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What is the law on acid attacks in India?

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections


Source: IE

 Direction: The article discusses the heinous crime of acid attacks and success and shortcomings of laws to prevent them and the way ahead

 Context: A 17-year-old girl was recently attacked with an acid-like substance in Delhi while she was on her way to school.


  • According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, there were 150 such cases recorded in 2019, 105 in 2020 and 102 in 2021.
  • West Bengal and UP generally account for nearly 50% of all cases in the country year on year.
  • The charge sheeting rate of acid attacks stood at 89% and the conviction rate at 20% in 2021.
  • In 2015, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued an advisory to all states to ensure speedy justice in cases of acid attacks by expediting prosecution.


The law on acid attacks:

  • Until 2013, acid attacks were not treated as separate crimes.
  • However, 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.
  • Denial of treatment 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.


The law on the regulation of acid sales:

  • In 2013, the SC took cognizance of acid attacks and passed an order on the regulation of sales of corrosive substances.
  • As a result, the 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.
  • According to the MHA’s directions and the model rules,
    • Over-the-counter sale of acid is not allowed unless the seller maintains a logbook/register.
    • The sale is also to be made only when the buyer produces a photo ID, to prove that s/he is above 18 years of age.
    • Sellers are also required to declare all stocks of acid with the concerned SDM and the SDM can confiscate the stock and impose a fine of Rs 50,000 for a breach of directions.
    • Educational institutions, research laboratories, hospitals, etc, are required to keep and store acid, to maintain a register of usage of acid.
  • The MHA asked states to frame their own rules based on model rules, as the matter fell under the purview of states.


Victim compensation and care:

  • Based on SC directions, the MHA asked states –
    • To make sure acid attack victims are paid compensation of at least Rs. 3 lakhs (Rs 1 lakh within 15 days and Rs 2 lakh within 2 months thereafter) by the concerned State Government/UT.
    • To provide free treatment to acid attack victims in any hospital, public or private.
    • To earmark 1-2 beds in private hospitals for the treatment of underprivileged victims of acid attacks.
    • To extend social integration programs to the victims for which NGOs could be funded to look after their rehabilitative requirements.


How did the above help in prevention?

  • The regulations on acid sales largely help in tracking the accused and not so much in prevention.
  • Social attitudes are changing and the focus of the police in dealing with crimes against women is expected to cause deterrence.


Shortcomings: The implementation of the regulations is not very strict and acid is still easily available in many places.


The Shakti Criminal Laws (Maharashtra Amendment) Act, 2021:

  • In cases of acid attacks, the punishment has been enhanced to a minimum of 15 years and extended to the remainder of the natural life of the perpetrator along with a fine.
  • The bail-in cases of acid attacks, rape and gang rape can be decided only by the sessions court and higher courts.
  • Grant of anticipatory bail in such cases has also been prohibited.


Conclusion: These are crimes of passion and in a majority of cases the accused is not even thinking about the consequences. So, the key to solving this problem will always remain in societal awareness.

Sheroes Café: It is a cafe and community in India, set up by the Chhanv Foundation and run by survivors of acid attacks. The cafe aims to increase awareness of acid attacks and empower acid attack survivors.

Following the attacks, some women rarely went outside, in part due to the shame attached to their physical appearance. Some women endured multiple surgeries, and they often struggled to find employment. Furthermore, they sometimes dealt with family or community pressure to stay silent on their attacks. Sheroes Hangout granted women a place to find acceptance, community, and a means of income.


Insta Links:

HC seeks govt. stand on plea to ban the acid sale