Mains Paper 2: Social Justice
Prelims level: NHRC
Mains level: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
• Dismemberment was a method of torture practised with vigour in ancient India, crushing-by-elephant-foot another.
• The Arthashastra prescribes mental torture through swear-words with or without physical assaults. Death by a thousand cuts was ancient China’s speciality.
• The Tang Code (652 CE) describes judicial torture in detail. Ancient Japanese methods of torture numb the human imagination.
• Their modern avatar in Japan’s World War II of biological and chemical experimentation on humans prisoners, mainly Chinese in Unit 731 stop the blood-flow to one’s heart.
Cautioned by history
• The practice of custodial power is about men and sometimes, women who are in positions of power, even if for a brief while and over a limited terrain, having custody over a powerless person.
• It is about the use of custodial opportunity to torture the captive’s body and mind.
• And there, in that arena of wantonness, it becomes something of a sport for the human “Gods” that rule mere humans.
• Custodial death, when not ‘natural’, is the extreme end-point of custodial torture. The death penalty, notwithstanding ‘due process’, is a close kin to this lawless and heartless game.
• India has practised and continues to practise the ‘third degree’ with impunity. Let only him deny it who has cause to hide it.
• But if torture is real, human revulsion with torture is also real. And it has shape, definition. It has scope.
The Indian case
• India took 13 years to sign the Convention, but sign it did, on October 14, 1997, during the 11-month-old Prime Ministership of I.K. Gujral.
• He did what Rajiv Gandhi, V.P. Singh, Chandra Shekhar, P.V. Narasimha Rao, H.D. Deve Gowda could not, did not, do. But signing is only the first step.
• Unless a convention is ratified and followed or preceded by domestic legislation that commits the ratifying party to compliance, the original signing carries no meaning. India has not ratified.
• India’s non-ratification of the Convention is both surprising and dismaying.
What is the constraint?
• A state which signs the Convention has to have a domestic law on the subject to outlaw and prevent custodial torture.
• Without such a law, there is no meaning to signing the Convention. And so, late as it was, the UPA II government introduced a Prevention of Torture Bill in the Lok Sabha in 2010 and had it passed in 10 days.
• The bill as passed by the Lok Sabha was referred to a select committee of the Rajya Sabha. The committee gave its report recommending the Bill’s adoption later the same year.
• Citing National Human Rights Commission figures of reported torture cases, the report said the figures showed custodial torture was rising.
• It also pointed out that the number of reported cases being only a fraction of actuals, the situation was serious.
Q.1) Consider the following statements about DigiYatra:
1. It is a Facial Recognition based passenger processing to be used in airports in India.
2. Passengers can get a Digi Yatra ID by sharing minimum details like Name, e-mail ID, Mobile number and details of one approved Identity proof.
3. A passenger who has created the Digi Yatra ID has to undergo a onetime verification at the departure airport during his/her first travel.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Q.1) What is the constraint? Why is the Indian state unwilling to say, ‘no custodial torture in India’?