The Cabinet today approved a proposal to introduce the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010 in the Parliament. This is a step towards ratification of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9th December, 1975 [resolution 3452(XXX)]. India had signed the Convention in October, 1997.
Ratification of the Convention requires enabling legislation having provisions that would be necessary to give effect to the Articles of the Convention. Although some provisions exist in the Indian Penal Code, they neither define “torture” as clearly as in Article 1 of the Convention nor make it criminal as called for by Article 4.
For ratification of the Convention, therefore, the domestic laws of our country would require to be brought in tune with the provisions of the Convention. This would necessitate either amendment of the existing laws such as Indian Penal Code or bringing in a new piece of legislation. The matter was examined at length in consultation with the Law Commission of India and the then Learned Attorney General of India.
After a lot of deliberation on the issue, it was decided to bring a piece of ‘stand alone’ legislation so that the Convention could be ratified. Accordingly, a draft Bill, namely the ‘Prevention of Torture Bill, 2009’, was drafted.
As the matter is in the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India, the views of the State Governments were sought. The views of the concerned Central Ministries were also obtained.