The Home Ministry has asked the State governments to ban over-the-counter sale of acids as directed by the Supreme Court in its July order to curb growing incidents of attacks on women.
Besides bringing the sale of acid under The Poisons Possession And Sales Rules, 2013, thereby including at least a dozen acids in the list of poisons to curb their sale, the Ministry has asked the States to sternly deal with acid sellers who fail to comply with the guidelines.
After the apex court’s directions, The Hindu was first to report on July 20 about the Ministry’s intensions to implement the revised rules on sale of acid that could be done only by a licensed trader and identifying at least a dozen such acids, including acetic acid, phosphoric acid, hydrofluoric acid, perchloric acid, formic acid, oxalic acid, perchloride of mercury (corrosive sublimate), sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid, hydrocyanic acid, nitric acid, potassium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide, that would have restricted sale.
The Ministry has asked the States to impose a fine of Rs.50,000 on sellers who do not maintain a register on personal information about buyers.
While acid should not be sold to a person below 18 years, the licence holder (seller) will have to identify to his satisfaction the purchaser’s identity through a photo identity card that mentions the purchaser’s address.
The seller will also have to “ascertain before selling any poison the name, telephone and address of the purchaser and the purpose for which the poison is purchased,” the new rules say.
The Ministry has said a compensation of at least Rs.3 lakh should be given to acid attack victims by the State government concerned as after-care and rehabilitation cost. Out of this, Rs.1 lakh shall be paid to the victim within 15 days of the incident to facilitate immediate medical attention and expenses in this regard. The balance sum should be paid as expeditiously as possible and positively within two months thereafter.
SDM can impose fine
The Ministry has said sub-divisional magistrates (SDMs) may impose a fine up to Rs.50,000 on any person who commits breach of any of the above directions. The rules also lay down terms and conditions for sale-purchase and storage of acids.
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 SDM concerned.
All Central government hospitals and establishments have been directed to treat acid attack victims free of cost.