ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the plea for acquittal filed by an acid attack convict, saying he deserved no mercy despite the claim that his victim had forgiven him for the crime.

“Acid attack offenders do not deserve any clemency,” Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa declared in this landmark judgement, while hearing an application filed by convict Javed Iqbal, who approached the apex court with an appeal against the sentence he was awarded for throwing acid on a woman, reported private TV channels.

The lawyer for the petitioner informed the SC bench that the female victim of the acid attack had “forgiven” his client. But Justice Khosa said that there could be no compromise in a case concerning an acid attack.

“The affected woman may well forgive (the convict), but the law cannot forgive an acid attack suspect,” the top judge added.

He clarified that the law regarding acid attacks was “extremely strict”, saying: “Burning someone with acid is a bigger crime than murder.”

“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.”

Justice Khosa said the petitioner had committed “extreme cruelty” by attacking the woman with acid. He said the punishment for throwing acid was life imprisonment and that it was a “crime against the state”.

“It is possible that the affected woman was threatened into going to the Supreme Court to give a statement (of forgiving the convict),” the chief justice observed. “The law cannot forgive anyone who burns someone’s face with acid,” he concluded, rejecting the convict’s plea for acquittal.

Javed 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.