Panel recommends compensation for torture victims

Victims of torture inflicted by public servants may be eligible to get compensation from their tormentors.

New Delhi: Victims of torture inflicted by public servants may be eligible to get compensation from their tormentors if the suggestions of a Parliamentary panel on the Prevention of Torture Bill are accepted and turned into law.

The Select Committee on the Bill has also finetuned the definition of the torture to bring it in line with the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The Prevention of Torture Bill, that seeks to provide punishment for torture inflicted by public servants, was passed by the Lok Sabha in May but was referred to a Rajya Sabha Select Committee following concerns expressed over certain inadequacies in the draft legislation.

"We considered suggestions to incorporate provisions for monetary compensation of the victims of torture payable by torturers," a committee member said.
He said among other provisions, the definition of `torture` in the proposed bill was on the agenda and members felt that it was not clear in the present laws.

Another member said the draft legislation will also seek to ensure that the power of sanctioning prosecution under the proposed law would vest with a senior officer to ensure transparency.

"A time-frame is also proposed to be set to ensure that sanctioning of prosecution is not delayed. The sanctioning authority will have to give in writing reasons for denying or approving the sanction," he said.
The proposed stand alone law will help India ratify the UN Convention on prevention of torture which it had signed in 1997.

Due to lack of an enabling domestic legislation, India has so far not been able to ratify the convention.
The amended bill incorporating the recommendations of the panel will be tabled in the Upper House. Once passed, the bill will travel back to the Lok Sabha for its concurrence before becoming a law.


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