What is the law on acid attacks in India?

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Source: The post is based on the article “What is the law on acid attacks in India?published in Indian Express on 19th December 2022

What is the News?

A 17-year-old girl was attacked with an acid-like substance in Delhi by three assailants while she was on her way to school. 

How prevalent are acid attacks in India?

Acid attacks on women are not as prevalent a crime as others against women. 

According to data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there were 150 such cases recorded in 2019, 105 in 2020 and 102 in 2021. 

West Bengal and UP consistently record the highest number of such cases generally accounting for nearly 50% of all cases in the country year on year.

The chargesheeting rate of acid attacks stood at 83% and the conviction rate at 54% in 2019. In 2021, the figures were recorded to be 89% and 20% respectively. 

What is the law on acid attacks?

Until 2013, acid attacks were not treated as separate crimes. However, following amendments carried out in the IPC, acid attacks were put under a separate section (326A) of the IPC and made punishable with a minimum imprisonment of 10 years which is extendable to life along with a fine.

The law also has provisions for punishment for denial of treatment to victims or police officers refusing to register an FIR or record any piece of evidence. 

Denial of treatment (by both public and private hospitals) can lead to imprisonment of up to one year and dereliction of duty by a police officer is punishable by imprisonment of up to two years.

What is the law on the regulation of acid sales?

In 2013, the Supreme Court took cognizance of acid attacks and passed an order on the regulation of sales of corrosive substances. 

Based on the order, the Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) issued an advisory to all states on how to regulate acid sales and framed the Model Poisons Possession and Sale Rules, 2013 under The Poisons Act,1919. It asked states to frame their own rules based on model rules, as the matter fell under the purview of states.

Key provisions of the model rules

Over-the-counter sale of acid was not allowed unless the seller maintains a logbook/register recording the sale of acid. The sale is also to be made only when the buyer produces a photo ID containing his address issued by the government. The buyer must also prove he/she is above 18 years of age.

Sellers are required to declare all stocks of acid with the concerned Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) within 15 days and in case of undeclared stock of acid. The SDM can confiscate the stock and suitably impose a fine of up to Rs 50,000 for a breach of any of the directions.

Educational institutions, research laboratories, hospitals, government departments and the departments of Public Sector Undertakings which are required to keep and store acid should maintain a register of usage of acid and file the same with the concerned SDM.

Is there any compensation and care given to acid attack victims?

Based on Supreme Court directions, the MHA asked states to make sure acid attack victims are paid compensation of at least Rs. 3 lakhs by the concerned State Government/Union Territory as the aftercare and rehabilitation cost. 

Apart from this, MHA suggested states should extend social integration programs to the victims for which NGOs could be funded to exclusively look after their rehabilitative requirements.

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