SC reserves judgement on PIL seeking anti-torture law; fulfilment of international commitments can’t be subject of petition, bench says

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its judgement on a petition seeking direction regarding the delay in defining and enacting a law in connection with torture in accordance with the United Nations' Convention Against Torture, of which India is a signatory.

The petition was filed by advocate and former law minister Ashwini Kumar, who sought that the apex court take onus of enactment of the law as governments have failed to do the same.

 SC reserves judgement on PIL seeking anti-torture law; fulfilment of international commitments can’t be subject of petition, bench says

File image of the Supreme Court of India. AP

A three-judge bench, comprising of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Dinesh Maheswari and Sanjiv Khanna, reserved the judgement, stating that fulfilment of international commitments cannot be a subject of the petition. The PIL asked the court to enact a law for witness protection in accordance with international conventions.

On Wednesday, SC had accorded a day-long hearing to the PIL which sought the formation of the law since India was a signatory to the United Nations' Convention on Torture. Miffed by Kumar’s statement about the court not giving time to this case, the bench told Kumar that while the apex court hears his PIL, he will have to deal with grievances of "1.3 billion people which is half of the population of the world".

The former law minister said that India is a signatory of the United Nations' Convention Against Torture since 1997. He also pointed that out five persons are killed every day in custody in India and that only seven countries are yet to frame it.

The PIL was filed by Kumar in 2016 and was disposed of in November 2017. Kumar told the apex court that no steps had been taken to implement the Prevention of Torture Bill 2010 even after it was passed by the Lok Sabha on 6 May, 2010 and recommended by a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha of which he had been the chairman.

Earlier, the apex court had directed chief secretaries of all state governments to give their feedback on the Centre's draft law to prevent custodial torture and inhuman treatment within a period of three weeks.

Kumar’s PIL also sought to empower agencies like the National Human Rights Commission with capabilities to implement its orders.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Updated Date: Feb 14, 2019 19:23:29 IST