Human Rights in India

Introduction: Human rights refer to the basic rights that are believed to be entitled to every human-being. Every human-being are entitled to certain rights and freedom irrespective of their origin, ethnicity, race, colour, nationality, citizenship, sex or religion. These rights are considered universal for humanity.

Concept of Human rights: The term ‘Human Rights’ is a dynamic concept. These rights may be called the basic rights, the fundamental rights, the natural rights or the inherent rights. The principal objective of both Indian and international laws is to protect the human personality and its fundamental rights.

Human Rights is aimed at preserving the dignity of the people. Although human rights are necessary for sustaining human life and promoting development of man yet the internal political structure, levels of social technological and economic development, the resource-base and the religio-cultural background of the countries, do have a profound bearing on the policies and priorities of various countries towards human rights.

Human Rights are the rights, which every individual must have against the state of other public authority by virtue of being a member of the human family irrespective of any other consideration. These are rights which are inherent in all citizens, because of their being human.

These are the rights which are inalienable because the enlightened conscience of the community would not permit the surrender of those rights by any citizen even of his own violation. These are the rights which are inviolable because they are not only vital for the development and efflorescence of human personality and for ensuring its dignity but also because without them men would be reduced to the level of animals.

The United Nations Charter speaks of human rights in its preamble and in six other articles.

Human Rights in India: Human rights in India require the existence and protection of a well-regulated society. Only the society and the state can guarantee these human rights to the individual. But to enjoy these rights perfectly the citizens of India too must observe the social norms properly.

However, in India under “the Protection of Human Rights 1993 (No. 10 of 1994)”, the Human Rights have been defined in the following way:

2 (1) d) “Human rights” means the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.”

India has also enacted the protection of Human Rights Act in 1993 and also constituted the National Human Rights Commission, the State Human Rights Commission in different States and Human Right Courts.

In spite of these apparently fixed positions, some shifts are also visible in each perspective of human rights. Violation of human rights in India is now seen as violations of the democratic principles enshrined in the Indian Constitution as well as violation of India’s international commitment of humanitarian international law and international covenants.

The analysis of the human rights should be made from three perspectives:

  • The Socio-Economic dimension of Human Rights in India,
  • The legal dimension of Human Rights in India and
  • The role of international organizations and NGOs in promotion of human rights.

Steps taken to Protect Human Rights in India: In India, all citizens are entitled to enjoy the privilege of human rights. Several initiatives have been undertaken in India for the greater protection of the women, children and certain other groups of the society such as:

  1. Sati Practice has been prohibited in India.
  2. The minimum age for marriage has been fixed by law. A boy below the age of 21 and a girl below the age of 18 cannot marry.
  3. The Protection of Human Rights Act, was enacted in 1993.
  4. Right to Information act was passed in 2005.
  5. Child Labor (below the age of 14) is prohibited in factories, and mines.
  6. Right to education has been accepted as a fundamental right in India. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act  was passed in 2009.
  7. Dowry System has been prohibited by law. The Dowry Prohibition Act was passed in 1961. 
  8. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act was passed in 2005 to protect women from domestic atrocities

Sociological perspective: From a sociological perspective and perfect realization of human rights the whole society should accept the basic norms of human rights. Human rights have three basic premises:

  1. The individual remains the primary subject of international human rights law,
  2. This international human rights law accepts the existence of the groups and
  3. Individual human rights can be fully enjoyed if certain other human rights are fully or partially developed.

Human rights and humanitarian laws: There is a distinction between human rights and humanitarian laws. The Humanitarian laws are those rules of international law which aim to protect people suffering due to the armed international conflicts and directly serving military purposes.

Conclusion: There is always a hierarchy in the subjects of human rights law. No human rights can be detracted from the individual’s human rights, and human rights laws recognize certain rights of the groups. Moreover, the diversity of the cultures and civilization, beliefs and traditions, history and aspirations re­flected in polico-legal system, give rise to ever changing meaning to ‘human rights’.

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