New law criminalises acid attacks

Kathmandu, October 27

The Criminal Code Bill recently passed by the Parliament criminalises acid attacks.

The bill will take the shape of act and come into effect on August 17, 2018.

Section 193 of the bill states, “If a person throws acid at a person or uses any chemical substance to attack a person in a manner to cause serious harm or disfigure the victim, the perpetrator shall be awarded five to eight years in jail depending on the gravity of the offence and fined Rs 100,000 to Rs 300,000. The fine imposed on the perpetrator shall be provided to the survivor.” In case of death of the victim in such attack, the perpetrator will face murder charge.

This is the first law in Nepal that criminailses acid attacks. Lawmakers, rights activists and civil society leaders had demanded that the Parliament make new law or provision to take legal action against the perpetrators of acid attack in the wake of February 22, 2015 incident. Two schoolgirls aged 15 and 16, were seriously injured when a man threw acid at them at Jhonchhe, Basantapur.

Twenty-six days after the acid attack, police arrested Jeevan BK, 20, the alleged perpetrator. He confessed to throwing acid on the 15-year-old to take revenge for all alleged insults against him by the girl and her family. The 16-year-old, who was sitting next to the targeted girl, also suffered burn injuries.

However, BK was booked for attempt to murder as per the Muluki Ain, given the lack of specific law in this case. Recently on August 9, the Supreme Court had also ordered the government to regulate sale and distribution of acid to curb incidents of acid attacks.

Government bodies will now have to enact laws to regulate sale and distribution of acid and provide free  treatment to acid victims. According to Nepal Police, the best way to control sale and distribution of acid is to make provisions for sale and distribution of acid only on doctor’s prescription. At present one can buy it anywhere, even in jewellery shops. Regulating sale and distribution of acid should, however, not make it difficult for those who need it for valid reasons.

Several countries have enacted laws to regulate acid sale. Bangladesh enforced Acid Control Act in 2002. The law provisions a jail sentence of three to 10 years for any person who produces, imports, transports, stores, sells, distributes and uses unlicensed acid. Pakistan also enacted a law in this regard in 2011. India, on the other hand, has a provision to prohibit sale of acids unless the seller maintains a record of the buyers.