A major legislation to provide up to 10 years of imprisonment to public servants responsible for torturing any person to elicit information or other purposes was introduced in the Lok Sabha today.

The Prevention of Torture Bill 2010, introduced by Minister of State for Home Mullappally Ramachandran, is a stand-alone legislation which defines ‘torture’ and provides for punishment to those involved.

India had signed the U.N. Convention against Torture, Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment in October 1997, which required an enabling legislation to be adopted to reflect the definition and punishment for torture.

Although some provisions relating to the matter existed in the Indian Penal Code, these neither defined torture nor made it a criminal offence, the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill said.

Hence, it was found necessary that the domestic laws were brought in conformity with the Convention, thus necessitating either amending the existing laws or bringing a new legislation.

After considerable deliberations on the issue, it was decided to bring in a stand alone legislation so that the U.N. Convention could be ratified, it said.

The Bill provides that anyone convicted of torture for the purpose of extorting information or a confession or on grounds of race, religion, language, caste or community, would be punishable with imprisonment of up to 10 years and fine.

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