PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION
Updated: Jun 30
Author: Mehendi Mazumdar, Assistant Professor (Law) from University of Engineering and Management, Kolkata.
Human rights are considered to be inalienable, inherent and fundamental for carrying out their day to day life activities with dignity. Human rights or the fundamental rights are entitled to the individuals to enjoy certain things irrespective of their religion, race, sex, color and caste. Hence human rights have taken a special place at the global levels in terms of its significance. Based on the importance of human rights among the individuals Indian government have also recognition to various human rights in Part III and IV of the Indian constitution. Even the Indian government has formulated the protection of human rights act of 1993 for promoting and safeguarding human rights in India with the help of the statutory body National human rights commission.
Safeguarding the dignity of individuals is necessary for maintaining harmony within the communities and societies because its violation could have a severe effect on the individuals. Every individual is entitled to certain rights that are inherent for the existence of human beings and conducting living errands. Those rights must not be violated in context to race, gender, ethnicity, caste and religion. Therefore, human rights are described as fundamental and basic rights or inherent rights.
The concept of human right has gone through several phases of development and has taken a long time for becoming the notion of the current day. However, protecting human rights is considered to be a necessity for the growth and development of the personality of the individuals that would contribute to the development of the nation. Moreover, the idea of human rights is vibrant in nature and must adapt to the requirements of individuals as well as the nation. This article thus critically evaluates the protection of human rights in the Indian constitution.
HUMAN RIGHTS IN INDIA
India is considered to be the largest democracy across the world, and being such a big self-governing country, the most important goal is to protect the necessary rights of individuals. It has been observed that the Indian government has provided with the consideration for recognizing and protecting human rights. The Indian constitution has recognized the basic rights of individuals and thereby showed deep concern regarding it.
The announcement of human rights comprises political, civil, cultural, economic and social rights. So, the Indian constitution guarantees that most of the human rights are included in the worldwide assertion of human rights. It is part III of the Indian constitution that comprises political and civil rights, but the social, cultural and economic rights have been mentioned in part IV . Moreover, the objective, as well as the philosophy of the Indian constitution, is enshrined into the Preamble that comprised of protecting the dignity of individuals in an efficient manner.
In order to meet the objectives of part III and IV, the Indian constitution guarantees the individuals about their Fundamental Rights that are a necessity for the development of personality, as it consists of the right to freedom, equality, freedom of culture, religion, educational rights, constitutional remedies and also the rights against exploitation. Hence it is the duty of both state and central government in providing adequate conditions to every individual in enjoying the human rights. Through the ruling ideology of the Directive Principles Of State Policy that is mentioned in Part IV of the Indian constitution, it ascertains the duty to the government to make effort for protecting individual’s rights and welfare.
PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS ACT, 1993
The requirement for protecting the human rights issue at the International and National level has led to the ratification of an act that particularly deals with protecting human rights and it is referred to as Human Rights Act 1993. The main purpose of this act is to offer an effective organizational construction for upholding the rights of individuals. This act also gives commission both at the state and national level and further in each state for setting up of Human Rights Court at the district level. This Act defines ‘human rights’ in the section 2(d) as ‘the rights related to liberty, life, dignity and equality of the individuals which is guaranteed by the constitutions or the embodied in International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India’. So the rights that are guaranteed in the Indian constitution are the conventionality in the global conventions.
NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
The most important responsibility of the state is not only in safeguarding the human rights of individuals from all types of violations but also in preventing the occurrence of violations by giving requisite means for realization and ensuring human development. At the National level the National Human Rights Commission has been formed under the Protection of the Human Rights Act of 1993 to meet the responsibilities. It is section 3 of the Act, which offers a composition of the National human rights commission . The main purpose of the national human rights commission that is included under section 12 is about comprehending and promoting various researches in the matter of human rights.
Therefore, reviewing of factors that consist of terrorism acts which inhibits the laws of human rights and other remedial measures. Conducting inquiries about the violation cases of human rights suo motu on the petition presented by the direction of the court . Individuals can visit jails under state government control, where the individuals are detained for the purpose of protection, treatment or deformation for studying the conditions of inmates and making recommendations to the government.
The National Human Rights Commission gives permission in conducting a systematic review of the human rights policy of the government for detecting shortcomings in human rights and suggesting ways of improvement. Besides, it is also spreading the human rights literacy between sections of the societies and promoting awareness regarding how to safeguard the rights through effective publications, seminars, media and other ways. It is the National Human Rights Commission that performs vital roles in making recommendations as well as guidelines for several authorities. National Human Rights Commission provides recommendations on several matters like education, health, public relations, jail reforms, police encounters, violence against women, child labour and many other things. It has been found that in several instances where violation of human rights takes place National Human Rights Commission took suo motu cognizance on the complaints filed prior to it.
