GUWAHATI: The National Campaign Against Torture (NCAT) in its submission, “The indispensability of adding offences of torture in Indian Penal Code”, today lambasted the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws established by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for exclusion of torture from its agenda on criminal law reforms.
“Union Home Minister Amit Shah while addressing the 29th Foundation Day of the Bureau of Police Research and Development on 29 August 2019 stated that ‘the era of third-degree is gone’ and called for a nationwide discussion on amendments needed in the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code to address the same.
However, the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws set up by the MHA has failed to include torture in its questionnaires for the First and Second Consultations on Substantive Criminal Law. This self-censorship is a matter of grave concern as torture adversely affects the entire criminal justice system and the no reform of criminal justice can be meaningful without addressing torture,” NCAT Coordinator Suhas Chakma said.
The NCAT stated that the Constitution of India, the Indian Evidence Act and the Criminal Procedure Code provided necessary safeguards against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by the public servants. However, the Indian Penal Code (IPC) does not adequately criminalise the offences of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment when these constitutional and legal safeguards are violated by the public servants and therefore, acts of torture mostly go unpunished.
The NHRC registered 35,554 cases of custodial deaths/rapes including 31,779 cases in judicial custody and 3,775 cases in police custody by the NHRC during 1994-1995 to 2018-2019.
The NCAT recommended to the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws to insert two new sub-sections “320(2): Torture and other cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” and “331(2): Punishment for torture and other cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” in the Indian Penal Code; and further insert.
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