7. Human Rights

indian polity study materials 07
  • Human Rights are the moral claims which are inalienable and inherent to all individuals by virtue of their being human alone.
  • Throught the history, there has been a conflict between the ruling elite and the ruled. e.g: Magna Carta – England 1215.
  • French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen – 1789. American Bill of Rights
  • Since the First World War, league of Nations took some initiative. 0 was created in 1919.
  • International Slavery Convention was signed in 1926.
  • But during 1920s and 30s massive abuse of human life and dignity based on race, religion and nationality were there.
  • UNO was established after the World War II.
  • Art 1 of the UN Charter : ‘To achieve international co-operation in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedom for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.’ This was the first positive manifestation of internationalization of human rights values.
  • Soon thereafter followed the European Convention of Human Rights signed in November, 1950 and brought into force in 1953.
  • In 1959, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.
  • The year 1966 witnessed the adoption of the International Covenant of Economic, Solcial and Cultural Rights; the International covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of racial Discrimination. In 1979 the Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was adopted.
  • In 1986, the United nations General Assembly proclaimed the Declaration against Women.
  • In 1986, the United National General Assembly proclaimed the Declaration on the Right to Development.
  • These conventions, covenants and declarations constitute and act also as a friend, philolsopher and guide on human rights to all concerned all over the world.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR):

  •  The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948.

Art 1: All Human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

Art 2: Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this declaration without distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, nation, property, birth or other status.

Art 3 :     Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Art 4 :     Slavery and slave trade is prohibited.

Art 5 :    No one shall be subject to torture.

Art 7 :     All are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law.

Art 9 :    No one shall be subject to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Art 15 :     Everyone has the right to a nationality.

Art 18 :     Freedom of thought, conscience & religion.

Art 23 :    Right to work

Art 26 :     Right to education

Indian Constitution and Human Rights:

 Art 13 :     Boldly declares that all laws in so far they are inconsistent with the Fundamental Rights, be void, to the extent of inconsistency, and

further the State shall not make any law which takes away or abridges these rights and any law made in contravention, shall be Art 14 :   Secures equality before the law to all persons.

Art 15 :     Prohibits discrimination among the citizens on the ground or religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

Art 16 :     ensures equal opportunity to them in the matters of public

Art 19 :     Assures freedom of speech and expression, right to assemble peacefully and without arms; to form association and unions; to

move freely throughout the territory of India; to reside and settle in any part of the country, trade and business etc.

Art 21 :     Guarantees equal protection of the law and prohibits deprivation of life and personal liberty.

Art 23 :     Prohibits traffic in human beings and forced labour.

Art 24 :     Prohibits child labour.

Art 25-30 :      Assures freedom of conscience and right to manage religious institutions; as well as makes provisions for the protection of the minorities and their places of worship and educational institutions.

National Human Rights Commission:

  •  The Central Government shall constitute a body to be known as the National Human Rights Commission to exercise the powers conferred upon , and to perform the functions assigned to it, under the Human Rights Act 1993

The Commission shall consists of  a High Court 

  1. A chairperson who has been a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
  2. One Member who is or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court One Member who is, or has been , the Chief Justice of a High Court
  3. Two Members to be appointed from amongst persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human
  • The Chair person of the National Commission for Minorities, the National Commission for Scheduled castes , the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes] and the National Commission for women shall be deemed to be Members of the Commission for the discharge of functions specified in clauses (b) to (j) of section 12.
  • There shall be a Secretary-General who shall be the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission and shall exercise such powers and discharge such functions of the Commission (except judicial functions and the power to make regulations under section 40 b) as may be delegated to him by the commission or the Chairperson as the case may be
  • The Headquarters of the Commission shall be at Delhi and the Commission may, with the previous approval of the Central Government, establish offices at other places in India.

Functions of the Commission:

  •  The Commission shall perform all or any of the following functions, namely:-
  • inquire, suo motu or on a petition presented to it by a victim or any person on his behalf (Or on a direction or order of any court) into complaint of
  1. violation of human rights or abetment thereof; or
  2. negligence in the prevention of such violation, by a public servant;
  • intervene in any proceeding involving any allegation of violation of human rights pending before a court with the approval of such court;
  • visit, notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, any jail or other institution under the control of the State Government , where persons are detained or lodged for purposes of treatment, reformation or protection, for the study of the living conditions of the inmates thereof and make recommendations thereon to the Government ;
  • review the safeguards provided by or under the constitution or any law for the time being in force for the protection of human rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation;
  • review the factors, including acts of terrorism that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend appropriate remedial measures;
  • studies treaties and other international instruments on human rights and make recommendations for their effective implementation;
  • undertake and promote research in the field of human rights;
  • spread human rights literacy among various sections of society and promote awareness of the safeguards available for the protection of these rights through publications, the media, seminars and other available means;
  • encourage the efforts of non-governmental organizations and institutions working in the field of human rights;
  • Such other functions as it may consider necessary for the protection of human rights


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