Centre tells States to ban across-the-counter acid sale

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ACIDNew Delhi, September 6; Complying with the Supreme Court directive, the Union Home Ministry has asked all states to ban across-the-counter sale of acid in the wake of rising incidents of attacks on women using the chemical.

The Ministry also asked the states to impose a fine of Rs. 50,000 on acid sellers who do not maintain a register on personal information about buyers.

In its efforts to strictly implement the apex court order to prevent acid attacks, the Home Ministry asked all states to frame laws to make this crime a non-bailable offence as early as possible.

The Centre said a compensation of at least Rs. 3 lakh should be given to acid attack victims by the concerned state government or UT as after-care and rehabilitation cost. Out of this, Rs. 1 lakh shall be paid to the victim within 15 days of the occurrence of such incident to facilitate immediate medical attention and expenses in this regard.

The balance sum of Rs. 2 lakh should be paid as expeditiously as possible and positively within two months thereafter, it said.

The Supreme Court had on July 18 directed that the crime be made a non-bailable offence and enhanced to Rs. 3 lakh the compensation amount for the victims.

The apex court order with a slew of interim directions came on a PIL filed by Delhi-based acid attack victim Laxmi.

The Home Ministry advisory came in response to the Supreme Court order.

“Ban over-the-counter sale of acid/corrosives unless the seller maintains a logbook/register recording the sale of acid which will contain the details of the person(s) to whom acid(s) is/are sold and the quantity sold. The log/register shall also contain the address of the person to whom it is sold,” the advisory said.

The Home Ministry told the states and UTs that sale of acid should be made only when the buyer produces a photo ID issued by the government which also has the address of the person and proves that he/she is above 18 years of age.

The log book should also specify the reason or purpose for procuring acid. All stocks of acid must be declared by the seller with the concerned Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) within 15 days and in case of undeclared stock of acid, it will be open to the concerned SDM to confiscate the stock and suitably impose a fine on such seller up to Rs. 50,000.

The concerned SDM may impose a fine up to Rs. 50,000 on any person who commits breach of any of the above directions, the advisory said.

Educational institutions, research laboratories, hospitals, government departments and the departments of public sector undertakings, which are required to keep and store acid/corrosive, shall maintain a register of usage of acid and the same shall be filed with the concerned SDM.

A person shall be made accountable for the possession and safe keeping of acid in their premises. The acid shall be stored under the supervision of this person and there shall be compulsory checking of the students/ personnel leaving the laboratories/place of storage where acid is used, the advisory said.

The Home Ministry said all central government hospitals and establishments had already been directed to treat acid attack victims free of cost.

As health is a state subject, the Union Health Ministry has already circulated an advisory regarding the provision of free medical treatment to and rehabilitation of acid attack victims.

Acid attack victims need to undergo a series of plastic surgeries and hence 1—2 beds at the apex state tertiary hospital could be earmarked for the treatment so that the victims need not run from pillar to post to get these operations performed expeditiously.

In addition, private hospitals, which have availed the facility of concessional land for setting up the hospital, could also be persuaded to earmark 1-2 beds for treatment of underprivileged victims of acid attacks which the state government can identify for treatment.

Apart from the medical facilities, the state should also extend social integration programmes to the victims for which a NGO(s) could be funded to exclusively look after their rehabilitative requirements.

All states/UTs are advised to take immediate steps to implement the measures for reduction of acid attacks and treatment and rehabilitation of acid attack survivors as well as any other measure as may be deemed fit,” the advisory said.

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