be issued to the Department to ensure that every effort should be made to curb sale of acid illegally and, those found guilty should be punished with a heavy hand," the judges added.
The court was hearing Kumar's appeal against the trial court's November 2011 decision, sentencing him to undergo life imprisonment for murder of deceased Suman.
As per the police, Suman had married Nagender Kumar Gupta in 1998.
"Two years prior to the incident, Suman had left her husband and married Kumar. However, she had later left Kumar and came back to her house," the police said, adding that Kumar "telephoned Suman to return and threatened her that in case she did not return he would kidnap her child".
Annoyed over Suman's refusal to return, on November 15, 2006 when the victim was alone in her house, Kumar reached there and made her drink acid and later poured acid on her body too, the police said.
"In the light of the above, we find that there is no merit in the appeal and the same is accordingly dismissed," the court said.