New Delhi: Senior advocate and former Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar on Monday hoped the Centre would soon enact anti-torture law to meet international obligations.
He was talking to media after the Supreme Court refused to further entertain his plea seeking directions to the Centre to enact laws to define and prevent torture.
“This has had a long history. In 1997, India signed the UN convention against torture but we couldn’t ratify it because we didn’t have any domestic law dealing with torture per say. In 2010, the Standing Committee of the Parliament unanimously recommended such a law but no government was actually able to enact the legislation translating the recommendations,” Kumar said.
He informed that he had filed the plea in 2016 in his own capacity as a public interest litigator and sought the court to seek the views of the government and to direct the government for the purpose of enforcing our international treaty obligations under Article 253 and the law under Article 21.
“The Attorney General of India today appeared and told the court that the Law Commission of India on October 27 has recommended a standalone legislation which should deal with torture and what happens to people in custody; how those people should be compensated and rehabilitated. So, in view of the statement of Attorney General, the court said there was no further need in the matter. I am very happy that the government is considering such a law,” the former Law Minister said.
In October, the Law Commission had submitted its 273rd report to the Centre, recommending ratification of the UN Convention against Torture, enactment of stand-alone legislation and amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973, and the Evidence Act, 1872.
The former Law Minister further added that anti-torture legislation is must because people like Abu Salem and Jagtar Singh Johal, who are involved in terrorist activities and people like Kim Devis, and Vijay Mallya have been saying that we will not to India for trial because we are subjected to torture in custody.
“This has international ramifications because India was asked every year in the UN Human Rights Review that what India was doing in bringing this legislation. I am hopeful that in view of the Attorney General’s statement today and the Law Commission’s report, some useful work will be done,” Kumar said. He hinted of adopting other recourse if the Centre doesn’t enact the anti-torture law.