Are Human Rights Violated In India? A Detailed Report

“Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.”

-14th Dalai Lama

Introduction

It was on 10th December 1948 when The United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an extensive document that forms the basis of Human Rights and which came into fruition post the atrocities of the Second World War.

Regardless of any exclusive rights and duties that are accorded by a country to its citizens based on different factors like culture, population, diversity, language, geography, etc., Human Rights are those ubiquitous rights that apply to every single human being existing on this planet, and therefore subsequently applies to Indians as well.

However, in the past few decades, India has been marked by various events where the human rights of the citizens were crushed. Despite the various international treaties, commitments, and constitutional provisions, persecution of people’s rights has been happening relentlessly.

From selective harassment towards the minority to the quashing of fundamental rights and suppression of human rights defenders, widespread polarization and systemized marginalization have overtaken the better part of the country. Let us look at it in depth.

What Are Human Rights? Background

Before we delve into the facts and figures concerning human rights infringement in India, let us first understand human rights and why we need them?

Human rights are the basic rights that all of us are embodied with, simply because of being born as humans. These are those rights that keep us protected from neglect, abuse of powers, conflicts, inequality, and various other grievances. Human rights are given to every person right from birth and are accorded despite their race, color, sex, or religion.

Article 1 of The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights [1] states that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

Human Rights is also known as Natural Rights, and these rights have their root in Medieval European Society. The formulation of the English Bill of Rights and Scottish Claim of Rights in 1689 was the first attempt at codifying human rights. However, the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights adoption was the first legitimized step that garnered global attention towards the importance and necessity of these rights.

Human Rights Violation In India: Should We Be Worried?

As we talk about how India is amidst a major human rights crisis, we can recall plenty of historical and current events, which is a testament to the prevalence of bloodshed and clashes in India for a long time.

Ethnic Cleansing And Religious Conflicts

The infamous mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir Valley in early 1990 is one of the most predominant and classic examples of ethnic cleansing that India went through. The Hindu residents of the Kashmir valley were deported out of the state following mass violence, sexual assault against women, torture, and more.

India is a country where more than 2000 different ethnic groups coexist together. As per the Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner [2], It constitutes a population of 80.5% Hindus, 13.4%,Muslims, 2.3% Christians, 1.9% Sikhs, 0.8% Buddhists, 0.4% Jains, 0.6% other religions, and 0.1% of unspecified religions. Yet, it remains a battleground for various ethnic and religion-based conflicts.

Arbitrary Arrest

The most recent example of arbitrary arrest in India includes the widespread detention and arrests that resulted from nationwide protests against the 2019 passed Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). Another example is the wrongful arrest of Muslim men in Uttar Pradesh on the pretext of indulging in interfaith marriages through the “love jihad” law, which the government had not approved at the time of the arrests.

During the course of arbitrary arrests, police personnel, through mistreatment and torture, obtain false confessions from the victim and try to demonize the voices by detaining them wrongfully.

Such arbitrary arrests are in direct violation of Article 21 and Article 22 of the Indian Constitution.[3]

Article 21 states that “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law,” and this lays the foundation for Article 22, which states that “No person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed, as soon as may be, of the grounds for such arrest nor shall he be denied the right to consult, and to be defended by, a legal practitioner of his choice.”

Extra-Judicial Killings

There have been various cases of extra-judicial killings emerging due to the implementation of the AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act), which grants special powers and legal immunity to the Armed Forces of India that are delegated to the perpetually disrupted parts of the nation. Many people have advocated against the law, and therefore the question of the relevance and importance of AFSPA has been raised during various occasions.

The 2002 Manipur Massacre [4] and the 2009 Shopian Rape and Murder case in which a pair of sisters-in-law were mysteriously killed under obscure circumstances outside the town of Shopian, are some examples that certify the misuse of AFSPA powers.

Extra-Judicial Killings are touted to shackle the principles of Rule of Law, the protection of which have been explicitly mentioned in Article 13 of the Constitution of India. In Fact, Section 46 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 lays out the detailed procedures of making an arrest and the degree of power that should be exercised against a person evading an arrest. [5]

Unfair Trials

Unfair trials are not a new phenomenon in India, and there have been several cases and judgments that were influenced by extrinsic pressure. Although Article 21 in the Indian Constitution guarantees the right to a fair trial, the courts of the country, in many cases, have gone beyond their powers and practiced broad, unfair discretion.

In the case of Moti Lal Saraf v. Union of India, 2007, the court observed and stated that the concept of fair trial flows directly from Article 21 of the Constitution of India. [6]

Any person who has been charged with a legal dispute or a crime has the right to a fair trial by an impartial judge or an impartial tribunal, which is also stated as a human right under Article 10 of the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights.

