Shopkeepers will soon need a licence to sell acid and a buyer will have to submit a photo identity card to purchase it.
File photo of Laxmi, an acid attack victim. HT
These are among the various steps that the Centre on Tuesday listed in front of the Supreme Court towards curbing the sale of acid in open market and thereby check acid attacks on women, which have seen a huge rise.
It is estimated that there are as many as 1,000 acid attacks a year in India.
The new rules have been framed under the poison act, which implies the regulations that apply to the sale of poison will now apply to that of acid.
Following are some of the new rules that the government is mulling to implement:
• Only licensed shopkeepers will be allowed to undertake the sale of acid.
• Sellers must also demand the identity proof, residential address, telephone number and purpose of purchsing acid, from the buyer.
• Acid sold in retail must be so diluted that it does not have any corrosive effect on humans.
• Shopkeepers will have to maintain a daily record of buyers and the quantity of acid sold.
• Acid will not be sold to anyone below the age of 18.
The ministry of home would notify the rules soon, but the onus of implementation would be on the states, the Centre’s counsel solicitor general Mohan Parasaran said.
However, pressing for urgent steps, Supreme Court on Tuesday said, "discuss the matter among themselves (Centre and states) and come up with a draft report day after tomorrow," adding the rules that have been framed would be sent to states for their approval and issuance of notifications and this process may take time.
The bench had made it clear that if the Centre fails to come out with such a scheme on the next date of hearing, July 16, then it would pass orders.
Acid, normally diluted sulphuric acid, is easily available and is sold as a cleaner.
The new set of rules came after the court on July 9 admonished the Centre for not taking acid attacks on women seriously.
A victim of such an attack, Laxmi, drew the court’s attention to the menace.
In her plea, Laxmi had sought framing of a new law or amendment to the existing criminal laws like IPC, Indian Evidence Act and CrPC for dealing with the offence, besides asking for compensation.
Laxmi was subjected to acid attack by three youths near Tughlaq Road here as she had refused to marry one of them, according to the petition. The trial is going on for the offence of attempt to murder and two of the accused are out on bail.
“People are dying, but you are not worried about it. Think of people who are losing their lives every day,” a bench of justice RM Lodha and justice SJ Mukopadhyaya had said.
The court said some steps would have to be taken in the interim – before rules become law - to stop attacks on women.
“We are of the considered view that since the frequency of acid attacks has increased, it is necessary to issue certain interim directions…,” the court said.
Parasaran and petitioner’s counsel Aparna Bhatt will have to come out with the suggestions on the interim directions.
The National Crime Records Bureau has been asked to collect data on acid attacks from states and UTs separately, the Centre said in its affidavit.
No exclusive data on acid attack cases is available as these are bracketed as either attempt to murder or grievous injury cases. The court will now hear the matter on July 18.
(With PTI inputs)
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