Draft law recommends life in jail for custodial torture
Suggested amendments in existing laws include presuming injuries sustained in custody as inflicted by police, and requiring the cops to prove otherwise.india Updated: Oct 30, 2017 21:16 IST
The law commission has proposed a new bill recommending life term and fine for public servants — read police — found guilty of custodial torture.
The panel on Monday submitted the draft law, titled The Prevention of Torture Bill 2017, as part of its 75-page report on the subject in response to a July reference from the law ministry to the commission.
It has also recommended that the government ratify a United Nations convention on “torture and other inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment”.
India is a signatory to the convention, but in the absence of an anti-torture law, it is yet to ratify the convention. As many as 160 countries have ratified the convention and not doing so puts India in the company of nations with an abysmal record on custodial torture, such as Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The UPA government had drafted a bill on torture in 2010 which could not be passed.
The draft law framed by the panel says to curb the menace of torture and to have a deterrent effect on acts of torture, stringent punishment to the perpetrators of such acts, including “punishment extending up to life imprisonment and fine”, needs to be handed out.
The report submitted to the law ministry proposes amendments to key criminal laws including the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, to include provisions regarding compensation and burden of proof.
It has recommended amendment to the Indian Penal Code to incorporate payment of compensation, in addition to imposition of fine.
It also said the Indian Evidence Act requires insertion of a new section 114B. “This will ensure that in case a person in police custody sustains injuries, it is presumed that those injuries have been inflicted by the police, and the burden of proof shall lie on the authority concerned to explain such injury,” it has recommended.
The panel has said the state should own the responsibility for the injuries caused by its agents on citizens, and the principle of sovereign immunity cannot override the rights assured by the Constitution.
“While dealing with the plea of sovereign immunity, the courts will have to bear in mind that it is the citizens who are entitled to fundamental rights, and not the agents of the state,” it said.