By Anurag Kundu  (With inputs from Robin Keshaw)

In an interview to British journalist Tim Sebastian, Indian Member of Parliament Dr. Shashi Tharoor in a response to Tim’s question claimed that Indian Parliament had ratified  United Nations Convention Against Torture [Video: 23:21 to 24:13] in the year 2010.

Fact-Check Report: False. Only Lok Sabha had passed it not Rajya Sabha. In 2014, with general election and dissolution of Lok Sabha, the bill had lapsed. It means that Indian Parliament is yet to ratify the convention.

Explanation: Three steps are required before the process of ratification can be termed complete: Both Houses of Parliament need to pass the bill, President granting the assent and gazette notification issued.

Only Lok Sabha passed the bill but Rajya Sabha didn’t. In May 2014, the Lok Sabha was dissolved leading to general election and the bill lapsed. Since then, no effort has been undertaken by NDA government in this regard. Therefore, Dr. Tharoor’s claim that India has ratified the UN Convention Against Torture is false and misleading.

UN Convention Against Torture aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment to anyone under arrest. The convention has following main provisions:

  1. That all acts of torture are considered criminal offence.
  2. Government must promptly investigate any allegation of torture.
  3. Victims of torture or their dependents in case victims died as a result of torture, must have an enforceable right to compensation
  4. Government must also ban the use of evidence produced by torture in their courts.
  5. Country also must keep interrogation rules, instructions, methods, and practices under systematic review regarding individuals who are under custody or physical control in any territory under their jurisdiction, in order to prevent all acts of torture

In a country where the torture under police custody is quite common, it is important Indian Parliament ratifies the convention and enacts the law that prevents any form of torture.

Indian Supreme Court in Prithipal Singh etc. Vs. State of Punjab case came down heavily about police brutality and recommend that the government “must ensure prohibition of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment to any person, particularly at the hands of any State agency/police force.”

However, 19 years since India signed the convention, Indian Parliament is yet to ratify it.

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