Can’t force govt. to frame a law: SC


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: The UN convention against Torture

Mains level: Comments by the SC on political compulsions


Comment on Political Compulsions

  1. The Supreme Court has said it respected the government’s “political compulsions” and would not compel it to ratify the UN Convention against Torture
  2. Or command it to frame a standalone anti-torture legislation

What was the case?

  1. A public interest litigation petition was filed by the former Union Law Minister Ashwini Kumar for a standalone anti-torture law
  2. A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, refrained from passing any positive order on the PIL
  3. The court disposed of the petition almost a year after entertaining it

Recent comment from government on PILs

  1. The judiciary faced a barrage of criticism for its “judicial activism”
  2. Ministers said public interest litigation petitions could not replace governance and policy decisions of the executive

Government is considering anti-torture law

  1. The Law Commission has recommended that the Centre ratify the United Nations Convention against Torture and frame a standalone anti-torture law, making the state responsible for any injury inflicted by its agents on citizens
  2. The commission has said the state should not claim immunity for the actions of its officers or agents

Background of the UN Convention against Torture

  1. Though India signed the convention in 1997, it is yet to ratify it
  2. Efforts to bring in a standalone law have failed
  3. The National Human Rights Commission has been urging the government to recognise torture as a separate crime and codify the punishment in a separate penal law


United Nations Convention against Torture

  1. The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (commonly known as the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT)) is an international human rights treaty, under the review of the United Nations, that aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world
  2. The Convention requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture in any territory under their jurisdiction, and forbids states to transport people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured
  3. The text of the Convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1984 and, following ratification by the 20th state party, it came into force on 26 June 1987.
  4. 26 June is now recognized as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, in honor of the Convention. Since the convention’s entry into force, the absolute prohibition against torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment has become accepted as a principle of customary international law
  5. As of August 2017, the Convention has 162 state parties
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