ISLAMABAD: In a historic decision, Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa on Thursday rejected the acquittal plea of acid attack convict who was “pardoned” by his victim, maintaining that heinous act was a bigger crime than murder.
He announced the verdict while heading a three-member bench of apex court that was hearing convict Javed Iqbal’s application against the sentence he was handed down for throwing acid on a woman.
Iqbal’s counsel informed the court that the woman who was attacked by his client had forgiven him.
In response, Justice Khosa remarked that the woman could have been coerced into “forgiving” the offender.
“No matter if the victim has pardoned the convict, there can be no compromise in such cases and the law cannot forgive an acid attacker,” he observed. “Acid attackers don’t deserve any mercy.”
The judge further noted that attacking someone with acid was a “crime against the state”.
“The law dealing with such cases is very strict and burning someone with acid is an act of extreme cruelty.”
Iqbal, who is a resident of Chiniot, Punjab, was sentenced to life imprisonment for throwing acid on his neighbour.
Acid violence is one of the worst forms of gender-based violence in Pakistan. This heinous act is usually instigated by family disputes, refusal of a marriage proposal and family ‘honour’ issues. Perpetrators usually intend to disfigure rather than kill their victims, resulting in lifelong bodily disfigurement as well as severe emotional and psychological trauma.
Many cases go unaddressed because of the cultural stigma of reporting crimes—women, especially, fear possible bias in courts, unsupportive family dynamics, astronomical legal fees, and potential repercussions from their attackers.