STATE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
The authority to deal commissions at the state level is given by the state government under the section 21 (1) of the Act. The State Commission also performs a similar job that has been earlier entrusted in the National Human Rights Commission. The function that State Commission would perform is to make inquiries into the violation of human rights in context to the matter that are associated to the entry enumerated in both List III and II in the 7th agenda of the constitution . Therefore, the revise of International instruments and Treaties on human rights has been cut off from the view of the commission of State Human Rights. For redressing the grievances in the Union territories, the position has been taken by the ministry of human affairs.
HUMAN RIGHTS COURT
The state government have set up the Human Rights Courts in accordance with the Chief Justices of the High Courts by notifying particularly for every constituency there would be a court session for the Human Rights Court in the section 30 . It is the State Government that mainly appoints special public prosecutors in conducting the cases in the Human Rights Court under section 31 of the Act . The Human Rights Courts are located in the state of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim and Tamil Nadu.
The National and State Human Rights Commission stay in contact with the apprehensive High Courts for making apparent judgements of the particular character of offence that are carried out in these courts and also other details about business conduction. An inquiry has been conducted by the National Human Rights Commission, where it has been found that thousands of complaints have been submitted with information to the government on several cases that make various recommendation regarding steps that should be taken in order to restrain the violations of human rights. In the year 2016, there are around 7822 complaints received that comprised of both old and fresh complaints.
NGOs ROLE IN THE CONTEXT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
There are non-governmental entities that have also played a vital role in human rights protection. It has been found that NGOs are playing a significant role in society as NGOs mainly picked up the deficits of government in context to services they are giving, thereby helping in safeguarding the rights of the individuals in a great way. NGOs are mainly non-profit making organizations that range from International organizations to smaller groups having their chains across worldwide. These organizations are independent organizations of the state and are mainly handled by a group of private people . These individuals draw strength from those individuals who use to offer voluntary support to the cause. These organizations raise awareness among the individuals regarding their rights through proper education in order to uplift them.
The NGOs play major roles in monitoring, planning and evaluating human rights protection. It has been observed that government or other agencies often turns out to be the violators of the rights which are committed to safeguarding and promoting the huge sections of individuals who are ill-formed and illiterate, and that makes it easier for the violators of rights to act impunity. In this situation, it is NGOs that play vital roles in this process . The government has also recognized the role that is played by NGOs in several fields like protection of the environment, education, health and protection of rights to different individuals. There are NGOs who are working effortlessly in protecting women’s rights, child labour and democratic rights and bringing out all these instances in front of the Supreme Court of India. Even the National Human Rights Commission has taken actions on various complaints that are made by NGOs .
NGOs play effective functions in enforcing the governmental policies and the unique role that is played by NGOs in providing recognition to the defence of the human rights act of 1993. In fact, the protection of human rights under section 12 has expressed given the commission in encouraging the efforts of the NGOs to work in the matter of human rights. Furthermore, in every state to visit, the National Human Rights Commission has made a clear point to get advantage from the knowledge as well as experience from NGOs who possess deep contacts, and this provides strength for carrying out human rights movements to the places that matter the most.
THE ROLE PLAYED BY INDIAN CONSTITUTION IN PROTECTING HUMAN RIGHTS
Indian constitution provides protection to human rights for proper implementation of human rights in the country. It is the Indian government that has enacted the safeguard of Human Rights Act in 1993 for the development of the State Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Courts and National Human Rights Commission at the district level. Even the Indian judiciary is also making an effective effort in safeguarding the human rights of Indian individuals for providing a speedy remedy to the victims of the human rights that are violated . With the inception of protecting Human Rights Act in 1993,the National Human Rights Commission has undertaken various measures in the areas of promoting and safeguarding human rights.
The NHRC is constantly organizing seminars, workshops and campaigns in making individuals aware of human rights, particularly in the rural and slum areas . Other than this, NHRC is also taking actions in carrying out various research studies and projects in a positive way.
There are various topics on which NHRC is carrying out projects and studies and that are of varied nature like protecting child labour, juvenile justice care and protection and feminization of poverty. Apart from this, the State and National Commission both are spending huge expenditure regarding the publications on the materials of human rights for making the individuals aware of the rights. Besides, the commissions are also taken care of in organizing internship programmes for the students of universities and colleges from distinct parts of the country. Moreover, International cooperation in the areas or regions of protecting human rights is also encouraged by the state and national human rights commission.
