SC bans over-the-counter sale of acid, orders compensation for victims

The Supreme Court passed an interim order on regulating the sale of acid at retail outlets in market across the country.

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday passed an interim order on regulating the sale of acid at retail outlets in market across the country.

The court banned over-the-counter sale of acid at retail outlets and ordered a compensation of Rs 3 lakh to be paid by the state governments to each acid attack victim.

An apex court bench headed by Justice RM Lodha said an acid attack victim would be paid Rs 1 lakh within 15 days of the incident and the remaining Rs 2 lakh would be given within two months for treatment.

The court issued detailed directions for regulating the sale of acid at retail outlets.

"Over-the-counter sale of acid is completely prohibited unless the seller maintains a log/register recording ... the details of the person(s) to whom acid (s) is/are sold, the quantity sold and shall contain the address of the person to whom it is sold," the court said in an interim order.

The court said that the violation of its directions "shall attract prosecution under the Poisons Act, 1919" and "the SDM shall be vested with the responsibility of fining the violators and initiating prosecution".

The court direction came on a public interest litigation filed by acid attack victim Laxmi seeking the regulation of the sale of acid.

The petitioner also sought provision for treatment and rehabilitation and compensation for acid attack victims.

Directing that no acid would be sold to any person below the age of 18 years, the court said that the seller would declare all the stock available with him to the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) within 15 days from the date of the notification of the rules by the state governments.

Retail outlets having licence to sell acid will maintain a stock register and failing to do so or possessing unaccounted acid will lead to a fine of Rs 50,000, the court said.

The court said all the states which already have rules to regulate the sale of acid will reinforce them and those who don`t have them will frame them within three months in accordance with the model rules framed by the central government.

The court said the rules should be made stringent as has been spelt out in the model rules framed by the government.
The SC has asked medical and educational institutions requiring acid in bulk to take permission of Sub-Divisional Magistrate before making the purchase.

These institutions will delegate a person accountable for the possession and safe upkeep of acid and "there shall be compulsory checking of students leaving the laboratories where acid is used", the court said.

The judges said their order "shall be translated into vernacular languages and publicised in local newspapers and television channels".

After being slammed by the Supreme Court, the government has framed the model rules to regulate the sale of acid throughout the country through retail outlets.

The model rules framed by the government seek to regulate the grant of licences and also impose restrictions on the people to whom it could be sold.

They also mandate maintenance of proper registers recording the sale of acid and by identifying the buyer to keep track of all sales.
According to the rules, no person, not exempted under the provision of the Poison Act would engage in the sale of or possession of the poison (acid).

They provide for the duration of licence, discretion of licensing authority, termination of licence, disposal of stocks on termination, revocation or cancellation of license, the person or firm whom license could be granted etc.

A licence holder shall not sell any poison to any person, unless the later is personally known to him or identified to his satisfaction by way of identity proof.

(With IANS inputs)

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