Centre to accelerate process for Anti-Custodial Torture Law: SC

  • The supreme court recently said that introducing a law against torture as per the UN convention was in the country’s national interest.

    “India faces problems in extradition of criminals from foreign countries because of having no law against torture. It’s in our own national interest to have such a law,” a bench of Chief Justice of India JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud said.

    According to home ministry data published in 2015, the number of unnatural deaths of prisoners increased from 126 to 195 between 2012-2014.

    Former law minister Ashwini Kumar filed a PIL to have a legal framework in terms of the International Convention against Torture which India signed in 1997. In September 2016, the SC had issued notice to the Centre on the PIL. Kumar also wants proper guidelines to prevent torture, cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment of jail inmates. There should be a scheme to rehabilitate, provide relief and compensation for victims of custodial violence and torture, he said.

    Kumar said the matter was of “sublime importance”. Out of the 161 countries that signed the 1997 convention, India is among nine countries which have not sanctioned it.

    Kumar’s submission was supported by senior advocate Colin Gonsalves who is assisting the court in the matter. He stated that even the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has stressed on the need to have a standalone law in India.

    With an observation that it is an issue of international reputation and the government has to deal with it expeditiously, the Chief Justice of India-led bench has asked the Centre to speed up the process to take a decision for the enactment of anti-custodial torture law.
    “It needs to be dealt with extreme urgency”, CJI JS Khehar said and asked Solicitor-General Ranjit Kumar to inform the court about the status in 10 days. 

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