Various discussion, annual meetings and conferences with the foreign delegates are normally conducted by commissions. Commissions are also interacting with the representatives of several countries regarding the issues of environmental pollution, terrorism, trafficking of children’s and women’s and communicable diseases
In India, there are many women’s and children’s who became regular victim of human trafficking. The children’s and women’s are mainly trafficked for non-sexual and sexual basis such as for drug peddling, prostitution, sexual exploitation, bonded labour, pornography and illegal means of body parts transplantation. It is the national human rights commission that takes action in these cases like suo motu actions and directing governments in rehabilitating them for preventing the possibility of occurrence of such acts.
NHRC also fined the earrings and punished the polices as well as jail authorities who are found guilty and involved in humiliating as well as degrading the prisoners who are under trial. Not only are the custodial organizations there are various other organizations that have been found in violating human rights. Various state agencies are also involved in this process, and in such cases, it is the NHRC that takes actions against the public officials. It has been found that NHRC also took strict measures in protecting the human rights of HIV/AIDS victims or disabled individuals .
NHRC also paid huge heed in protecting human rights in rights of women’s to health, sex tourism and rights to a foetus. Even the women’s who are the acid attack victims are entitled to human rights. NHRC has also shown concern for the acid attack victims and issued strict directions to the governments to perform needful procedures in marginalizing and rehabilitation the victims in a better way.
The worst victims of socio-economic exploitation are the scheduled tribes and castes, and they face various violations such as the right to human dignity, livelihood, personal liberty, right to live, occupation, property and many things . It is the NHRC that gives directions and orders to governments to resettle and rehabilitate the tribes and minors in the case of natural and manmade conflicts or disasters.
Although the Indian constitution has enacted several rights, there are individuals who are not aware of the human rights that are guaranteed by the constitution because of the vulnerable struggle and circumstances of their day to day life. There are various duties that have been enshrined by the Indian constitution in the state under Part IV that are the ruling main beliefs of the state policy. It is for enacting the laws in order to work for the well-being of individuals. There are many places in India where the directives are not even enforceable in the courts, and the individuals would not be able to approach until government enforce the directive principles.
The commission is completely dependent on the government for human redirects and its functions according to section 11 of the Act. It is section 32 of the Act that makes the commission depending on the central government for finances .
Human rights are considered as basic rights of human beings, and it is the Indian constitution that safeguards the human rights of individuals; and the provision of this is enacted in both the Preamble and articles of the Indian constitution that mentioned the fundamental freedom as well as protection of the individual’s dignity.
Moreover, the Indian Judiciary has also tranquil the rules of locus standi for safeguarding the human rights that paved the approach for the establishment of the notion of public interest litigations. Hence by means of public interest litigation, there are several incidents of human rights violation that have been put in front of the court . It is the Judiciary that is playing a key role in protecting the human rights of the individuals so that every individual would be able to live their life with dignity. Safeguarding human rights are considered to be a vital issue, and throughout the world, several organizations and institutions are safeguarding human rights on the base of the provisions that have been created by the defence of Human Rights Act of 1993.
The formation of the Human Rights Commission is playing a major task in safeguarding the human rights of individuals; along with that, NHRC is also providing monetary relief to the human rights victims as well as to their families.
It is to be concluded that this article evaluated the ways how Indian constitution is protecting human rights. It shows that the National Human Rights Commission is performing a good job in promoting and safeguarding human rights in an effective manner. NHRC is taking stricter actions such as suo motu cognizance in the case of violations of human rights and thereby issuing directions to the states as well as with the help of different agencies in safeguarding the human rights violations. Moreover, the human rights complaints are frequently entraining from various parts of the country, and it is NHRC who is aiming in imposing fines and penalties to those institutions and agencies who are violating human rights. With its more than two decades of establishment, NHRC is performing an efficient role towards defending and protecting human rights. NHRC is keeping on pushing forward by making the individuals aware of human rights by conducting seminars, workshops and conferences. However, the daily expenditure made on expanding the infrastructure and libraries at the commission office clearly illustrates that commissions are serious in dealing as well as handling the complaints of human rights.
Despite efforts that are made by the National Human Rights Commission in safeguarding human rights as per the Indian constitution, there are few hurdles that are dealt with by human rights as a part of the commission. The impediments that the commission is having is that it is considered to be the single recommendary body and possess no power in punishing those individuals who failed to maintain orders and follow them. Besides, the commission also possess no powers in ensuring and enforcing the compliance of orders and also lacking financial stability. Therefore, it is recommended that in context to financial and personal matters, NHRC must be the independent body for the appropriate working of the committee.
Section 30 and section 21 (1) of the Protection of Human Rights Act of 1993 must be amended in order to make it mandatory for the State gGovernment for constituting the Human Rights Commission at the State Level and Human Rights Courts at the district level. Apart from this, section 36 (1) must be amended for empowering the NHRC in investing and taking up any matter that is pending prior to the Human Rights Commission of state for taking speedy actions.
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