Not satisfied with the steps taken by the Centre to regulate sale of acid, the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Union home ministry to convene a meeting with the state chief secretaries to formulate a policy to address the menace.
A bench headed by Justice RM Lodhagot annoyed when the government said the sale of acid was one of the issues discussed at the meeting convened by the home secretary. It presented a two-page note which named 13 states that have started compensating acid attack victims.
Observing the government’s response was not satisfactory, the bench expressed concern at the incidents of acid attack. It gave the Centre six weeks to convene the meeting that would also discuss framing of a law for treatment and compensation to victims. The bench fixed April 16 to hear the matter further.
This is the second time the apex court has asked the Centre to formulate a policy to rehabilitate acid attack victims.
On July 2, last year, it had directed the Centre to appraise it of the measures to regulate the sale of acid and prevent its misuse as a weapon against women. It had also directed the home ministry to coordinate with various states and Union Territories to formulate an appropriate scheme for rehabilitating acid attack victims.
Though the court directions did not yield effective results, the recent public outrage following the December 16, 2012 Delhi gangrape and murder of a 23-year-old woman prompted the government to undertake steps to introduce stringent punishment in crimes against women. The latest ordinance amending certain sections of the IPC also included identifying acid attack as a standalone criminal offence.
Under the new provision a person shall be punished with life imprisonment if found guilty of acid attack. The minimum sentence of 10 years and fine of R10 lakh has also been prescribed in the amendment.