This article is written by Gitika Jain, from Amity University, Kolkata. This is an exhaustive article which deals with factors that affect the fight for human rights.
The debate on human rights has been one of the most important aspects of governance in almost every country. There are different types of rights that vary from context to context but the rights which have a fundamental aspect related to it are universal and inalienable. The frameworks of human rights are an important element of statutory provisions. Like many other democratic countries in India, human rights debate form an important part of the governments. However, without proper mechanisms human rights become futile. There are institutional mechanisms intended to bring human rights in India along with the constitution and legislative corpus of human rights. Suspension of the internet services in the valley of Kashmir with the revocation of Article 370, more than 100 custodial deaths amid the Corona crisis and still counting, suppressing the voice of honest journalism either by killings or by life-threats, prohibition of couples sitting together in the name of moral policing, unorganized and unplanned locking down of the states and the country with a prior notice of meagre 4 hours and a lot more, all these are excellent instances of deprivations of fundamental rights that our country has witnessed. The true enhancement and upliftment of the society is only possible when the ones can do, and the ones who should ask, can freely ask. The day criticisms will be taken as suggestions and appraisals will be taken as flatteries, that day will be the onset of Ram-Rajya once again.
Protection of human rights in India: issues
The debate on the human rights and protection of it are defined clearly in the governance of India which is based on the rule of law and constitutional supremacy. The framework of human rights provided for the citizens of India is the Indian Constitution and the statutory framework that is realizable through the courts of law. The understanding of human rights in India can be derived from the fundamental rights provided in the Indian Constitution. The fundamental rights are provided in the Indian Constitution along with the remedial mechanism through the High Courts and the Supreme Court of India. The fundamental rights are however provided in Part-3 of the Constitution of India. These rights are political and civil in nature. These rights are taken negatively because of the language they contain that is to prohibit the state from restricting the liberty of an individual. The rights that are of economic and social nature are excluded from these rights and are included in the Directive Principle of State Policies which are interpreted positively. It is not necessary that all fundamental rights apply to all citizens only. Some apply to only citizens and some apply to non-citizens also. Articles- 14, 20, 21, 22, and 25 to 28 are applicable to both citizens and non-citizens. The Articles that are applicable only to the citizens are Articles 15, 16, 19, and 29. India is also a home to many international human rights treaties. Out of nine human rights treaties, India is a party to six because of which it has made reservations and declarations to these treaties. India tried to bring international law at a domestic level because Indian citizens cannot directly approach international human rights treaties. The most important framework of human rights that is available to Indian citizens is the Constitution of India, therefore, the part of it deals with the rights of the citizen and part III of the Indian Constitution known as fundamental rights. These fundamental rights are justiciable in the court of law and it constitutes the right framework for the citizens of India. These fundamental rights are applicable and available to all citizens of India without any discrimination and in case where there is violation of any of the rights, the remedy of the same have been provided in different clauses. Though these are comprehensive mechanism tools that exist for protecting human rights but there still prevails some violations in everyday reality in India. The factors due to which these violations are caused can be economical, social and political. The problem of exploitation of natural resources, exploitation of backward sections of the society especially scheduled caste and scheduled tribes, issues especially in association with matters of unequal distribution of income, and the inhuman caste system are some of the examples of such violations. Combination of economic, social and political factors are causing deprivation of human rights.
Protection of human rights in India: factors
India being a developing country, a major portion of its population is poor and marginalized. There are innumerable reasons for poverty like concentration of wealth and landholdings, continuing policies of government, historical reasons like feudalism and colonialism, etc. The globalisation, and liberalisation of an economy increases the gap between rich and the poor. The poor are becoming poorer and the rich are becoming richer because of States’ withdrawal from welfare measures like health and education. The weaker sections of society are also subjected to everyday violence in the form of discrimination, illiteracy and hunger. There are recent legislations of Indian states which depicts the acceptance of the reality prevailing in today’s society. Some of them are the National Food Security Act 2013 and National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005. The former provides for food and national security to the weaker sections of the society and the latter provides for enhancement of livelihood security of the households in the rural areas. The aim behind passing such legislative measures are to provide a hand of support to the poor and the marginalized.
