Wednesday, 1 July 2009

BHRPC demands repeal of AFSPA

BHRPC demands repeal of AFSPA
From our Staff Reporter, The Sentinel

SILCHAR, June 28:
The Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRCE) has sought intervention of the Prime Minister for repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 and other laws providing impunity, including sections 45 and 197 of the CrPC. The BHRPC has also demanded for amendment to the Human Rights Protection Act, 1993 to make its recommendations mandatory and repeal the Section 19 of the Act in order to bring the armed forces under the purview of the NHRC.

On the occasion of International anti-Torture Day, the BHRPC had written a letter to the Prime Minister of India reiterating its conviction that torture is a deliberate cruelty and a crude and ancient tool of political oppression.

"It is commonly used to terrorize people or to wring confessions out of suspected criminals who may or may not be guilty. It is the classic short-cut for a lazy or incompetent investigator," the BHRPC told the Prime Minister in its letter.

The letter stated, torture destroys the physical and mental integrity of the victim to its core. It also dehumanizes the performer and does irreparable damage to men, women and children, families and communities. It prevents societies from nurturing the human and economic development that is a right for all people.

It is also prohibited in India mainly by Article 21 of the Constitution, Section 330 and 331 of the Indian Panel Code (IPC), 1860 and other laws and also strongly condemned by the Supreme Court of India and High Courts in a number of landmark cases like D K BasuVs State of West Bengal.

The laws that virtually make confession to a police officer inadmissible as a piece of evidence in a court of law such as Article 20 (3) of the Constitution, Section 25, 26, and 27 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and Section 161,162, 163, and 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973 are rooted in the apprehension that police may subject the accused to torture to extract confession. It is a constitutional and statutory recognition that police may resort to torture and ill treatment, BHRPC stated in the letter to the Prime Minister.

The constitutional and statutory concern and mistrust of its own police and security forces is based on the experiences of decades and find strong echo in judicial pronouncement. In Niranjan Singh vs Prabhakar Rajaram (AIR1980 SC 785) the Supreme Court emphatically observed that, "The police instead of being a protector of law, have become engineer of terror and panic putting people into fear."
BHRPC is aware that there is no accurate data on the use of torture in India since the Government does not have an unambiguous and strong policy against torture. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) gathers figures on custodial deaths. But only a limited number of cases of torture results in death. Moreover, cause of death in custody may not always be torture.BHRPC relies on the Human rights groups with great credentials who maintain that torture is integral to counter-insurgency operations conducted by the military. Torture is used routinely in police custody. Based on data provided by the NHRC the Asian centre for Human Rights states in its report titled ‘Torture in India 2008: A state of denial’ that about 1,500 persons die in custody of the state each year.
Only four police personnel were convicted in 2004 and three in 2005. In 2004, 37 personnel were charge sheeted and 25 personnel were charge-sheeted in 2005 for custodial death and other criminal offences. Impunity for this custodial crimes stands exposed from the accepted number of the custodial deaths, compensation granted by the NHRC and courts based on the evidence, and the lake of corresponding prosecution of the guilty law enforcement personnel.
BHRPC claims that the government of India practices double standard regarding torture and argued that there are laws in India which encourage, condone torture and provide immunity to the torturer. Section 4 (a) of the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act,1958 empowers any commissioned officer, warrant officer, non-commissioned officer or any other person of equivalent rank in the armed force to ‘use force even to the causing of death’ against any person and section 6 ensures immunity of such torturer. Sections 45 and 197 of CRPC also guarantee such impunity.

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