Petition to enact Law against Torture
A writ petition in Public Interest under Article 32 of the Constitution of India to ensure an effective and purposeful legislative framework/law through its enforcement to fulfill the Constitutional promise of human dignity and prevention of custodial torture at all levels and further, to ensure that India meets its constitutional and international commitments with regard to prevention of torture, custodial violence and preservation of human dignity in terms of Article 21, 51 and 253 of the Constitution and international treaties. The petition was filed on the basis that on 9/12/1975, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by the United Nations General Assembly on 10/12/1984. The Convention was signed by India on 14/10/1997. Though a signatory to the Convention India has not ratified the same in the absence of a domestic enabling and enforceable legislation in that behalf. As on date, India does not have standalone legislation dealing comprehensively with or Custodial Torture. Since, there is no legislation in India dealing with the various aspects of custodial violence and torture to enable the ratification of the Convention, it was felt necessary that the domestic laws of India be brought into conformity with the Convention through a specific comprehensive Legislation addressing various aspects relating to custodial violence and Torture. This, “The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010” (“Torture Bill”) dated 19.4.2010 was introduced in the Lok Sabha which was subsequently, passed by the Lok Sabha on 06.05.2010. The Torture Bill, as passed by the Lok Sabha was referred to a Select Committee of Parliament comprising of 13 members of Rajya Sabha on 31.08.2010 (“Select Committee”). The Select Committee submitted its report to the Rajya Sabha on 06.12.2010 as endorsed by the members present at the time of its adoption. However, the Torture Bill lapsed on the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha. The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India in an answer to a question raised in the Lok Sabha on 11.05.2016, whether the Government was planning to ratify the UN Convention against Torture, has stated that the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010 had lapsed on the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha. However, a proposal to suitably amend Section 330 and 331 of the Indian Penal Code was currently under examination and has in fact suggested that there is no need for standalone legislation in this behalf. The nature of the proposed amendments to the IPC, their scope and reach has not been spelt out despite the lapse of over six years from the submission of the report of the Select Committee and about twenty years after India signed the UN Convention that came into force in 1987. In the meantime, instances of torture continue to rise and thousands of citizens are subjected to inhuman treatment in custody resulting in grave infraction of their fundamental human rights and dignity. Hence, this Writ Petition in Public Interest to ensure that India has a comprehensive law for the prevention of Torture, Cruelty, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, Death in Police Custody and to ensure that the Rights of Individuals in Custody are protected and consistent with the UN Convention against torture, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and dignatarion goals of the Constitution.