New Delhi, Dec. 7: A parliamentary committee has fine-tuned the definition of torture and recommended stiff punishment in an attempt to ratify the UN convention against torture.
Death caused by torture in custody can attract capital punishment, according to the recommendations the Rajya Sabha select committee presented today along with the amended Prevention of Torture Bill.
The minimum compensation has been fixed at Rs 1 lakh.
The bill to provide for punishment against torture by public servants was passed by the Lok Sabha in May but was referred to the Rajya Sabha committee following concerns over inadequacies in the draft.
The amended bill incorporating the recommendations will go back to the Union cabinet and will be tabled in the Rajya Sabha. Once passed, it will go to the Lok Sabha for concurrence.
Employees of government-run organisations and educational institutions should be brought under the ambit of public servants, the committee has recommended.
Committee chairman Ashwani Kumar said the proposed law would humanise the administration of criminal justice and spare India negative publicity at international fora. Even Pakistan has signed the UN convention. It was a cause of negative publicity at international fora. Now India can notify the UN convention against torture after over 13 years of the convention being signed by India.
India had not been able to notify the convention for lack of an enabling legislation.
The definition of torture in the proposed law includes sexual abuse of women. Even a threat of rape becomes an act of torture and it has been added in the legislation, Kumar said.
The proposed law would override the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, he said.