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Torture as such has not been defined in the Indian Penal Code or for that matter in the Indian Constitution.


It is defined in great detail by the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. However, the definition offered by the Tokyo Declaration is more clear and without any exclusions and even as the World Medical Association adopts the Tokyo Declaration, it would perhaps be apt to consider that definition.

“Torture” has been defined as, “The deliberate systematic or wanton infliction of physical or mental suffering by one or more persons acting alone or on the orders of any authority, to force another person to yield information, to make a confession, or for any other reason.”

The need to discuss this topic separately

  1. The victim is usually either in detention or some form of custody.
  2. It is always important to ensure that the guardians are cleared of any suspicion of ill–treatment and also to discover any ill–treatment.
  3. The fatal event may be different from non–fatal abuse.
  4. Authorities in the state where it occurred may be totally unco–operative and hostile to an impartial inquiry.
  5. Long term post mortem changes are common – the body might have been buried and exhumed before examination.
  6. In such deaths there is often an immediate complaint or rumor of ill–treatment by relatives or the media.