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Delhi High Court on Thursday took note of the severe situation of increasing acid attacks in the capital and directed Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) to ensure strict implementation of Delhi Poisons Possession and Sale Rules, 2015 (2015 Rules) which were made to keep a check on illegal sale of acids and other measures against increasing acid attacks.

Delhi High Court directs GNCTD to conduct study on implications of complete sale on ban of acid

Delhi High Court. (File Photo: IANS)

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by an acid attack survivor Shaheen Malik (petitioner) calling out GNCTD’s failure to address the problem even after repeated directions and orders of the Supreme Court of India against acid attacks.  The petitioner through the PIL was seeking a total ban on over-the-counter sale of acid in retail stores across Delhi due to the incapability of the GNCTD to stop illegal sale of acid.

The division bench of The Hon’ble Chief Justice of High Court of Delhi Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula, while considering the plea of ban of sale of acids, took note of the fact of the landmark judgments of the Supreme Court of India in Laxmi v. Union of India and Ors. and Parivartan Kendra v. Union of India and ors.. Further the bench also discussed whether a complete ban on sale would be possible and observed –

“In light of these landmark judgments and the concerns raised by the Petitioner, the Court must now determine whether a complete ban on the sale of acid is the appropriate approach to the problem. This decision warrants a comprehensive examination of existing legal framework and careful consideration of implications of various approaches as well as their potential effectiveness. While the concerns shared by the Petitioner are genuine and her survey provides insights on the prevailing conditions, it does not encompass all perspectives. A total ban could have unintended consequences, affecting sectors where acid is responsibly and safely utilized. Therefore, striking a balance between public safety and the legitimate uses of acid for industrial and other regulated purposes is crucial.”

The Court while directing GNCTD to ensure strict implementation of the Rules framed in 2015 and further directed GNCTD to conduct a comprehensive empirical study, aimed at assessing the potential consequences of a complete ban on acid sale on various sectors, individuals, and businesses.

Although the Court has directed a study towards possibility of complete ban of sale but obviously its focus is to enhance public safety.

Shaheen Malik v. State of GNCTD through Principal Secretary & Ors.;W.P(C) 1501/2020 decided on 27.07.2023

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