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Q.1) Despite several attempts of eradication of manual scavenging by government, practice prevails. Discuss the various government measures to eradicate the manual scavenging in India and what are the reasons behind prevalence of manual scavenging despite several measures?(GS-1)

There are possibly over 12 lakh manual scavengers across India despite launching several acts and initiatives.

Acts against manual scavenging

Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993

  • This act banned employment of people as manual scavengers.
  • The act made employing a manual scavenger a cognisable offence with imprisonment and fine.
  • The 1993 Act made it the responsibility of citizens, organisations and the state to maintain sanitary toilets.
  • Act also prohibited the construction of dry toilets

Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013

  • It Prohibits the engagement or employment of anyone as a manual scavenger
  • Act made the states responsible for identifying and rehabilitating manual scavengers by providing them training, giving assistance, loans and even houses.
  • It further prohibits dry latrines and other forms of insanitary latrines.

Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan

Some of the features of mission that promotes prohibition on manual scavenging are:

  • Conversion of insanitary toilets to pour flush toilets,
  • Eradication of manual scavenging,
  • Spreading awareness among the citizens about sanitation and its linkages with public health.

Why does it still exist?

There are many reasons behind prevalence of manual scavenging, such as:-

  • Presence of insanitary latrines: Majority of this type of latrines require cleaning by hand.
  • Disinterest of state governments: Despite legal obligations, state governments are not keen to demolish or rebuild old facilities lacking sanitation.
  • State governments have not conducted a full census of both the latrines and the people engaged in clearing such waste.
  • Budget crunch: Central government has reduced fund allocation for rehabilitation of manual scavengers from 448 crore in the 2014-15 budget to Rs. 5 crore this year.
  • Social norms: Many communities still regard the inclusion of a sanitary toilet as ritual and physical pollution of the house.
  • Denial to change by manual scavengers: Some official data shows that manual scavengers are reluctant to leave their present occupation and take up the self-employment because of illiteracy and lack of confidence in running self-employment projects.
  • No administrative accountability: 2013 act does not outline administrative measures beyond conduct rules, that can be imposed if officials do not implement the Act.
  • Presence of informal ways: Contractors that are being provided with the sanitary projects are employing manual scavengers off the official record.

Q.2) The government is considering the recommendations of the Law Commission to ratify the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman. Why there is need for an anti torture law in India? (GS-2)

The Union government is seriously considering the 273rd Report of the Law Commission, which has recommended that India ratify the United Nations Convention against Torture and pass a law to prevent torture and punish its perpetrators.

Need for anti torture law in India:

  • Custodial violence continues to be prevalent in India.
  • The recent example of a bus conductor being forced to confess to murdering a schoolchild is a pointer to the use of torture as an investigative tool among policemen.
  • So far, neither the Indian Penal Code nor the Code of Criminal Procedure Code specifically or comprehensively addresses custodial torture.
  • Though India had signed the U.N. Convention Against Torture in 1997, it is yet to ratify it.
  • Efforts to bring a standalone law against torture had lapsed.
  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has been strongly urging the government to recognise torture as a separate crime and codify the punishment in a separate penal law.
  • The ratification by India will improve its image as a responsible & a liberal nation & will also improve cooperation in criminal matters.
  • It would be in the national interest .
  • It will help in protecting of human rights.

Other issues involved :

  • Misuse: There have been multiple cases of custodial tortures, deaths enforced disappearances, intimidation of opponents and activists. The problem of torture is also faced by bonded labourers, trafficked women and
  • Mental illness: In several cases torture has led to mental illness among captives where state should be held responsible for their condition.
  • Ethics of torture: There arises a complex question of ethics of human right of an individual versus the security where its not easy to take a completely black or white position.

Conclusion:

The government must legislate on this matter and ratify the convention as soon as possible.

Q.3)  India is yet to sign the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.  Discuss the significance of the Convention and Why India should sign it? (GS-2)

India is yet to sign the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction:

  • The Convention came into force in 1983.
  • Over 90 countries are signatories to it, India is yet to sign it

Significance:

  • As per the convention, if a child is removed from his or her place of habitual residence, then they must be returned.
  • It is a multilateral treaty on custodial issues of children.
  • The Convention seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of abduction and retention across international boundaries by providing a procedure to ensure their prompt return.
  • The convention is intended to enhance the international recognition of rights of custody and access arising in place of habitual residence, and to ensure prompt return of the child who is wrongfully removed or retained from the place of habitual residence.
  • It seeks to return children abducted or retained overseas by a parent to their country of habitual residence for the courts of that country to decide on matters of residence and contact.
  • The convention shall apply to any child, up to the age of 16 years who is a habitual resident of any of the contacting states.

Why India should sign this convention?

  • India’s accession to the Hague Convention would resolve the issue since it is based on the principle of reverting the situation to status quo ante.
  • It is based on the principle that the removed child ought to be promptly returned to his or her country of habitual residence to enable a court of that country to examine the merits of the custody dispute and thereupon award care and control in the child’s best interest.
  • This is because the courts of the country where the child had permanent or habitual residence are considered to best determine the child’s interest
  • There is no codified family law or specific child custody laws under which children can be returned to their homes in a foreign jurisdiction.
  • An aggrieved parent with a foreign court order requiring return of the child finds no slot in the Indian legal system, wherein a wholesome statutory remedy can be invoked for effective relief.
  • The Indian legal system provides succour by invoking the habeas corpus writ.
  • Bitter disputed custody battles requiring conventional evidence to be established fall under the outdated Guardians and Wards Act, 1890.

Conclusion:

The problem of child abduction is real, and India, with its diaspora spread over the globe, needs to work on the issues addressed by the Hague convention while ensuring that the remedy is compatible with the convention on the Rights of the Child. The aspects of ensuring the safety and well-being of the child through state intervention is of significance.

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