SC disposes of PIL seeking law against torture, custodial violence

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday disposed of a PIL seeking to put in place a statutory framework to curb torture and custodial violence as it said that it can’t direct the government to make an anti-torture law or ratify the UN convention against Torture.

The bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M.Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y.Chandrachud disposed of the petition by senior counsel and former Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar seeking that India meets it constitutional and international commitment to prevent torture and custodial violence.

The court order came as Attorney General K.K.Venugopal told the bench that the plea against torture was diuscussed by the Law Commission and its has made certain recommendations and the same were being “seriously considered” by the Government.

Seeking the empowering of the National Human Rights Commissions with necessary statutory powers so that it could enforce its orders and directions, Ashwini Kumar has contended that because of the absence of law in this regard, India has not signed the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which came into force way back in 1987.

He had cited the Constitution’s Article 21 (Protection of life and personal liberty), Article 51 (Promotion of international peace and security), Article 253 (Legislation for giving effect to international agreements) to back his plea for direction to the Centre to put in place a statutory regime to curb torture sand custodial violence.

In the May 5 hearing of the PIL, the court, in its order, had said: “We have been made to understand that the issue has been engaging the attention of the Parliament for some years now. The legislative determination is essentially within the domain of the Parliament, and as such, it may not be proper for us, to issue any direction in that behalf.”

In a hearing in January this year, the top court, considering the importance of the issue, said that it deserved a “holistic view” and appointed senior counsel Colin Gonsalves as amicus curiae to assist the court.