UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT)
- UNCAT prohibits torture, and requires parties to take effective measures to prevent it in any territory under their jurisdiction
- India is a signatory since 1997, but is one of the eight countries that has still not ratified it
Acts and Bills
Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010
Seeks to provide for punishment for torture committed by government officials
- The Bill defines torture as “grievous hurt”, or danger to life, limb and health.
- Torture is not defined in the Indian Penal Code, but the definitions of ‘hurt’ and ‘grievous hurt’ are clearly laid down
- The offences of causing hurt or grievous hurt to extort confession are punishable under sections 330 and 331 of the Indian Penal Code
- Complaints against torture have to be made within six months. The sanction of the appropriate government is required before a court can entertain a complaint.
- Grounds: for extorting confession, purposefully punishing, or inflicting torture on the grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever
- Punishment for torture includes imprisonment up to 10 years and fine.
- draft Prevention of Torture Bill, 2017: In case torture leads to death, the punishment includes death or life imprisonment in addition to fine.
273rd Report of the Law Commission, 2017
Report on implementation of UNCAT and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment
- recommended amendments to the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 to ensure that in case a person sustains injuries in police custody, it will be presumed that these have been inflicted by the police. The burden of proof shall lie on the police authorities to explain such injuries.
- recommendedratifying UNCAT
- recommended that an effective mechanism be put in place to protect victims of torture, complainants, and witnesses
- recommended amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 to allow for payment of compensation in case of torture
- Sovereign immunity: Sovereign immunity is the principle that the government is not responsible for the actions of its agents (such as police forces). The Commission states that agents of the government cannot engage in torture. The Commission reiterated that citizens are entitled to constitutional rights such as the right to life and personal liberty.
- July, 20
- torture of a father-son duo in Sattankulam town in Tamil Nadu