States told to frame rules to regulate acid sale

PTI, NEW DELHI | 18 July 2013 18:15 IST

The Supreme Court on Thursday 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.

The court also directed that acid attack victims shall be paid a compensation of at least Rs three lakh by the state government concerned as an after-care and rehabilitation cost for such victims. 

A bench headed by Justice R M Lodha said that the states and UTs, which have not regulated acid sale, to issue guidelines based on the model draft rules framed by the central government. 

"The Chief Secretaries of respective states and administrators of each Union Territory shall ensure compliance of this order expeditiously and frame rules within three months after receiving the model draft rules from the central government," it said. 

The bench also asked the central and state governments to work together and make the necessary rules under the Poison Act, 1919 for making acid attack a non-bailable offence. 

The bench, which is hearing a PIL filed in 2006 by Delhi-based acid attack victim Laxmi who was then a minor, also passed a slew of interim directions on various issues including sale of acids. 

Perusing the compensation schemes of 17 states and seven UTs, the bench observed that the amount which is being paid is "grossly inadequate". 

"It cannot be overlooked that acid attack victims need to undergo a series of plastic surgeries and other corrective treatment. Having regard to this, the Solicitor General suggested to us that the compensation amount to be paid by states to acid attack victims must be enhanced to at least Rs three lakh. 

"The suggestion is very fair. We accordingly direct that the acid attack victims shall be paid a compensation of at least Rs three lakh by the state government concerned as an after-care and rehabilitation cost for such victims," the court said.

During the hearing, Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran said that the states of Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Haryana, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya have already framed rules to regulate the sale of acids and corrosive substances. 

On July 16, the Centre had told the apex court that in view of growing incidents of acid attacks, it has framed the Poisons Possession and Sale Rules, 2013, under the existing Poison Act, 1919, to regulate retail sale of acid and other poisonous substances. 

Taking note of the rules, the court had asked the Centre to send the regulations to the states and UTs for their approval and issuance of notifications. 

It had also said it may not consider banning the sale of acid in retail if the proposed rules and regulations are enforced. 

Earlier, the apex court had slammed the Centre for not being "serious" about framing a policy to curb the sale of acids in order to prevent attacks. 

In her petition, Laxmi, whose arms, face and other body parts had suffered disfiguration in the 2005 acid attack, had sought framing of a new law or amendment to the existing criminal laws like Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act and Criminal Procedure Code for dealing with the offence, besides asking for compensation. 

Laxmi had been attacked 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. 

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