In a bid to curb acid attacks on women, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed that this crime be made a non-bailable offence and enhanced to Rs 3 lakh the compensation amount for the victims.
A bench headed by Justice R M Lodha gave these directions while asking states and Union Territories to frame rules to regulate sale of acids and other corrosive substances within three months.
The court said that a photo identity card, containing residential address, issued by authorities concerned would be required for purchasing such substances which in any case cannot be sold to a person who is below the age of 18 years.
The bench, which is hearing a PIL filed in 2006 by Delhi-based acid attack victim Laxmi who was then a minor, also passed a slew of interim directions on various issues including sale of acids.
Perusing the compensation schemes of 17 states and seven UTs, the bench observed that the amount which is being paid is "grossly inadequate". The compensation amount for after-care and rehabilitation cost at present ranges between Rs 5,000 and Rs 150,000.
"It cannot be overlooked that acid attack victims need to undergo a series of plastic surgeries and other corrective treatment. Having regard to this, the Solicitor General suggested to us that the compensation amount to be paid by states to acid attack victims must be enhanced to at least Rs three lakh.
"The suggestion is very fair. We accordingly direct that the acid attack victims shall be paid a compensation of at least Rs three lakh by the state government concerned as an after-care and rehabilitation cost for such victims," the court said.
The court also said that out of the compensation amount of Rs three lakh, Rs one lakh will be paid within 15 days of the occurrence of the attack being brought to the notice of the state government.
"The balance of Rs two lakh shall be paid by the state or Union Territory concerned as expeditiously as possible and positively within two months of the incident," it said, adding that the compliance of the order has to be ensured by the Chief Secretaries of the states and administrators of the UTs respectively.
The bench also asked the central and state governments to work together and make the necessary rules under the Poison Act, 1919 for making acid attack a non-bailable offence.