SC glare on acid sale

New Delhi, Feb. 6: The Supreme Court today directed the Centre to call a meeting of states and Union territories to regulate the sale of acid and to evolve a "comprehensive, concrete and effective" rehabilitation policy for victims of acid attacks.

"We are not satisfied with your approach. The care and compensation to the acid attack victims should be comprehensive, concrete and effective. If we have waited for seven years then we can wait for another seven days so that we can pass an appropriate order," the court said.

Additional solicitor-general Mohan Parasaran, who appeared for the Centre, pointed to the February 3 ordinance on crimes against women that recognises acid attacks as a separate offence punishable with life imprisonment and a fine up to Rs 10 lakh.

Until now, the accused were booked for causing "grievous hurt" and the charges depended on the gravity and nature of injury suffered by the victims.

But the court said the rehabilitation scheme was "defective" because it did not say who would pay the compensation if the accused were not in a position to do so. "The scheme does not take care of this aspect," the three-judge bench said, suggesting the state should pay.

The bench was hearing a PIL filed by a girl who was attacked with acid in Delhi in 2006. The petition seeks a ban on the easy supply of acid in the country on the grounds that it is being increasingly used by criminals to target women who spurn their advances.

The girl's counsel, Aparna Bhat, told the court Haryana has a comprehensive scheme for the care and rehabilitation of acid attack victims in which the state takes the responsibility to compensate the victim.

The court then said: "Why not Haryana scheme be a model for other states?"

It granted the government six weeks to call the meeting of chief secretaries of states and administrators of Union territories, and another two weeks to place its report before the court. The court also said the Union home secretary and the ministry of chemical and fertiliser, under whose purview sale of acid falls, should also be involved.


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