The government has finalized an amended draft of an anti-torture Bill and will soon bring it before Parliament, the Rajya Sabha was told on Wednesday.
“I cannot give a guarantee on time frame that it will be brought in so many months but I assure the House that a full-fledged draft Bill has been prepared. The draft has been sent to Law Ministry,” Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary said replying to questions about bringing for passage the amended Prevention of Torture Bill 2010 before the Parliament.
The Minister said certain amendments have been made in the earlier Bill including replacing the word “hurt” with “hurt and torture”.
“A proposal to suitably amend Section 330 and Section 331 of the Indian Penal Code is currently under examination,” he said in the written reply.
In the written reply, the Minister said the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010 was prepared as an enabling legislation to ratify the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The Bill was passed by Lok Sabha on May 5, 2010. The Rajya Sabha referred it to the Select Committee for scrutiny.
The Select Committee referred the Bill for enactment with certain modifications. Comments of State governments and Union Territory administrations were called.
Some of the State governments felt that adequate provisions already exist in the Indian Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure and suggested suitable amendments in the existing provisions of these laws.
In the meanwhile, the Bill lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha in May 2014, necessitating introduction of a new Bill in the House.
Members wanted to know the reasons for the delay in bringing the Bill.
One of the members took potshots at the government saying “you bring all anti-democratic Bill like on Uttarakhand so fast. Give us a specific time by when you are bringing this Bill.”
Pawan Varma (JDU) wanted to know whether one of the five permanent members China has decided against ratifying the Convention.
Responding to another question about details of the steps taken by government to improve conviction rates in cases of custodial torture resulting in deaths, the Minister said that under seventh schedule of the Constitution of India, Police and Public Order are State subjects.
“And therefore, the State governments are primarily responsible for prevention, registration, detection and investigation of crime and prosecution of the perpetrators of crime within their jurisdiction, including those causing custodial torture leading to deaths.
“The National Human Rights Commission has issued guidelines from time to time to be followed by the law enforcing agencies in cases of custodial death. Advisories have also been issued by the government to all states and Union Territories on measures to be taken on relevant issues like arrest of individual,” he said.