Acid victim Sonali Mukherjee
Sonali was attacked nine years ago with a cocktail of acids, disfiguring her for life. She has appealed to the government for medical support or to be mercifully killed.Reuters

In a move to curb the rising rate of acid attacks across the country, the Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday has ordered the Centre, State and Union territories to regulate the sales of acid and pay up till ₹3 lakh as compensation to victims.

The apex court has also asked state governments to provide ₹1 lakh of the ₹3 lakh compensation within 15 days of the incident being reported. States have also asked to bear the medical and rehabilitation costs for acid attack victims.

The SC has suggested ways to monitor the sales of acid and other corrosive substances. Among the measures were a ban on the sale of acid to minors, verification of buyer's identity and purpose of the purchase.

Moreover, acid sellers will now have to submit sales details of the sales to a local police official. If found with undeclared stocks, the substance will be confiscated and the seller be fined up to ₹50,000.

The court has given a deadline of three months to states and central government to frame rules regarding the sales of acid in retail shops. It has also asked them to make the plight of acid attack on women a non-bailable offence.

The court, last week, slammed the government for not acting on the regulatory measures soon. In April, the Centre had assured that it will formulate a plan along with the states' approval by 9 July.

However, it failed to keep up the promise. "Seriousness is not seen on the part of government in handling the issue," the bench headed by Justice RM Lodha had said during the hearing.

The court's order was passed following a hearing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in 2006 by acid-attack victim Laxmi. The Delhi-based woman, was only a minor when she was attacked for rejecting a marriage proposal.

"It is surely going to be a huge deterrent for those planning to buy acid with the intention to cause harm. While many will still break the law, attacks should come down by and large. Many would be scared of giving proof of identity and residence," Laxmi, now 23, told The Times of India.

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