No blanket ban on acid sale, HC tells Delhi govt to enforce rules
The order came in response to a petition filed by an acid attack survivor seeking a total ban on over-the-counter sale of acid in retail stores
The Delhi high court refused to completely ban the sale of acid in the city on Thursday, saying it would harm businesses and individuals who use it for lawful purposes.
The order came in response to a petition filed by an acid attack survivor who is actively assisting acid attack victims with aftercare, rehabilitation, legal recourse, and compensation seeking a total ban on over-the-counter sale of acid in retail stores across the Capital.
The court said that a total ban on acid sales could have unintended consequences, affecting industries where acid is used responsibly and safely and that striking a balance between public safety and the legitimate uses of acid for industrial and other regulated purposes is critical.
“Acid serves a variety of legitimate uses and applications in different industries, and a blanket prohibition could inadvertently affect businesses and individuals who require it for lawful purposes,” it said.
However, a bench of chief justice Satish Chandra Sharma and justice Sanjeev Narula directed the Delhi government to strictly enforce the existing rules and regulations governing the sale of acid and to prevent its misuse for criminal purposes.
It also ordered the government to conduct a comprehensive empirical study to assess the potential effects of a total ban on acid sales on various sectors, individuals, and businesses.
“Adopting an evidence-based approach will enable the state to understand better the existing policy, the ramifications of the petitioner’s proposed changes, and ascertain the impact on public safety, industry, and other legitimate uses of acid,” it said.
It said that engagement with various stakeholders, including advocacy groups, industry representatives, legal experts and medical professionals, can provide valuable insights. “Based on the empirical study findings, the Delhi government can analyse and identify any gaps or shortcomings in the existing regulatory scheme and make an informed decision,” it said.
The bench clarified that its decision should not be interpreted as concluding the debate on the issue and granted the petitioner the right to re-approach the court if there is any breach in implementing the regulations.
The Delhi government’s standing counsel, Santosh Kumar Tripathi, assured the court that the state was strictly implementing the rules and drew its attention to reports received from districts indicating that 50 first information reports were registered with the Delhi Police between January 1, 2022 and May 20, 2023 against those found selling acid illegally.