The Apex Court of India has given state authorities three months to implement new rules to control over the counter sales of acids, which have been used to maim, disfigure and even kill people, particularly women, for decades.
Court has directed India’s 29 states and 9 union territories to issue licenses to retailers selling acid after the government earlier this week said it will categorize acid as poison. Court said anyone under the age of 18 will not be able to purchase acids like hydrochloric, sulphuric and nitric.
Shops will have to keep details like the quantity sold and the addresses of buyers, who will need to present photo identification to purchase acids, the court said Thursday.
“Over the counter sale of acid is completely prohibited unless the seller maintains a log/register recording the sale of acid,” the Supreme Court said. Retailers will have to declare the amount of acid being stocked to the police, the court said. Failure to do so would lead to undeclared stock being confiscated and a fine of up to Rs. 50,000.
The court heard a plea by a woman named Laxmi who is seeking changes to the law on acid attacks and sales. Laxmi, who only goes by one name, was left badly scarred on her face, arms and chest after she was attacked with acid in 2005 in New Delhi.
Provisions in IPC Related to Acid Attack
After recommendation of Justice Verma Committee following sections in IPC, 1860 were inserted by the amendment Act, 2013:-
‘Sec. 326A. Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by use of acid, etc.- Whoever causes permanent or partial damage or deformity to, or burns or maims or disfigures or disables, any part or parts of the body of a person or causes grievous hurt by throwing acid on or by administering acid to that person, or by using any other means with the intention of causing or with the knowledge that he is likely to cause such injury or hurt, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and with fine :
Provided that such fine shall be just and reasonable to meet the medical expenses of the treatment of the victim :
Provided further that any fine imposed under this section shall be paid to the victim.
326B. Voluntarily throwing or attempting to throw acid.- Whoever throws or attempts to throw acid on any person or attempts to administer acid to any person, or attempts to use any other means, with the intention of causing permanent or partial damage or deformity or burns or maiming or disfigurement or disability or grievous hurt to that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than five years but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Explanation 1.- For the purposes of section 326A and this section, “acid” includes any substance which has acidic or corrosive character of burning nature, that is capable of causing bodily injury leading to scars or disfigurement or temporary or permanent disability.
Explanation 2.– For the purposes of section 326A and this section, permanent or partial damage or deformity shall not be required to be irreversible.’