The Supreme Court today sought response from the government on a petition seeking framing of an effective law to prevent torture and inhuman treatment of individuals in custody.
A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice A M Khanwilkar issued notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs and sought its reply on a PIL for “rehabilitation, relief and compensation” for victims of custodial violence.
The apex court was hearing a PIL filed by senior advocate and former law minister Ashwani Kumar, who has sought directions to empower agencies like National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) with the necessary enforcement capabilities and mechanism for implementation of its orders and directions.
Referring to Delhi University Professor G N Saibaba, a 90 per cent physically disabled and wheelchair-bound person who was allegedly brutalised by police in Nagpur Jail, Kumar said that torture meted out to thousands of prisoners in custody “shocks the constitutional conscience”.
Kumar said despite being a signatory to the United Nations’ Convention Against Torture, 1997, India has not ratified the convention so far since ratification requires an enabling legislation to reflect the definition and punishment for ‘torture’.
“Absence of a standalone, comprehensive, and purposeful municipal legislation in India for the prevention of custodial violence, and disinclination of the executive and legislature to enact a law in this regard has resulted in a disturbing void in law endangering the constitutional right of persons affected by custodial violence and torture,” the plea said.