Affidavit states till enactment of law, regulation of acids would be dealt with under the Poisons Act

The State government on Tuesday submitted before the Madras High Court that it proposed to draft a legislation to regulate and control the sale and use of acids in the State. This is to prevent misuse of acids as a weapon, particularly against women. Strict norms and stringent punishment have been proposed.

This has been stated in an affidavit by the Home Department before Justice N. Kirubakaran, in response to a writ petition by 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 which were used in attacks.

In the affidavit filed through the Special Government Pleader, I.S. Inbadurai, the Special Secretary, Home, P. Amudha, said, till the enactment of the legislation, regulation of acids would be dealt with under the Poisons Act. Under the law, the State government had framed rules prescribing the licensing authority, powers for inspection of premises selling poisons/acids etc., for regulating acid sale. Necessary instructions had been given to all district collectors in this regard on March 28 this year.

The official detailed the treatment provided for acid victims in various government medical institutions. It said that the burns/acid injury ward in Government Headquarters Hospital, in Sivakasi, the hub of fireworks industry, had been recently upgraded as a Centre of Excellence. As regards rehabilitation, the Social Welfare Department had formulated several measures to help women victims of acid attack.

For relief and rehabilitation of the victims, district-level committees, under the chairmanship of the collectors, would be formed to take suo motu cognisance of incidents of acid attack, provide counsel and immediate social, psychological and economic support to victims and their families. This committee would recommend to the government the monetary compensation to be paid to the victims under the Victim Compensation Scheme. In addition to the Victim Assistance Fund Scheme, the Tamil Nadu government, in coordination with the Centre, would finalise the scheme ‘Tamil Nadu Victim Compensation Scheme 2013’ and there would be a Victim Compensation Fund.

As regards medical treatment for the victims, it has been proposed to cover them under the Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme, up to a maximum of Rs. 1.50 lakh. The District Social Welfare Officers, in collaboration with the Tamil Nadu Women’s Development Corporation, would help victims obtain gainful employment through State and Central government schemes, the official said.