Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 24
Having a law against torture in terms of UN Convention was in “our own national interest,” the Supreme Court said on Monday.
“India faces problems in extradition of criminals from foreign countries because of this (having no law against torture). It’s in our own national interest to have such a law,” a Bench of Chief Justice of India JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud said. “It’s also an issue of international reputation of the country,” it added.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by former Law Minister Ashwini Kumar seeking a direction to the government to put in place a proper legal framework in terms of International Convention against Torture which India signed in 1997. The top court had in September 2016 issued a notice to the Centre on the PIL that demanded proper guidelines to prevent torture, cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment of jail inmates. It also sought rehabilitation, relief and compensation for victims of custodial violence and torture.
The former Law Minister gave the example of Purulia Arms Drop Case accused Kim Davy who could not be extradited from Sweden to face trial in India. “India is berated for it,” he added.
Terming it as a matter of “sublime importance”, he said of the 161 countries which were signatories to the 1997 United Nation Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, only nine, including India, had not ratified it. Kumar was supported by Amicus Curiae Colin Gonsalves who submitted that even the NHRC has said India needed a standalone law on the subject.
The court gave 10 days to the government to firm up the government’s response after the Solicitor General told the Bench that Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi would be away to Geneva between May 2 and 9 for a conference on the subject. He said he would take up the issue with the Home Ministry and Law Ministry.
Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar explained to the Bench the steps taken by the government and submitted that the bill on the issue had lapsed. Kumar said the government has referred the issue to the Law Commission which was examining it. “So many matters are pending before the Law Commission. It should be taken up as a matter which requires extreme urgency,” the Bench said.
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