Order on petition by State coordinator of Citizens for Human Rights Movement

The Madras High Court on Wednesday said it was open to the State and Central Governments to take necessary action in their discretion in the matter relating to sale of acids.

Justice N.Kirubakaran passed the interim order on a petition by Mrs. Shanthi, State coordinator, Citizens for Human Rights Movement, Erode, seeking enforcement of the Explosives Act by banning unlicensed over-the-counter sale of acids with immediate effect. The organisation also sought a direction to the authorities to prosecute vendors who had sold acids used in attacks.

When the petition came up, Advocate-General A. Navaneethakrishnan produced a press note issued by the State government in which it was announced that a Bill has been proposed to contain and regulate sale of acid. It had also been stated that the family of Vidya, who died of an acid attack, would be given Rs.two lakh from the Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund.

The Additional Solicitor-General, P. Wilson, cited a communication of the Union Home Ministry about a meeting via video-conferencing with State Home Secretaries on February 14 to discuss issues which included preparation of a victim compensation scheme by State Governments as required under Section 357-A Cr.P.C, directions of the Supreme Court of February 6 in respect of a writ petition in the case of Laxmi, a victim of acid attack, enactment of appropriate provision for effective regulation of sale of acid in the States and Union Territories, measures for proper treatment, after care and rehabilitation of victims of acid attack and the victims’ needs and compensation payable to acid attack victims by the State.

The petitioner on Wednesday filed an additional affidavit seeking an SIT probe into the bottlers and vendors of acid which were used to attack people, and the failure of the police and explosives officials who allowed over-the-counter sale of acids in unlicensed shops. The petitioner also sought a direction to the authorities to compensate the families of victims.

Mr.Justice Kirubakaran said though it had been stated that the matter was pending before the Supreme Court, he would peruse the affidavit filed by Lakshmi and would like to verify whether the issues before the High Court and the Supreme Court were one and the same. “Meanwhile, it is open to the appropriate governments to take necessary action in their discretion.” Following a request by the Additional Solicitor-General, the court posted the matter for further hearing on March 13 for getting the response.

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