The Supreme Court on Monday deferred the pleas concerning custodial torture to October 7, 2020 and informed Amicus Curiae Senior Advocate Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi to commence the arguments when the pleas are taken up.
A Bench of Justices UU Lalit, Ajay Rastogi and Vineet Saran was hearing a batch of petitions regarding the need for elaborate guidelines to ensure the elimination of custodial torture. The pleas had been filed in the wake of the horrific incident of custodial deaths of the father-son duo of Jayaraj and Bennix in Tamil Nadu in June 2020.
The court informed the counsels present that, as a number of lawyers sought to argue in the instant issue, the matter would be taken up as the first item on 7th October, at 10:30 AM. Further, Dr. Singhvi would be commencing the arguments with his submissions and would guide the court as the Amicus Curiae. Dr. Singhvi, who had also acted as Amicus Curiae in the 1996 case of DK Basu v. State of West Bengal, has filed an Application seeking for the revival of the proceedings in the landmark case. It further states that there has been an "increasing trend of normalizing of custodial deaths" which necessitate the need for a "robust, uniform, effective and working investigation and mortaring apparatus".
The Application also highlights the huge increase in custodial violence and related crimes as per the statistics provided by the National Crime Record Bureau. Apart from the Application, one of the writ petitions states that the Tamil Nadu incident "underlines afresh the urgent need for institutional correctives within the policing system in this country and the acute need for India to enact a strong law to prohibit and prosecute cases of torture and custodial deaths, in fulfillment of its legal obligations, both national and international, to guarantee protection to right to life".
Filed by People's Charioteer Organisation (PCO), the plea submits that despite the guidelines of the Supreme Court in the DK Basu case, custodial torture is continuing unabated.
"…there are gaping legal lacunae in the legal, legislative and statutory framework of India, owing to which we're witnessing a prevailing epidemic of Custodial Violence/Rapes/Torture, at the hands of certain men in uniforms, which equates to nothing but a blatant violation and mockery of Human Rights, legitimized, facilitated and perpetrated by State Machinery," it says.
The Petitioner states that there has been a lack of implementation of the guidelines as passed by the Supreme Court in cases of Prakash Singh v. Union of India and DK Basu v. State of West Bengal. In this background, the plea prays for issuance and laying down of guidelines to fill the gaping lacunae in the Indian legal system, and for ensuring an effective and purposeful framework and its enforcement to fulfil the constitutional obligation of ensuring and securing the right to life and to live with human dignity and prevention of custodial torture/deaths/rapes, in exercise of the plenary and inherent power of the Supreme Court, under Article 142 of the Constitution of India.