With a view to preventing acid attacks, the Supreme Court has completely prohibited over-the-counter sale of the chemical unless the seller maintains a log/register recording the address and other details of the buyer, and the quantum.

Giving this interim direction, effective until rules are framed by States and Union Territories , a Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha and Ibrahim Kalifulla, hearing the petition filed by acid attack victim Laxmi, said on Thursday all dealers should sell the chemical only after the buyer showed a government-issued photo identity card and specified the purpose of purchase. The seller should submit the details of sale to the local police within three days of the transaction; no acid should be sold to any person under 18 and all stocks must be declared with the local sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) in 15 days. Undeclared stocks could be confiscated and the defaulter fined up to Rs.50, 000.

'Raise compensation to acid attack victims to Rs. 3 lakh'

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed all States to pay acid attack victims Rs. 3 lakh towards medical treatment and aftercare rehabilitation — Rs. 1 lakh within 15 days of an incident and the balance within two months thereafter.

A Bench pointed out that the compensation notified by 17 States and Union Territories was negligible.

In its directions to prevent acid attacks, the court said: “All institutions shall maintain a register of usage of acid and file the same with the local police and the SDM [sub-divisional magistrate] concerned. Further, the institutions should make a person accountable for possession and safe keeping of acid; acid should be stored under the supervision of this person and there should be compulsory checking of students/personnel leaving the laboratories where acid is used.”

Any person who breached the court order was “liable to pay a fine of Rs. 50,000. The SDM concerned will be vested with the responsibility of imposing fine for breach/default/violation. Violations of these directions would attract prosecution under the Poisons Act, 1919,” the Bench said.

The court directed the Chief Secretaries of all States and Administrators of Union Territories to get the order translated in vernacular languages and publicise it appropriately for information of the public at large and ensure compliance with it.

The Bench asked the Centre to circulate among the States and Union Territories model rules for regulating sale of acid and other corrosive substances framed under the Poisons Act.

States and Union Territories which were yet to frame rules to declare ‘acid’ a poisonous substance must do so within three months. “The Centre and the States should work towards making offences under the Poisons Act cognisable and non-bailable,” the Bench said.

The model rules will cover forms of acids (liquids or crystalline and its concentration) that can be stored and sold; licensing; and procurement by individuals, educational and research institutions, hospitals and industries. A Standard Operating Procedure should also be laid down for management and handling of acids.

The Bench said Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh had framed the rules; Meghalaya had circulated the draft rules.

Tamil Nadu informed the court that it would come out with the rules in two months. “The States which have already notified rules to regulate sale of acids will have the option to enforce the said rules or adopt the model rules in place of the existing rules.”

The matter is listed for further hearing after four months.

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