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Ban on Sale of Acid


Laxmi vs Union of India and Ors.

Acid attack is a heinous crime and a form of violent assault involving the act of throwing acid with the intention to disfigure, maim, torture, or kill. Section 326 of the Indian Penal Code was amended in 2013 with the passing of the Criminal Law ( Amendment) Act, 2013. On recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee, the amendment resulted in the insertion of sections 326 A and 326 B for specifically dealing with acid attacks. It penalized the offense with imprisonment for not less than 10 years but which may extend to life imprisonment.



Citation – Criminal Original Jurisdiction, Writ Petition (Crl) No.129 of 2006

Court – Supreme Court of India

Bench – Shri Justice Madan B.lokur;

Shri Justice Uday Umesh Lalit.

Decided On- April 10, 2015

Relevant Act/ Sections- Indian Penal Code, Section 326A, Section 326B


BRIEF FACTS:

1. Pursuant to an order dated 06.02.2015 Laxmi v. Union of India (2014 SCC (4) 427), the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has filed an affidavit dated 8th April 2015.

2. From the affidavit, it indicated that as per 2014 data, there were 282 acid attacks in all the states, majority of acid attacks took place in U.P (185), M.P (53) and Gujarat(11), whereas Delhi was the only union territory where 27 acid attacks have taken place. In all, 309 acid attacks took place.

3. To discuss various issues related to acid attack, a meeting was convened by the Secretary MHA and the Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on 14.03.2015.

4. In the order dated 06.02.2015, an amendment was made in IPC, the clause relating to the cost of treatment of victims was also inserted by an Amendment Act in 2013, with effect from 03.02.2013.

5. Despite the directions given by the court in its order in the case of Laxmi, the minimum compensation of Rs 3,00,000 per acid victim has not been fixed in some states and union territories.


ISSUE BEFORE THE COURT:

1. Whether the directions given by the court regarding the compensation scheme should be accepted by the state government and union territories?

2. Whether there should be a set of separate criminal injuries compensation board?

3. Whether there should be a ban on the sale of acid?


RATIO OF THE COURT:

1. There were certain important decisions taken in the meeting convened on 14.03.2015 that;

  • The private hospitals will also be brought on board,

  • No hospital/ clinic should refuse treatment citing lack of specialized facilities,

  • First-aid must be administered to the victim and after stabilization, the victim could be shifted to a specialized facility.

2. A direction was issued that the hospital, where acid attack victims are first treated, should give a certificate to the victim for easily availing the further sources for treatment.

3. The court observed that it is not burdensome for the states and union territories to provide compensation to the victims.

4. The unanimous view in the meeting regarding the establishment of separate criminal injuries compensation board was that district legal services authority is already constituted in every district, so it is not necessary to establish a separate authority as it would only result in multiplicity.


DECISION HELD BY THE COURT:

1. The court directed the MHA and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to issue notification within a period of three months regarding the ban on the acid sale.

2. The states and union territories were directed to comply with the victim compensation scheme (Section 357A CrPC) as it does not involve any serious financial implication.

3. District legal services authority, was given the authority to deal with matters regarding any compensation claim made by the victim and it will function as the criminal injuries compensation board for all purposes.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DISHA MOITRA is currently studying law from Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Management Studies.

You can contact them at:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/disha-moitra-7480541b0

Edited By: Swati Tolambia

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