Human Rights within India

Human rights are correlated with natural rights, which have existed from the very beginning of time and have evolved with the growth of organizational structure and reasonableness of the society. the concept of natural rights have existed in the very ancient scripture of which the origin is not known that clearly shows the respect our elder and ancestors who gave the idea of Natural Rights had towards other individuals.

Lord Shri Krishna while giving updesha to Arjuna during the Battle of Mahabharta dictates he who has no ill will to any being, who is friendly and compassionate, who is free from egoism and self sense and who is even minded in pain and pleasure and patient is dear to god. His clearly shows that the human should not only enforced their rights but also maintain the dignity of others by not violating to their rights and doing no harm to others treating each other with equal respect without making any discrimination among individuals. Even lord Rama during his exile of 14 years ate berries half eaten by low caste women Shabri as a symbol of love and dedication she showed towards his deity Rama. There are many incidents in our history which rightly indicate towards the absence of any kind of discrimination among the superior beings. However there are other incidents also showing the existence of discrimination based on caste in our history.

With the change of time and introduction of caste and Varna system at its peak people grew cruel and started discrimination among the individuals based on caste, Varna and gender, the Brahmins were considered superior of them all followed by Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudras. Among all Shudras were the most oppressed of them all. They were considered untouchables, and were forced to do menial jobs for the upper caste people. The women were forced to slavery and prostitution. They were not allowed to the places for higher caste people like ponds, temples, boycotted from public gathering, etc. The kings were the only source of justice and their rights.

In British India, there are many of incidents of violation of human rights, the British in order to maintain their supremacy humiliated and discriminated against the British.

There were no civil or political liberties for Indians. The laws that were made were best suited to the British rule and for the economical and administrative benefit of the British only the Indians were of no use to them other than limited to their slaves. They made laws violating all civil rights of the native Indians to gain as much profit as they can from their lands and labour. Harsh repressive measures were taken to repress any revolt against British for attainment of basic human rights of the workers and the labours. The natives were denied of any rights and were slaves to the hands of British rule in India and the Queen of England. So far as the British colonial period remains the Indian equivalent of Dark ages. People with no civil rights were faced to slavery and if revolted send to exile or even shot dead.

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This created an impression in the young Indian minds that their sacred human right were being violated denied and ignored upon the sake of benefit of British and the rulers who accepted their rule acting as n agent of the company. Mahatma Gandhi appealed and organized people under his leadership and launched Civil disobedience, non violence and other movements from time to time to achieve self-governance. Bal Gangadhar Tilak advocated that freedom is our birth right for which we have to fight.

Analysing the situation and growing revolt among the indigenous people British became aware of the fact that in this situation it better to mould with it rather than to resist it and as the consequence passed Charter Act 1813 to promote interest of the indigenous people but here again they neglected the benefits of native and mostly centred on their benefit and as the consequence the revolt only grew stronger and the British had to pass another Government of India Act 1833 providing few political rights to Indians. On November 1, 1858 Queen Victoria made proclamation that was similar to fundamental rights of the modern day Constitution of India in nature. The Constitution Bill drafted by the Indian National Congress in 1895 came to be known as Home Rule Document paved the way guaranteeing every individual their basic human rights. The government of India Act 1915 and 1935 paved way to the basic human rights and higher opportunities for Indians in the British rule, however, self-governance was denied by the colonial government.

Later after independence of India on 15 August, 1947, it remained to be governed under British made laws up until 26 January, 1950 when the Constitution of India came into action. Originally it contained 365 Articles and 8 Schedules and has one of the most elaborated set of fundamental rights and laws ever adopted by any country. The Preamble of the Constitution provides the framework of the Indian Constitution and pledges justice, economical, social and political, liberty of thoughts, expression, belief, faith and worship, equality of status and opportunities and fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation to aid its citizens.

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Fundamental Rights and Human Rights

The United Nations Organization adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and India was made signatory to that. The provisions of Indian Constitution ensuring basic human rights through fundamental rights are somewhat similar to the provisions of UDHR.

Fundamental rights differ from ordinary rights. However every right be it either fundamental or human rights however government can apply reasonable restriction over the rights so as to prevent encroachment of each other’s right and can make reasonable classification based on intelligible differentia. Human rights does not essentially mean giving everyone equal rights its about giving what is the need of the hour means that the requirement and needs of persons differ and giving same doesn’t really benefit them so giving what they need that’s called Equity and equality can wait.

These rights when violated the aggrieved party can approach the Supreme Court or the High Court for their enforcement against any government policy, public authority or private individual. The Constitution also prevent legislature of any state or Parliament form making any laws which is in derogation of the provisions of the Constitution and declare the enactment null and void under Article 13. The Doctrine of Judicial Review provide Supreme Court power to review laws enacted by parliament and if they are contrary to any provision of the Constitution they are declared ulta-vires. The Constitution of India provides that any individual can move to Supreme Court for the enforcement of their fundamental rights and issue writs under Article 32. The same power has been given to High Court under Article 226.

Human rights of women and girls

Form the very beginning of time, women and girls remained oppressed class of the society and faced gender inequality everywhere, at home, outside home or at workplace. They are not given same freedom and opportunities as that of men. Many governmental organizations and non governmental institutions worldwide focus on improving the status of women and girls.

According to International Labour Organization, approx 11.4 million women and girls are victims of forced labour, slavery, trafficking and forced prostitution. Women and girls faces gendr inequality even at their homes, they are not allowed to attend schools, forced to remain at home, pariah system, subjected to domestic violence, do not have proper access to healthcare and medical facilities. All these circumstances collectively prevent overall development of women and girls among family and society. They are suppressed and their desires and will remain repressed and are forced to follow orders from men neglecting their basic rights. Although the Constitution of India do not discriminate on the basis of gender and every provision applies to both gender without any discrimination but due to lack of enforcement and poor societal structure they do not have access to their basic rights and remain unaware of that.

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Slavery as violation of Human rights

It has been a practice to buy and sell human beings for slavery and other purposes often termed as human trafficking. It is certain that slavery is wrong and prohibited morally and legally both. No person should be forced into slavery against his will and deprived of his right to life and liberty as per the Constitution of India Article 21. Once a person becomes slave he loses his free will they have to be at the whims of their master without asking any remuneration for their services at the mercy of their owners which is clear mark that they have no rights and this is against the law and fundamental rights of the Constitution.

National Human Rights Comission

It was established on 12 October, 1993, under the statute of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 as amended by the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2006. It is in conformity with the Paris principles, adopted at the first International workshop on National Institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights which was held in Paris in 1991 and endorsed by general assembly on December 20, 1993. It constitutes of total 12 members with one as chairperson of the commission.

Supreme Court has recognised fundamental rights as Natural rights or Human rights. There are some events of violations of human rights based on gender, race, caste, colour, language but with the passage of time these disputes has been resolved with different enactment by different National and International Organizations and still changes are being introduced worldwide and there is no stoppage. The establishment of Human rights commission within each state and at centre has tackled the problem at larger scale and still working on to ensure free and fair justice and enforcement of rights of each and every individual from across the country. UDHR by the United Nations strive to maintain and ensure enforcement of Human rights across the globe.

Author: Anurag Gupta,
City Academy Law College, Tiwariganj,(University of Lucknow)

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