President Bidhya Devi Bhandari on Monday authenticated drafts of two ordinances at the recommendation of the Council of Ministers — to increase jail sentence for acid attackers and to regulate the sale and distribution of acid among other harmful chemicals.

The president, in accordance with Article 114 (1) of Nepal’s Constitution, endorsed ‘Ordinance to amend Criminal Offence and Criminal Procedures Act, 2020’ and ‘Ordinance to regulate acid and other harmful chemicals, 2020’, according to a press statement issued by the Office of the President.

With an amendment to the existing criminal code, one of the ordinances proposes to increase jail term for acid attackers by up to 20 years and fine of up to Rs 1,000,000.

As per the existing law, the maximum jail term for the perpetrator(s) of acid attack is eight years.

The ordinance specifies that if a person attacks anyone with harmful chemicals or acid, damaging eyes, ears, nose, face, breasts (in case of a female) or private parts, then the perpetrator(s) shall be jailed for 20 years and fined Rs 1,000,000.

If the acid attack causes blindness in one eye or deafness in one ear, partial damage to the face, damage to one breast of a woman, damage to a part of the head or if the survivor suffers damage to his/her back, limbs, then the perpetrator(s) shall face a jail term between 15 years and 20 years and a fine between Rs 700,000 and 1,000,000.

For other injuries caused by an acid attack, the new law proposes a jail term of seven to 10 years and a fine of Rs 500,000 to Rs 700,000.

The ordinance also specifies that, if a person attempts to attack someone with acid or harmful chemicals and the survivor escapes without injury, then the attacker will face a jail term between five years and seven years and a fine between Rs 100,000 and Rs 300,000.

The fine amount will be given to the victim as compensation. The new law also states that survivors of acid attack will receive reasonable compensation depending on the injuries they suffer.

President Bhandari also issued an ordinance to regulate the sale and distribution of acid and other harmful chemicals.

According to the ordinance, acid and other harmful chemicals can be sold only after duly obtaining license for the same.

It adds that the government may issue license to only industries to purchase specific type of chemicals that they need. Sellers will have to keep a record of the amount of acid and other harmful chemicals they have sold to customers and the amount they have in their shops.

Acid and harmful chemicals cannot be sold or distributed to people below the age of 18. Only industries, laboratories, academic institutions and jewelry shops can purchase acid and other harmful chemicals.

Shops will have to keep details of persons who purchase acid and other harmful chemicals from them, including names of buyers, their parents’ name, addresses and contact telephone numbers of buyers.

It is important to note here that the President has authenticated only drafts of the ordinances while the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs has yet to finalize the content of the two ordinances so there might be some changes in their final drafts.

Meanwhile, only an effective implementation of the ordinances rather than the law itself would ensure a decline in such crimes.