All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. It has been rightly proclaimed in the American declaration of independence that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Created with certain unalienable rights….” Similarly, Indian Constitution has ensured and enshrined Fundamental rights for all citizens irrespective of caste, creed, religion, color, sex or nationality. These basic rights, commonly known as human rights, are recognized the world over as basic rights with which every individual is born.
In recognition of human rights “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was made on 10th of December, 1948. This declaration is the basic instrument of human rights. In spite of the fact that this declaration has no legal bindings and authority, it forms the basic of all laws on human rights. The necessity of formulating laws to protect human rights is now being felt all over the world. According to social thinkers the issue of human rights has become very important after the conclusion of World War II. It is important for social stability both at national and international level. Wherever there is breach of human rights there is conflict at one level or the other.
In view of the increasing importance of the subject it becomes necessary that the subject of human rights be recognized by educational institutions as an independent discipline. Course contents and curriculum of the discipline of human rights may very according to the nature and circumstances of a particular institution but generally it should include the rights of a child, rights of minorities, rights of the destitute and the disabled, right to live, convention on women, trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation etc.
Since the formation of the United Nations the promotion and protection of human rights has been its main focus. The United Nations has created a wide range of mechanisms for monitoring violations of human rights. The conventional mechanisms include treaties and organizations, U.N. special reporters, representatives and experts and working groups. Asian countries like China argue in favor of collective rights. According to Chinese thinkers European countries lay stress upon individual rights and values while Asian countries esteem collective rights and obligations to the family and society as whole.
With freedom movement the world over after World War II the end of colonization also ended the policy of apartheid and thereby the most aggressive violation of human rights. With spread of education women are asserting for their rights. Women’s movements are playing important role in spreading the message of human rights. They are fighting not only for their own rights but are also supporting the struggle for human rights of other weaker and deprived sections like bonded labour, child labour, landless labour, unemployed persons, dalits and elderly people.
It is unfortunate that violation of human rights still continues in most parts of the world. Ethnics cleansing and genocide can still be seen in several parts of the world. Large sections of world population are deprived of basic necessities of life i.e. food, shelter and security of life. Right to minimum basic needs viz. work health care, education and shelter are denied to them. These deprivations amount to negation of Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Although advanced countries of the West claim to be the champions of human rights, in practice they follow a partisan political agenda. Some of them are engaged in double-speak of human rights and use it only as an excuse to persue their agenda against the developing and under-developed countries whereby human rights are already violated by them as these are interpreted to suit their malicious activities. Hence, so long as disparity of financial and economic conditions among the developed and developing countries continues, human rights to a vast number of people cannot be guaranteed. International monetary and financial system will have to address for that.
Environmental pollution and degradation is becoming a threat to the very survival of human life. Other rights become inconsequential if the very right live is not safe. Information technology is assuming such dimensions that the privacy of life and established moral and ethical standards may be eroded.
Indian Govt. is no less concerned about human rights. Human Rights Act 1993 created “The National Human Rights Commission” with the following provisions:
(a) The commission is authorized to conduct enquiry on a petition presented to it by a victim or into complaint of violation of human rights or abetment thereof or negligence by some public servant in prevention of such violation.
(b) The National Human Rights Commission can also intervene in any proceeding involving any allegation of violation of Human Rights pending before some court with the permission of the court.
(c) The commission can visit any prison in the country to study the living conditions of its inmates and make recommendations thereabout.
(d) The commission can review the existing safeguards and laws protecting Human Rights and can make suggestions for effective implementation thereof.
(e) The National Human Rights Commissions encourages NGO’s and institutions and promotes research in the field of Human Rights.
The National Human Rights Commission is headed by a chairman and includes four members and three deemed members who are chairpersons of the National Minority Commission, The National Commission of Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribes and National Commission for women. The chairperson and the members are appointed by the president of India on the recommendation of a committee comprising of the Prime Minister as its chairman, speakers of Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha and the Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha. According to the Human Rights Act of 1993 only the present or some former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court can hold the post of chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission.
The NHRC protects the fundamental rights enshrined on the constitution or include in treatise to which India is a party. It has also stressed the need for appropriate political measures to tackle terrorism, the insulation of investing of investigative functions of the police from political or other extraneous pressure and the revision of the Indian Prisons Act of 1994 for improvement in conditions in jails and police lockups.
Priorities of the National human Rights Commission include ending of child labour, provision of elementary education to all and guaranteeing a certain level of exception of all levels of society that they can live under protection of an adequate and effective legal system. The NHRC has recommended that all states must have their own Human Rights Commission to ensure swift disposal of petitions coming from respective states.
It would be in the interest of the country that baseless complaints on Human Rights excesses in areas hit by insurgency are discouraged because majority of complaints received in these areas have been found baseless by the army and the NHRC. Hence for successful working of NHRC sincerity on the part of complainants should be first priority and necessity.