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[op-ed snap] Stand up against torture

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Mains Paper 2: Governance | Citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The convention is related to Human Rights and it is a hot topic of discussion these days.


Background of the Convention Against Torture (CAT)

  1. CAT came into force in 1987 and India signed it in 1997
  2. Today, the CAT has 162 state parties; 83 are signatories
  3. In refusing to ratify the CAT, India is in the inglorious company of Angola, the Bahamas, Brunei, Gambia, Haiti, Palau, and Sudan

Delaying the ratification

  1. In 2011, desiring to be appointed on the HRC of the UN, India took the extraordinary step of voluntarily “pledging” to ratify the CAT
  2. In the 2012 review, once again countries overwhelmingly recommended that India “promptly” ratify the CAT
  3. Again this year, at the universal periodical review, India reiterated “its commitment to ratify the CAT”
  4. India has been making promises but doesn’t seem intent on keeping them

SC’s comment on alleged torture by the Police

  1. Torture cases have escalated in India
  2. The Supreme Court said it was “deeply disturbed by the diabolical recurrence of police torture”
  3. Also, it said that said that “torture is assuming alarming proportions… on account of the devilish devices adopted”

The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010

  1.  It was an excellent attempt by Parliament to draft new legislation
  2. Unlike Indian law, which focusses on murder and broken bones (grievous hurt), torture was expanded to include
    (i) food deprivation,
    (ii) forcible feeding,
    (iii) sleep deprivation,
    (iv) sound bombardment,
    (v) electric shocks,
    (vi) cigarette burning, and other forms
  3. The Indian police force uses these techniques
  4. The Select Committee noted that an overwhelming number of States and Union Territories were in favour of the Bill
  5. But Bill was allowed to lapse

PIL on the issue

  1. A petition was then filed in the Supreme Court in 2016, seeking a direction to the Union government to ratify the CAT
  2. Despite its numerous promises to the UN bodies, the government opposed the petition saying that the Law Commission of India was considering the issue

Undermining India’s Prestige

  1. In showing the world that India has no intention of combating the issues related to its own forces
  2. And of implementing its promises made to the UN, the government has undermined India’s prestige
  3. To be a world power, India must act like one

:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.

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