Go by the book
The police headquarters, while responding to a Supreme Court order, has admitted to torturing junior officers in the guise of taking departmental action. This treatment conflicts with the government’s obligations under the Convention Against Torture, as well as violates the Constitution. In a written explanation to the apex court, the police headquarters, by referring to the provision of Clause 9 (4) of the Police Act 2012 BS, said that it has the right to take departmental action against junior officers by resorting to ‘minor physical torture’ to maintain discipline. A month ago, an advocate had filed a writ petition seeking the court order to nullify the Act’s provision. Forms of torture against junior officers include making them carry heavy loads and submerging them in water for long periods.
The higher-ups have the authority to take disciplinary action, so vital to the proper functioning of the police force. But torture is unacceptable, whether of the minor or extreme kind. There are many ways in which proper punishment could be meted out to the guilty. Torture is inhuman and abominable in any civilised society. Not only in the security forces, but everywhere else should it be shunned.
In civilised societies, it is illegal to take physical action against anyone, leave alone torturing them. Even the parents do not have the right to slap their own children as it violates their human rights. Torture — like bribery and poison — is harmful. It causes physical and mental harm to its victims. But torture is widely reported to have been a handy tool of the security forces in Nepal. If junior officers can be tortured, what may happen to the members of the public in police custody is anybody’s guess. There is an urgent need to sensitise the police force and other security agencies to the need to respect the human rights of every citizen, however low he or she may be in society. The rule of law must be supreme. And the guilty must be brought to justice, and in criminal cases, mere departmental action is not enough.