Rajya Sabha refers torture prevention bill to select committee


New Delhi : The Rajya Sabha Tuesday decided to refer the Prevention of Torture Bill to a select committee.

Support TwoCircles

Home Minister P. Chidambaram moved a motion in the Rajya Sabha seeking that the bill which provides for punishment for torture inflicted by public servants or any person inflicting torture with the consent or acquiescence of any public servant, as passed by Lok Sabha, be referred to a select committee of the house.

He said that the committee would give its report in the first week of the next session.

The statement of objects and reasons of he Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010, states that it is being brought in to ratify the UN Convention of Torture. India is a signatory of the convention but has not enacted a law on torture which would enable it to ratify it. The bill defines torture and prescribes conditions under which torture is punishable.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Brinda Karat told reporters that it was essential not to dilute the Indian version of the UN Convention. She expressed satisfaction that the bill had been referred to a select committee.

The Bill defines torture as “grievous hurt, or danger to life, limb and health”. Complaints against torture have to be made within six months and sanction of the appropriate government is required before a court can entertain a complaint.

According to analysis done by PRS Legislative Research, an independent research initiative that tracks functioning of parliament, the bill violates several provisions of the UN convention.

The PRS Legislative Research has posted key issues and analysis about the bill on its website.

It says the definition of torture in the legislation is inconsistent with the definition in the convention against torture and requires the intention of the accused to be proved. The definition also does not include mental pain or suffering and some acts which may constitute torture.

The analysis of PRS Legislative Research says the bill also dilutes existing laws by imposing a time limit of six months and requiring prior government sanction for trying those accused of torture. Existing laws do not have such requirements.

There is no independent authority to investigate complaints of torture, and no provision for granting compensation to torture victims has been made, it added.