Acid Attacks: Some Relief for the Etched

Reported by K Shivani Prasad

If there is a bloomy side of independent India, where the country is on its path to economical and technical progress there also exist a grotesque picture of women of our country being dragged into a lifetime of trauma and misery. All that an offender needs is a few bucks to buy a bottle of acid to make a woman subject to a lifetime of social ridicule. With a defiled face and body comes to her the pain of being made a social pariah and also, economically crippled.

The Apex court on 18th July, Thursday in an attempt to curb the incidents of vitriolage directed the Centre and States/Union Territories to work towards make the offences under the Poison Act, 1919 cognizable and non-bailable. The bench hearing the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in 2006 by Laxmi, an acid attack victim herself named Laxmi, dictated that the states and union territories must frame rules to regulate the sale and purchase of acid and other corroborative substances in not later than three months after they receive the draft Model Rules from the Central Government.

Over the counter, the sale of acid has been strictly prohibited. If he sells,  the  seller  must maintains  a  log/register with all the particulars of the buyer and the quantity sold to him after the buyer furnishes a government issued photo ID and specifies his reason for procuring acid. The seller must declare his stock of acid to the concerned Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) within 15 days, in the event of not declaring the stock or any other breach the seller will be penalized with a fine of up to Rs. 50,000/- . The acid cannot be sold to minors.

It will upon the Chief Secretaries of the concerned State and the Administrators of the Union Territories to oversee that the directions given by the apex court are complied with expeditiously.

The bench headed by Justice R. M. Lodha,  delved deep into The ‘Victim compensation Scheme’ prepared in the line with Section 357A of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, followed by 17 States and 7 Union Territories and quoted that the compensation awarded under it was meager considering the surgeries and treatment that these victims have to go through. Thereupon, the court also increased the compensation to 3 Lacs at least, to be paid by the State Government to such victims for their rehabilitation and after care.