In wake of the alleged custodial death of a father-son duo in Tamil Nadu, DMK MP A Raja on Thursday wrote a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, requesting the introduction of Prevention of Torture Bill, 2017 in the forthcoming session of the Parliament.
The draft of the Bill, which seeks life in jail for public servants convicted of torture, was prepared by the Law Commission to implement the United Nations Convention against torture.
P Jayaraj and his son Bennix, arrested for allegedly violating lockdown norms over the business hours of their cellphone shop in Thoothukudi district, died at a hospital on June 22 and 23. Their family and relatives alleged that they were severely thrashed at the Sathankulam police station by the personnel earlier.
The incident triggered a nationwide furore leading to the suspension of five policemen, including an inspector and two sub-inspectors. The Superintendent of Police of Thoothukudi was shunted out of the district and placed under "compulsory wait". As of Thursday, an inspector, two sub-inspector and a head constable had been arrested and booked for murder by the CB-CID, which is investigating the case based on the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court’s orders.
Deploring the incident, the DMK MP in the letter said the custodial death has raised "eyebrows due to the sheer scale of torture and violence perpetrated by the Tamil Nadu police."
Underlining that custodial death is one of the worst crimes in civilised society, Raja requested Amit Shah to make sure that the Bill is enacted in parliament in the forthcoming session.
"In these circumstances, on behalf of the DMK, it is prayed that the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2017 may be processed judiciously and enacted in the parliament with additional provisions (if necessary) to address the issues emerged in the Santhankulam incident in the forthcoming session itself or promulgate an ordinance through presidential route," Raja said in the letter.
Raja, a lawyer himself, said the Supreme Court had also issued detailed guidelines to safeguard the rights of an arrestee as well as to curb the unauthorised arrests or tortures by the police officers. Arrests should be made to secure the orchestration of law, but the safeguarding of human rights — be it an innocent or an accused — is paramount, he added.