Eleven years after India signed a United Nations convention on torture, the cabinet on Thursday is expected to consider a new law defining mental and physical torture.
As many as 145 countries in the world have brought domestic laws defining torture after signing the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment. Only eight nations — Sudan, Comoros, Congo, Dominican Republic, Sao Tome and Principe, Gambia, Nauru and Guinea-Bissau — which signed the treaty, have not brought domestic law.
The Prevention of Torture Bill, piloted by the home ministry, defines both mental and physical torture. Indian codes of criminal law and procedure do not extend the classification of torture to mental acts, though there have been court judgments that have provided a more broad-based description.
The UN treaty says there can’t be any “exceptional circumstances” to justify torture — not even “a state of war”.