RS panel approves amended Prevention of Torture Bill

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  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    http://netindian.in/news/2010/12/07/0009026/rs-panel-approves-amended-prevention-torture-bill

    The Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha has approved the amended Prevention of Torture Bill 2010 which seeks to provide for punishment for acts of torture inflicted by public servants or any person inflicting torture with consent of acquiscence of any public servant.

    Talking to reporters, Select Committee Chairman Asnwani Kumar said the proposed Bill was conceived as an enabling legislation to ratify the United Nations Convention against Torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading methods of treatment or punishment.

    Terming the Bill as a significant piece of legislation, Mr Kumar said it underscored the irrevocable commitment to basic and fundamental human rights enshrined in the Constitution.

    The Bill intends to "humanise" the administration of criminal justice system in the country. The panel had recommended stringent punishment for the acts of torture with a minimum three years of imprisonment to death penalty in the event of torture in custody. The fine proposed was a minimum of Rs 100,000 payable for torture and there was no cap on the maxmium level, Mr Kumar said.

    The panel also considered the issue of torture of women in the context of sexual abuse in custody and of children. "The UN Convention on Rights of the Child specifically states that no child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Our constitution too affirms the same," Mr Kumar said.

    Apart from Mr Kumar, the other members of the committee included Dr E M Sudarshana Natchiappan, Mr Shantharam Laxman Naik, Dr Vijayalakshmi Sadho, Dr Janardhan Waghmare, Mr S S Ahluwalia, Mr Kalraj Mishra, Ms Maya Singh, Mr Naresh Gujral, Ms Brinda Karat, Mr Satish Chandra Mishra, Mr Ahmad Saeed Malhabadi and Dr Ashok S Ganguli.

    The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on April 26, 2010 to allow India to ratify the UN Convention against torture and was pased by the Lower House on May 2010. It was referred to the Rajya Sabha Select Committee in August 2010. The panel has had nine sittings including a local visit. It received 80 memoranda in the process of examination of the Bill and heard 121 witnesses.
     
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  3. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Panel suggests severe punishment for torture

    Bill was referred to Select Committee following concerns over certain inadequacies in the draft legislation

    The Select Committee on the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010, has recommended stringent punishment for acts of torture by a public servant, including life imprisonment and or death sentence for death caused by torture in custody.

    The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in May but referred to a Rajya Sabha Select Committee following concerns expressed over certain inadequacies in the draft legislation.

    Chairman of the Select Committee Ashwini Kumar told journalists that the report, evidence and amendments to the Bill were adopted unanimously by the nine-memberpanel, all of whom voted on December 2. Three Bharatiya Janata Party members, S.S. Ahluwalia, Kalraj Mishra and Maya Singh, and Bahujan Samaj Party leader Satish Mishra were absent on the day of voting.
    Reservations

    Mr. Ahluwalia had expressed reservations about bringing in a ‘stand-alone' legislation and felt that it would suffice to amend the present criminal law to meet international obligations. The party, however, did not make any written observations.

    The panel report, which was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, has expanded the definition of ‘public servant' by bringing into the ambit of the Bill employees of government-run educational institutions, companies and organisations.

    It has also fine-tuned the definition of ‘torture' to bring it in line with the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which India is yet to ratify.
    Definition of torture

    The definition of ‘torture' in the proposed law will make cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by a public servant or anyone at his/her instance and which causes severe physical or mental pain, agony, trauma etc. as an act of torture. Acts of sexual abuse against women and torture of children have been added in the indicative list.

    On the issue of prior sanction to prosecute a ‘public servant' under the provisions of the legislation, the panel has recommended that “in case no decision is taken on the request for granting sanction [to prosecute the accused] within three months of the complaint, then sanction would deemed to have been granted. Where sanction has been denied, reasons have to be recorded, which would be open to judicial scrutiny.”

    “The provisions of prior sanction to prosecute have been retained in order to insulate government officials discharging their official duties diligently, against frivolous and vexatious complaints,” Mr. Kumar said.
    Compensation

    The panel has recommended provision of compensation to the tune of at least Rs. 1 lakh to the victims of torture. Provision of compensation for rehabilitation of torture victims has also been made in the proposed law. Any authorised representative of the victim of torture would have the right to file a complaint on behalf of the victim.
     

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