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Laws on Acid Attacks in India

Government of India must make strict “Laws on Acid Attacks in India” and create more awareness in society regarding Acid, and parents must teach their children about the importance of their boundaries and consents.

Section 326B of IPC defines an acid as “any substance which has acidic or corrosive character or burning nature that is capable of causing bodily injury leading to scars or disfigurement or temporary or permanent disability.”

Acid Attacks in India

According to 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.

High Conviction Rate: Charge-sheeting rate of acid attacks stood at 83% and the conviction rate at 54% in 2019.

  • In 2020, the figures stood at 86% and 72% respectively.
  • In 2021, the figures were recorded to be 89% and 20% respectively.


Laws and Regulations on Acid Attacks in India

  • Outcome of Supreme Court Judgment in Laxmi vs Union of India &Ors, 2013:
    • Restrictions on sale: It imposed restrictions on the sale of acid and provide compensation to the victim.
    • Section 357-A was inserted in Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973: Compensation to the victim or their dependents, prepare a scheme for providing funds to all those who have suffered loss or injury due to such an acid attack and need rehabilitation.
    • Victim compensation and care: Minimum compensation of 3,00,000/- to every acid attack victim in all states and union territories.
    • Section 357C was inserted in Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973: All hospitals whether private or public run by central, state government or local bodies should provide the first aid or medical treatment free of cost.
    • Section 326A of Indian Penal Code (IPC): Accused shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.
  • Model Poisons Possession and Sale Rules, 2013: Ministry of Home Affairs advisory 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.
    • In 2015, MHA issued an advisory to all states to ensure speedy justice in cases of acid attacks by expediting prosecution.
    • MHA asked states to make sure acid attack victims are paid compensation by the concerned State Government/Union Territory as the aftercare and rehabilitation cost.
    • States should extend social integration programs to the victims for which NGOs could be funded to exclusively look after their rehabilitative requirements.
    • In August last year, MHA issued another advisory to all States/ UTs to review and ensure that the retail sale of acids and chemicals is strictly regulated in terms of the Poison Rules so that these are not used in crime.
  • Steps by State Government: Several states and UTs have already issued guidelines to regulate the sale of acids.
    • Many state government issued ban on sale of acid and declared acid as “poison” and which would not be easily available.


Consumer Rights and Law

  • Consumer Rights under Section 2(9) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 include the right to be protected against the marketing of goods, products or services which are hazardous to life and property.
    • Under Section 18 (1) of the Act, Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) is empowered to protect, promote and enforce the rights of consumers as a class, and prevent violation of consumer rights, as well as prevent unfair trade practices and ensure that no person engages himself in such practices.
  • Section 4 (3) of Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020, no e-commerce entity shall adopt any unfair trade practice, whether in the course of business on its platform or otherwise.


Challenges and Way Forward

  • Need for Prevention: Regulations on acid sales largely help in tracking the accused and not so much in prevention.
  • Consequences on Society: Sale of highly corrosive acids in an easy, accessible, and unregulated manner without any due diligence by the e-marketplace entity can lead to disastrous consequences for consumers, especially the most vulnerable sections of society, namely women and children.
  • Creating Awareness: There is a need to create more awareness in society.
  • Role of Parents: They must teach their children the importance of boundaries and consent.


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