Centre Considering A Dedicated Anti-Torture Law To Prevent Custodial Deaths

Centre Considering A Dedicated Anti-Torture Law To Prevent Custodial Deaths

A law specifically prohibiting torture is being considered by the Central Government.

The Union government has told the Supreme Court that it considering the 273rd Report of the Law Commission, which recommended that the United Nations Convention against Torture by ratified by India. The commission’s recommendation also asked the government to pass a law banning torture and punishing those guilty of it.

PIL Seeking New Law On Torture

The SC had sought a response from the Centre with respect to a Public Interest Litigation filed by former Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, who complained regarding the delay in ratifying the UN Convention by India.

India had signed the Convention in 1997.

The petition also sought that a separate law be introduced against torture. The court disposed of the case after hearing  that the government was considering the matter seriously.

Law Will Boost India’s Chances In Extradition Trials Abroad

Earlier the court had noted the reasons for having a standalone law.

India has made several extradition requests to other countries for offenders but some countries may have been hesitating to follow through on the extradition due to the lack of an anti- torture law in India.

Extradition courts  of United Kingdom turned down two requests made by India to send back offenders to face trial, citing the  reason that there was “no effective system of protection from torture in the receiving state”.

So the poor condition of India’s prisons, particularly the chronic problem of over-crowding, are a big reason for the country’s extradition requests failing to succeed.

Standalone Law Would be In National Interest

Ratifying the UN Convention and enacting a domestic law banning torture would be in national interest and also further the cause of human rights protection.

The problem of custodial violence is still widespread in the country.  The recent case of a bus conductor who was forced to confess to the murder of a schoolchild highlights the use of torture by law enforcement authorities.

In 2010, the Prevention of Torture Bill was cleared by the Lok Sabha to tackle this problem, but it lapsed after it was passed on to a Select Committee in the Rajya Sabha.

The question was since referred to Law Commission this July, which has submitted a report. The Commission has also given in a draft Bill for the government’s review, which not only provides a framework for penalizing public servants who are guilty of inflicting torture, but also details compensation that is required to be paid to victims.

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