Khurshid gives no time-frame for tabling anti-torture billJune 26th, 2012 - 11:42 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, June 26 (IANS) Union Law and Justice Minister Salman Khurshid Tuesday refrained from giving a time-frame as to when the proposed bill for the prevention of torture would be tabled in parliament.
He attributed the delay in the finalisation and tabling of the bill to systemic causes.
Khurshid said the bill that was cleared by the select committee of Rajya Sabha was under consideration of the home ministry and he did not exactly know its status.
“I wish I knew when and on which desk it was resting,” Khurshid said, on the sideline of a function on the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
He delivered the keynote address at the event jointly organised by the Delegation of European Union to India and the United Nations Information Centre for India and Bhutan.
Responding to a query by Delhi High Court’s former chief justice A.P. Shah, Khurshid said that the “urgency” being articulated by the participants for bringing the anti-torture law “must be felt (by the home ministry) in the scheduling and passing of the bill by parliament”.
Shah, who was on the penal of speakers, asked the minister why even one and half years after the bill was finalised by the Rajya Sabha’s select committee, it had yet to be brought before parliament.
Khurshid said: “It is not always intentional that we take a long time. There are systems that cause delays.”
He pointed to the communal violence bill and said there were differences on the contentious bill but on the anti-torture bill the differences were marginal. These concerned whether it should be a part of the Code of Criminal Procedure or be a stand-alone law.
Khurshid told the audience that it had been decided that it would be a stand-alone statute.
National Commission for Minorities chairman Wajahat Habibullah said that the existing laws were “adequate” and would become “enough” after the anti-torture law was enacted.
Advocating reform of the colonial mind-set of police, Habibullah said that though there was a “change in the attitude but (police) structure remains (unchanged)”.
He said those in uniform accused of committing atrocities were never hauled up and kept getting promotions and went into retirement as if they had done nothing wrong.
Referring to the May 1987 Hashimpura riots in Meerut, Habibullaha said the erring police officials might have been got divine punishment but they were never punished under the law.
Pointing to the police torture, Justice Shah said that during 2001-10 period, 14,231 people died while in custody, and of these 1,514 died in police custody and the remaining in judicial custody.
He said that National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had been awarding compensation to victims of torture but rarely gave directions to make erring police officials to account for their conduct.
Describing torture as an abhorrent violation of human rights and human dignity, European Union Ambassador Joao Cravinho said: “Torture is not only a tragedy for the victims, it is also degrading and injuring those who perpetrate it and to societies which tolerate such outrage.”
United Nation Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said in a message: “Twentyfive years since the entry into force of the Convention against Torture, this cruel and dehumanising practice remains pervasive.”
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Tags: cause delays, chief justice, colonia, communal violence, contentious bill, delhi high court, habibullah, half years, home ministry, justice minister, keynote address, law and justice, rajya sabha, salman, select committee, sideline, systemic causes, united nations information centre, victims of torture, wajahat