The main social factor that prevails in the Indian society is the caste system. This system emerged from the Varna system derived from Hinduism and is very much linked to Hindu religion. The worst case scenario in the caste system is that of untouchables where the upper caste people maintain a distance from the lower caste. The Constitution of India provides for protection against discrimination in Article 15 which guarantees right to equality and prohibits any discrimination on the basis of race, caste, place of birth, sex, etc. Such is the gravity of this problem that this is given as the status of fundamental rights in the Indian Constitution. The Articles in the Indian Constitution also provide for reservation of backward class of citizens in the areas of education and employment which are dealt in Article 15(4) and Article 16(4), Article 17 also provides for the abolishment of any sort of untouchability. Various constitutional provisions have also been provided to safeguard the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and there are also certain acts to do the same such as Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act, 1989, The Bonded Labour System (Abolishment) Act, 1976, The Child Labour Act, 1986, The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines Prohibition Act, 1993.
India is considered to be a quasi federal State. There has always been a demand for autonomy within the Indian State for political, economic and historical reasons.
Other reasons affecting human rights are:
Level of education
This factor plays an important role in affecting human rights because when the level of education in a country is low many people may not be aware of their rights. Generally, in a developing country the level of education is low which says about the country that the political awareness of that country is also low and people are being exploited politically. An example can be taken of exploitation in Malaysia and right to education in Pakistan where in some parts there is still a thinking that education is just for men and not women. While many countries have considered education as a basic human right directly or indirectly but still there are people with Islamic background who don’t believe in this.
Whenever a scenario occurs that the national security of any country is at stake, it is the human rights that are compromised. The case is the same in the United Kingdom as it is in India.
Encounter killings and right to life
The various factors affecting humans that are economic, social and political have led to social unrest and political mobilisation. This seems as a challenge to normal governance if this takes place in an organised manner. In India there were several political mobilisation in the form of armed assertions. In places like Kashmir and North-Eastern states of India this has been witnessed in huge amounts because these places tend to have nationality movements. Police and other security forces are called for help in these situations. But it has also been alleged that various police and security forces also indulge in violation of human rights. Right to life (Article 21) is guaranteed under Indian Constitution as a fundamental right. There are statutory provisions that help to safeguard these rights. One of the most important threats to the right to life is encounter killings. These are those killings in which the lives of individuals are lost by police and security forces when they try to maintain law and order and resort to use of forces. Whenever there is use of armed violation by certain political groups with the intention of committing crime these incidents of loss of life occur. Most of the arguments in this type of deaths are that the civil society and human rights groups believe that the use of force in such circumstances was inappropriate and were not investigated properly. Encounter killings, the force used by the security forces and police, leads to the death of alleged, to protect themselves from the other party. The issues involved in these types of deaths are of both procedural and substantive nature.
You can choose the shape and face of your life. You have all the rights for it. A beggar can choose to beg, a child has a right to say no to child labour, a woman can say no to forced sexual service. What is more alarming than the snatching away of these fundamental rights is the person behind this offense itself. He is none but the guardian of law and order. It’s unsurprising to know that the ones who we trusted and relied upon for our safety and service are taking undue advantage of their power and position to get their pockets fatter and their ranks just a level higher. The termites of corruption can now be seen on every wall of politics and civil service. What kind of development can be expected in a society where police are feared by common people? It’s hard to delineate the distinction between ‘morality’ and ‘brutality’ in some cases. People have the right to information but either the right or the information is sure to be missing. People have freedom of expression, provided they utter nothing that makes the government uncomfortable. For good governance around the world, human rights play an important role. The international human rights framework has steadily been growing and the adoption of international human rights treaties at domestic level will enhance the growth at domestic level as well. Since Human rights treaties cannot be directly enforced in India due to its international nature, India being a core human rights treaty member brings all those laws and implements in India. Therefore the rights in Indian Constitution are the human rights that are similar with what international treaties have. The jurisdiction of these fundamental rights are with the Supreme Court and High Courts in India. Despite the strict regulatory framework for human rights, the violation of human rights is still an everyday reality in India. Thus, it has become important to strictly adhere to the laws related to human rights and follow them rigorously.
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