LATEST: Punjab Assembly to table first-ever acid control law
LAHORE: A first-ever law aimed at regulating the trade of acid is to be tabled in the Punjab Assembly. The objective of this law would be to check acid attacks in the province, which has seen the highest number of cases.
The Executive Director of Initiatives for Sustainable Development (IFDS) Gul Hasan Abbas has stated that no proper laws have been put in place to monitor the purchase and sale of acid in Punjab.
According to Abbas, 460 incidents of acid attacks were registered between 2013 and 2019 in the province. He further added that 62 cases were reported in 2019 alone.
The Executive Director IFDS also said that the Federal Legislative does not include the subject of acids, chemicals, or poison. For this reason, the provincial assembly has to take steps to regulate harmful substances and chemicals. He pointed out that the Punjab Acid Control Act, 2019 has been vetted by several stakeholders, further saying that Punjab Law Minister Basharat Raja has stated how the proposed law is set to be tabled in the coming session.
The chairperson of Punjab Women Protection Authority, Kaneez Fatima has also declared that the law for acid control will soon be tabled in the provincial assembly. The PWPA along with the Ministry of Human Rights and the IFSD are coming up with strategies to tackle Gender-Based Violence in the province.
The Need for Acid Dealers to be Vigilant in the Law
According to the lawyer with the Asma Jehangir Legal Aid Cell Qamar Hanif Ramay, the proposed law is a beneficial measure that tries to limit readily access to acid that is used for various industrial and agricultural purposes. At the same time, vigilance on the part of dealers is also required in that they don’t easily sell acid to any everyday customer.
He spoke of the need for a mechanism that lets dealers notify enforcement officials about any unusual orders.
However, as he highlighted, the proposed law will encounter issues in implementation because of the excessive burden and lack of resources facing the deputy commissioner. He further expressed how to get around this, the proposed law should have established authority with a devoted enforcement squad to ensure the law’s enforcement.
What are the Contents of the Proposed Law?
As per the draft copy of the Punjab Acid Control Act, 2019, the proposed bill would control the storage, distribution, sale, and transport of different acids, thereby preventing the acids’ abuse and misuse.
Through the proposed law, all acid dealers and traders will be required to obtain a license from the deputy commissioner of a district for sale and control of the hazardous fluid. In case a dealer does not receive the license, they would be fined Rs. 100,000. The proposed law will further keep under-18 persons from purchasing acids.
Upon failure to meet these requirements, the entire stock of the dealer would be subjected to confiscation.
The Stocking of Acid
The proposed law stated that inventory of acid would be held in a licensed business premise. All acid traders would be required to provide a report of their stock to the deputy commissioner every three months. The deputy commissioner would assign an inspector with the monitoring of acid dealers’ stock.
The Identity of Buyers
It has been made an obligation for acid dealers to track the record of sold stock. The record will contain the name and age of the buyer; the name of the acid being sold; the quantity sold; CNIC or passport number of the buyer, and the purpose of buying along with their permanent and temporary addresses.
The Packaging and Label
The proposed law is expecting formal packaging and labeling of acids. The packaging would be designed so as to prevent loss of contents or unsafe handling. The packaging must also be labeled properly in both English and Urdu. The label must display the title of the acid, as well as its concentration level. The word ‘Dangerous’ must also be a part of the packaging along with the danger symbol.
The Government will arrange for the raising of public awareness through posters, notice boards, newspapers, and electronic media. This would be aimed at promoting compliance with the requirements of the proposed law.