Regulations for sale of acid

Control on the sale of acid and other corrosive substances has become unavoidable essentially for the reason that serous crimes of pouring acid on human beings have been committed. Instances of people with criminal mentality pouring acid and other corrosive substances on women have come to our notice. This was a serious issue and the government had to step in to prevent occurrence of such crimes. Consequently the State Government made the acid attack an offence in the Jammu and Kashmir Criminal Laws Amendment Bill, which was introduced in the Legislative Assembly during the Budget Session of 2013.
In the meanwhile a victim in Delhi filed before the Supreme Court a case of acid pouring. The Apex Court directed the States including J&K to frame laws for the sale of acid and other corrosive substances. Those who committed this type of crime usually purchased acid from pharmaceutical retails and that had to be controlled. The State Government constituted a Committee with representatives from all concerned departments and desired it to submit its report on the sale of acid and other corrosive substances within fifteen days. Four months have elapsed and the report has not seen the light of the day. It is learnt that the main contribution in advising the Government what should be the parameters of regulations to be made for sale of acid has to come from Health and Medical Education Department. Unless this department gives the technical advice on the definition of acid the committee cannot frame its suggestions and presently the response from the Health and Medical Education Department in this regard is awaited. The delay in framing the regulations for the sale of acid imposes no responsibility or conditions on the sale of acid to anybody anywhere and in any quantity. Thus the criminal elements are free to acquire the deadly substances from whatever source they can and use it against the one they would like to destroy. Though acid attack is declared an offence under the law, but there are no laws that govern the sale of acid. Incidentally our State does not even have the Poison Act so that acid attack could be brought under its jurisdiction or the Act could be amended to cover acid attack also. And J&K is singled out for not having such a law enacted as yet.
The medical use of acid is something, which only the Health Department can comment upon. Since mostly acid is sold in open by pharmacies, it is essentially the responsibility of Health Department to make suggestions about who and how of the sale of acid and corrosive substances. Delay in submitting it suggestion is inadvisable. All precautions have to be taken to ensure safety and security of individuals as desired by the constitution and law. The Government would very much like to impose blanket ban on the sale of acid but that is not possible because of the use of the substance for medical purposes. We fail to understand why the government does not get into touch with other state governments to know from them the broad outlines of a law to regulate the sale of acid and other corrosive substances or for definition of terminology to be adopted in framing the law. Society cannot be endangered just because a certain member of the duly constituted committee is non-responsive. The law on stocks and sale of acid should come in as early as possible.


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