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The Supreme Court today directed states and union territories to frame rules to regulate sale of acids and other corrosive substances within three months and make acid attack a non-bailable offence.
To put a stop to the growing number of acid attacks, the Supreme Court on Thursday clamped down on the sale of the toxic liquid and also ordered higher compensation for the victims.
Issuing stringent guidelines, the top court told the government to make illegal sale and purchase of acid a non-bailable offence.
A bench of justice RM Lodha and justice SJ Mukopadhyaya also ordered states to pay Rs 3 lakh as after-care and rehabilitation cost to acid attack victims within two months. Of the money, Rs 1 lakh will have to be given within 15 days of the incident.
“It cannot be overlooked that acid attack victims need to undergo a series of plastic surgeries and other corrective treatment,” the bench said, adding the compensation scheme of 17 states and seven union territories was grossly inadequate.
The order came seven years after Laxmi, 22, an acid attack survivor, moved the court, citing loopholes in the law and inadequate government policies. Her public interest litigation also demanded compensation.
A minor, Laxmi was waiting for a bus in Delhi’s tony Khan Market in 2005 when two men poured acid on her after she refused to marry one of them, leaving her disfigured.There are no official figures available but it is estimated there are 1,000 acid attacks a year in India.
The court’s guidelines will remain in place till the Centre notifies its rules and states adopt them. The court has set a three-month deadline for it, asking the Centre and states to undertake necessary changes under the Poison Act, 1919 to make the sale and purchase of acid in violation of the rules a non-bailable offence.
As reported by HT on July 17, the sellers will need a licence to sell acid and will have to maintain a record of sales as well as the buyers. Only a person carrying a government-issued photo identity card with residential address will be allowed to buy acid, which will not be sold to a minor.
Sellers will have to disclose stock to authorities and will be fined Rs 50,000 for undeclared stockpile.
In the aftermath of the December 16 gang rape, the government had amended the Indian Penal Code, making acid attack an offence punishable with 10 years to life imprisonment.
Acid sold in retail must be so diluted that it does not have any corrosive effect on humans.