The Torture Bill ~ Tejus RS

Crime in India statistics looks grim. The graph is on the rise year on year which is a worrying symptom. Adding salt to the injury is the Prevention of The Torture Bill which when passed would make the law enforcement agencies like the Police and Forest departments helpless and weak. India is home to notorious criminals indulging in various types of crimes ranging from stabbing to rape and murder. Organised crime in India functions systematically like any formal organisation, and it is now facing its gradual downfall- thanks to some brave public servants. The crime rate under the head IPC (Indian Penal Code) for the years 2014, ’15 & ’16 is 229.2, 234.2 & 233.6 respectively. The crime rate under the head SLL (Special & Local Laws) for the years 2014, ’15 & ’16 is 138.3, 139.9 & 145.7 respectively. The total adds up to 367.5, 374.1 & 379.3 for the same years. These numbers are in a way approximate because many incidents of crime do not get reported due to many reasons. The forest department staff are always under threat by poachers, encroachers and other such similar people. In Karnataka, the Chamarajanagar & Shivamogga forest areas are deadly for the forest staff where attacks are a common sight. The department will be so helpless even for the self-defence.

The Prevention of Torture Bill is based on the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment because India is a signatory to this Convention it is necessary to ratify. Section 3 of the Bill says

 “Whoever, being a public servant or being abetted by a public servant or with the

consent or acquiescence of a public servant, intentionally does any act for the purposes to

punish or to obtain information from any person, whether in police custody or otherwise,

which causes,—

(i) grievous hurt to any person; or

(ii) danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of any person, is

said to inflict torture:

Provided that nothing contained in this section shall apply to any pain, hurt or

danger as aforementioned caused by any act, which is inflicted in accordance with any procedure established by law”.

Use of harsh methods is inevitable in some instances for some people and not for all. There will have to be an element of fear in the minds of criminals and most importantly for the aspiring budding criminals. There are a few parts in India which are known for its notoriety, and people can’t walk or drive freely in those parts. One small incident within minutes a mob will be formed. This section proves to be disastrous for the law enforcers as they might end up in jail while helping in cleaning the society. Inflicting torture on everybody is not acceptable, and at the same time, it cannot be discontinued entirely. It is becoming increasingly difficult for the police and the forest department because the criminals can afford vast amounts for lawyers to help them get rid of the cases.

Section 4 speaks about the punishment for the public servants for inflicting torture. The term of punishment for the public servants ranges from 3 to 10 years. It will hurt the working and will morally affect the minds of the public servants.

Understanding the ground reality of how criminals work and the difficulties faced by the law enforcers with the criminals is imperative for legislators. If torture to be not the method, then people entering the crime world should be prevented. There must be clause by clause redraft of the Bill which doesn’t make the law enforcers helpless.

Wildlife crime is estimated to be around 20 billion USD and second only to narcotics. Use of guns and guards approach is a need for the officials.

There is a need for the progression in the forensic and the working of the prisons and courts which would create an atmosphere of justice to the victims of crimes, and the use of the lathis should not be ruled out entirely because in its absence it will act as a launchpad for more heinous crimes.

About The Author

Tejus is a Bengaluru based conservation enthusiast.