The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment adopted and opened by the UN General Assembly in December 1984 defines torture as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or third person information or a confession….” It may be “inflicted by or at the instigation of or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacityArticle 20 of the Indian Constitution states that no person shall be convicted of any offense except for violation of the law in force at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offense, nor be subjected to a penalty greater than that which might have been inflicted under the law in force at the time of the commission of the offense. It also stated that no person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offense more than once and no person accused of any offense shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. Further, Article 21 states that No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

In the case of D.K.Basu the Supreme Court stated that Custodial death is one of the worst crimes in a civilized society governed by the Rule of Law. Does a citizen shed off his fundamental right to life, the moment a policeman arrests him? Can the right to life of a citizen be put in abeyance on his arrest? The answer, indeed, has to be an emphatic No. Section 30 in The Protection of Human Rights Act further states that that for the purpose of providing speedy trial of offenses arising out of violation of human rights, the State Government may, with the concurrence of the Chief Justice of the High Court, by notification, specify for each district a Court of Session to be a Human Rights Court to try the said offenses: Provided that nothing in this section shall apply if—
(a) a Court of Session is already specified as a special court; or
(b) a special court is already constituted, for such offenses under any other law for the time being in force.

Article 22 provides four basic fundamental rights with respect to conviction. These include being informed of the grounds of arrest, to be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice, preventive detention laws, and production before the nearest Magistrate within 24 hours of the arrest of the person. Thus, these provisions are designed to ensure that a person is not subjected to any ill-treatment that is devoid of statutory backing or surpasses prescribed excesses.

Section 7 and 9 of the Indian Police Act states that the police need to perform their duty as prescribed and if they will not do that then they can be penalized. Custodial Death is a scar on human rights and with its presence, justice can’t be served.

India signed the UN Convention against Torture or Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) in 1997. However, taking necessary legal steps to make Indian laws correspond to the UN convention commitments) is yet to be done. 



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