Friday, July 19, 2013

Rs3L to acid attack victim- SC

Delhi's acid attack victim Laxmi sported a smile after an agonizingly meandering seven-year litigation in the Supreme Court, which on Thursday hiked compensation to victims like her to Rs 3 lakh and directed the states to adopt a Central model law to severely restrict retail sale of the corrosive substance.

A bench of Justices R M Lodha and F M I Kalifulla accepted suggestions made on Laxmi's behalf by counsel Aparna Bhat and for Centre by Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran and said the model law clamping conditions on across the counter sale of acid to restrict access to the corrosive substance must be adopted and notified by the states within three months.

The compensation scheme notified by various states had varied amounts - from Rs 25,000 to Rs 3 lakh. The bench headed by Justice Lodha, which had speeded up the process for justice to acid attack victims in the last six months, agreed with Laxmi's counsel that it must be uniform and fixed it at Rs 3 lakhs.

Of the total compensation amount, the states must pay the victim Rs 1 lakh within 15 days and the rest in the next two months, the bench ordered.

Asking Union government to circulate the model rules based on restrictions applied for the across the counter sale for poison under the Poisons Act, 1919, the bench said: "within three months from the circulation of the model rules, the states and Union Territories which have not already notified the rules including 'acid' as poisonous substance shall frame the rules".

In another significant direction, the bench said "the centre and states shall work towards making the offences under the Poisons Act cognizable and non-bailable."

This means, any retailer would not get bail if arrested for selling the corrosive substance without asking for the identity proof of the buyer, his address, purpose of purchase and the quantity. Acid should not be sold to those below 18 years, the court said.

All retailers must report their stock of acid to the area sub-divisional magistrate every 15 days and if undeclared stock of the corrosive substance was found with him, he would face a fine up to Rs 50,000 coupled with confiscation of the undeclared stock, the bench said.

The court also said all educational institutions and industrial units using acid must maintain a log of the stock and report it to the area sub-divisional magistrate (SDM).

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