Delhi HC refuses full ban acid sale, asks state to ensure implementation of laws

A division bench acknowledged the seriousness of acid attacks but expressed concerns that a complete ban might inadvertently harm businesses

Delhi High Court (photo: IANS)
Delhi High Court (photo: IANS)


The Delhi High Court on Thursday refused to impose a complete ban on the sale of acid in the national capital, and instead, directed the AAP government to focus on effectively implementing existing laws and taking swift action against those who unlawfully use it.

A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula acknowledged the seriousness of acid attacks and the need for strict measures to prevent them but expressed concerns that a complete ban might inadvertently harm businesses and individuals who require acid for legitimate purposes.

It proposed enforcing the Delhi Poisons Possession and Sale Rules, 2015, which allow the sale of acid to licensed vendors at the discretion of the licensing authority.

Strict penalties for those involved in the illegal sale or misuse of acid can act as a deterrent and promote compliance with the rules, it said, adding that by actively regulating and monitoring acid sales, law enforcement agencies can significantly reduce the likelihood of acid attacks.

The Delhi government was also directed to conduct a comprehensive empirical study to assess the potential consequences of a total ban on acid sales on various sectors, individuals, and businesses.

"The study should analyse the historical data on acid-related incidents and also examine the effectiveness of past regulations and their impact on reducing incidence of acid attacks," the court said.

Engaging with various stakeholders, including advocacy groups, industry representatives, legal experts, and medical professionals, will provide valuable insights, the court said as it disposed of the public interest litigation filed by an acid attack survivor and social activist seeking a total ban on over-the-counter sale of acid in Delhi.

While recognising the petitioner's concerns, the court cautioned that a complete ban could have unintended consequences and affect responsible and safe uses of acid in certain sectors.

The court granted the petitioner the liberty to approach the court again if breaches in implementation of regulations continue, while expressing hope that the Delhi government and Delhi Police would approach the matter with utmost seriousness and demonstrate a vigilant and decisive approach in implementing the law.

It commended the petitioner for her dedication to aiding survivors and seeking justice and support for acid attack victims.

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