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Most States silent on draft bill on torture

Most States silent on draft bill on torture
Highlights

It had also asked for their views on a law panel report submitted to the Law Ministry in October 2017 on a proposal to amend sections 330 and 331 of the Indian Penal Code to include torture as a crime

Most States have maintained silence on a draft bill which seeks life in jail for public servants convicted of torture. So far, only four States - Meghalaya, Sikim, Jharkand and Himachal Pradesh - have conveyed their agreements with the draft bill prepared by the Law Commission. According to a Law Ministry note which was prepared for use in Lok Sabha Question Hour, the Centre had in November reminded all States to send their views on the draft 'Prevention of Torture Bill, 2017'.

It had also asked for their views on a law panel report submitted to the Law Ministry in October 2017 on a proposal to amend sections 330 and 331 of the Indian Penal Code to include 'torture' as a crime. The proposal was sent to the Law Commission, then headed by Justice (retd) B S Chauhan for its views. The law panel submitted a report on implementation of the United Nations Convention against torture and also prepared the draft bill.

The report, as well as the draft bill, were sent to States for their views earlier this year as criminal laws are in the concurrent list and stands of the states are required. Recommending life in jail for public servants convicted of torture, the Law Commission has said the government should ratify a UN convention to tide over difficulties in extraditing criminals from foreign countries due to the absence of a law preventing harsh treatment by authorities.

It also said in case the government decided to ratify the UN convention on torture and other inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, a bill should be introduced in Parliament to amend various laws to prevent torture by government officials. The draft 'Prevention of torture bill, 2017' proposes "stringent punishment" to perpetrators to curb instances of torture and to have a deterrent effect. The punishment could extend up to life imprisonment and also include a fine.

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