The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up the Centre for not formulating a policy to regulate/ban retail sale of acid across the country, even as it expressed serious concern over acid attacks taking place everyday.
A Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha and S.J. Mukhopadhaya told Additional Solicitor-General Indira Jaising that it had been more than 11 weeks since an order was passed by this court but no scheme had been submitted. If the Centre/State governments/Union Territories were not able to come out with a scheme to restrict retail sale of acid, “this court may consider the suggestion of counsel for the petitioner [Aparna Bhat] to ban retail sale completely at the next hearing on July 16.”
Justice Lodha told the ASG: “One of the main reasons for acid attacks is easy availability of acid across the counter. The matter has been pending before this court for the last seven years. But neither the Central Government nor the State Governments/Union Territories have been able to address this grave issue.”
On April 16 the court had passed an order directing the Centre to file an affidavit on a draft scheme, the judge pointed out and asked, “Where is the affidavit? People are dying. You are not worried about that. Everyday one incident or the other is happening. Think of the plight of the girl [Preeti who died recently in Mumbai]. The seriousness expected of the government is not seen. Think of the people who are losing their lives every day.”
The Centre said 14 States — Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Manipur, Mizoram, Odihsa, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura and West Bengal — had issued a notification for a victim compensation scheme and the others were reminded and asked to follow the scheme.
It said the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2013, which had received presidential assent, had Sections 326 A and 326 B in the Indian Penal Code for making acid attack a specific offence, providing for a maximum punishment of life sentence.