Harassment Of Women

Women are not immune to crimes and violence in any part of the world. Even with multiple laws and directives exclusively implemented for their safety, empowerment, and growth, they have been at the receiving end of harassment. The various crimes against women which are violative of their human rights include

  • Murder with Rape/Gang Rape (Sec. 375/376 IPC)
  • Dowry Deaths (Sec. 304B IPC)
  • Abetment to Suicide of Women (Sec. 305/306 IPC)
  • Miscarriage (Sec. 313 & 314 IPC)
  • Acid Attack (Sec. 326A IPC)
  • Attempt to Acid Attack (Sec. 326B IPC)
  • Cruelty by Husband or his relatives (Sec. 498 A IPC)
  • Kidnapping & Abduction (Sec. 336 IPC)
  • Kidnapping & Abduction in order to Murder (Sec. 364 IPC)
  • Kidnapping for Ransom (Sec. 364A IPC)
  • Kidnapping & Abduction of Women to compel her for marriage (Sec. 366 IPC)
  • Procuration of Minor Girls (Sec. 366A IPC)
  • Importation of Girls from Foreign Countries (Sec. 366B IPC)
  • Human Trafficking (Sec. 370 & 370A IPC)
  • Selling of Minor Girls (Sec. 372 IPC)
  • Buying of Minor Girls (Sec. 373 IPC)
  • Assault on Women with Intent to Outrage her Modesty (Sec. 354 IPC)
  • Insult to the Modesty of Women (Sec. 509 IPC)

Infringement Of Child Rights

Children are as protected by Human Rights as are adults. They have the right to be protected against harm and abuse, neglect, child marriage, mental and physical harassment, sexual offenses, trafficking, abuse, violence, torture, gender-based violence, and more.

As per Interpol data[7], India, in the bracket of 2017 to 2020, reported a whopping 27 lakh cases of online child sexual abuse. The NGO Cry’s analysis on NCRB data states that more than 350 crimes against children were reported on an everyday basis in 2021, in which child marriage saw an increment of 50%, and online abuse saw an increment of 400%. [8]

Education has been protected as a Human Right under Article 26 of The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights. The insertion of Article 21-A in the Constitution of India made it compulsory to provide free education to children in the age bracket of six to fourteen years. Despite all this, children are still devoid of their rights and are either married off young or are involved in labor-intensive tasks.

Lack Of Human Rights Awareness | How To Eradicate Violation Of Human Rights?

India is a signatory to various conventions and treaties concerning human rights; unfortunately, the benefits of this do not reach the masses. Some credible international agreements include the following:

  • Universal Declaration Of Human Rights.
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – Ratified by India on 10th April 1979.
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – Ratified by India on 10th April 1979.
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – Ratified by India on 11th December 1972.
  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women(CEDAW) – Ratified by India on 9th July 1993.

Despite ratifying such vital tools that help to bind all the states for a single motive of protecting and preserving the human rights of every individual, why do you think India is still a violator of Human Rights?

It is because of the lack of education and awareness amongst the masses. Because the masses are unaware of the laws that are applicable to them and the exclusive rights of women, children, and other vulnerable and marginalized sectors of the society that can provide them protection against brutality and transgression, it is easier to infringe or curtail their rights.

The government should be held accountable for the distress penetrating a particular section of society. Higher demand for civil responsibility should be expected from the administrators and government officials to protect each person’s rights.

The standards of prisons, police departments, and different government agencies should be scrutinized and improved. Selective discrimination towards a section of people due to false documents, misleading conjectures, and non-speculated information should be stringently punishable.

Final Words

There have been plenty of courageous human rights activists in the history of India who, over the years, have extensively fought and raised their voices for a change.

We have Kailash Satyarthi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who staunchly advocates for child rights.

Bezwada Wilson, a Ramon Magsaysay awardee who campaigns against manual scavenging practices

Stanislaus Lourduswamy, popularly known as Stan Swamy, was an Indian Roman Catholic priest who voiced against tribal rights.

Sunitha Krishnan, a rape survivor and the co-founder of Prajwala NGO that works on the issues of sex crimes and sex trafficking

Lakshmi Agarwal, an acid attack survivor, works towards safeguarding acid attack victims, amongst many more valorous changemakers.

Where on one side of the picture we have perpetrators of heinous crimes in India that send a chill down our spine, on the other, brighter side, we have an incredible group of revolutionary reformers who believe in preserving the rights of every human being and giving us hope for a better future.

Under no conditions or circumstances do human rights ever cease to exist. International committees closely monitor and call for dialogues when human rights standards are not complied with. This is done through cases being tried at international tribunals and courts.

However, when the situation deteriorates, and more and more people are stripped of their rights, it only becomes difficult to take the legal route. The situation goes beyond the help and aid of any international institution. Therefore the best plausible solution is to make the masses wary of their basic rights, ingrain the values and concepts of human rights in them deeply, and help them recognize their rights on an individual and community basis.

REFERENCING

[1] Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, 1948, art. 1.

[2] Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India, available at https://censusindia.gov.in/census_and_you/religion.aspx (last visited on 21st February 2022).

[3] The Constitution of India.

[4] Anubha Bhonsle, “The Massacre in Manipur that Prompted Irom Sharmila’s Fast-Unto-Death Sixteen Years Ago.” The Caravan, 9th January 2016, available at https://caravanmagazine.in/vantage/the-massacre-in-manipur-that-prompted-irom-sharmilas-fast-unto-death-sixteen-years-ago (21th February, 2022)

[5] The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973, s. 46.

[6] AIR 2007, SCC [cri] 180.

[7] “Interpol Data Says 24 Lakh Online Child Abuse Cases Reported in India in 2017-20.” The Quint, 18th November, 2021, available at https://www.thequint.com/news/india/interpol-data-24-lakh-online-child-sexual-abuse-cases-india-2017-20 (21st February, 2022)

[8] Press Trust of India, “India recorded over 350 crimes against children each day in 2020, shows CRY’s analysis of NCRB data.” First Post, 1st October, available at https://www.firstpost.com/india/india-recorded-over-350-crimes-against-children-each-day-in-2020-shows-crys-analysis-of-ncrb-data-10017571.html (21st February, 2022)


Author: Ibteda Fatima


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