Human Rights: India
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
Right to marry person of choice
2018: SC judgement against khap panchayats
‘Kin’s Consent Not Needed; States Can Set Up Safe Houses’
Holding that the right of a person to choose a life partner cannot be smothered by family or community on the basis of an extra-constitutional perception of class honour, the Supreme Court on Tuesday passed a slew of directions to protect couples from their kin and Khap panchayats.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud asked state governments and police authorities not only to provide protection to couple facing a threat to their lives but to also help facilitate such unions and consider setting up of safe houses at district headquarters.
The court said there is no space for an informal institution like a Khap panchayat to pass diktat in violation of law. It said infringement of human rights and fundamental rights of an person could not be tolerated in the name of class honour or individual perception of honour. “Human rights of a daughter, brother, sister or son are not mortgaged to the socalled or so-understood honour of the family or clan or the collective,” the court said. As per National Crime Records Bureau 288 cases of honour killing were reported between 2014 and 2016. “Honour killing guillotines individual liberty, freedom of choice and one’s own perception of choice. It has to be borne in mind that when two adults consensually choose each other as life partners, it is a manifestation of their choice which is recognized under Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution,” the court said.
The court held that consent of family or community is not necessary for an adult to get married with a person of her choice and this right of enjoyment of liberty deserved to be “continually and zealously” guarded so that it can thrive with strength and flourish with resplendence. “When the ability to choose is crushed in the name of class honour and the person’s physical frame is treated with absolute indignity, a chilling effect dominates over the brains and bones of society at large,” the bench said.
UNHRC review of India's record
2012-16: 186 complaints against defence
50% Of The Complaints From J&K Between 2012 and 2016, a total of 186 complaints of human rights abuses by defence personnel were recorded in states where the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 is in force, with the troubled state of Jammu & Kashmir accounting for almost half the complaints. Of the 186 complaints received between, the ministry of home affairs (MHA), while answering an RTI query , said that 127 cases of rights violations had been disposed of.“The data supplied by MHA under RTI does not indicate whether these complaints (which were disposed of) were found to be true or false,“ said Venkatesh Nayak of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI). Nayak added that the data owed that J&K accounted showed that J&K accounted for 49.5% of the complaints, while a little over 31% were from people in Assam. “Manipur accounted for a little more than 11%, with Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Tripura accounting for fewer than 10 complaints each. Only one complaint was received from Nagaland during this period,“ said Nayak. He added, “Interestingly, more than 57% of the complaints of human rights violations received from As sam are shown as pending.“
The MHA reply also shows that monetary relief to the tune of Rs. 6.47 crores was recommended in 117 cases during this period, with J&K accounting for only 3% of the recommended monetary relief, despite having the highest number of complaints.
Nayak, who had filed the RTI based on an un-starred question asked by five MPs in December last year, said the data given was for the seven states where AFSPA is in place: Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, J&K, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura. In Tripura, AFSPA was removed in May 2015.
The data given by MHA segregates the complaints into 12 categories, ranging from “arbitrary use of power“ to “custodial death“, “custodial torture“, “death in army encounter“ and “death in army firing“. Said Nayak, “The most number of complaints seem to have been received against the defence forces rather than the central paramilitary forces such as the CRPF , Assam Rifles, etc. deployed in the seven states.“
2017: 250 recommendations received
India Gets 250 Recommendations, Including On Same-Sex Ties, Death Penalty
In the wake of restrictions on some US-based voluntary organisations for violation of rules, the US has, as part of its recommendations at the review of India's rights record at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), suggested that India should ensure “consistent and transparent“ application of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.
India received 250 recommendations from different countries after the universal period review of its human rights record at the UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 4. Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi defended India's policies and programmes at the meeting and, as is required, promised to “review and report back to the UNHRC in September“, the UN said in a statement issued on Tuesday. Some of the recommen dations include ratification of the UN convention against torture and elimination of the death penalty; decriminalising consensual same-sex relationships; developing a national strategy to tackle exploitative labour practices, and ratifying the 2014 International Labour Organisation protocol to the Forced Labour Convention.
Many countries asked India to criminalise marital rape and strengthen protections for children. Others asked India to develop a national plan for human rights, and include human rights education in the draft of its new education policy .
India has also been asked to ensure the effective implementation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, especially in the training of state officials. Several others asked for a national action plan to combat hate crimes, racism and negative stereotypes against people of African descent inside its territory, including appropriate public awareness programmes.
India has once again been asked to revise the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, and bring it into compliance with obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Pakistan asked India to “take visible policy and other measures to ensure the freedom of religion and belief, and address the alarming trend of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, including mob violence committed, incited and advocated by right-wing parties and affiliated extremist organisations against minorities, particularly Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Dalits“.
Others asked India to revise the FCRA to “ensure benign working conditions for the civil society in India“.Many had more realistic suggestions, like “ensuring the implementation of a set of socio-economic policies, such as the Stand-Up India Scheme, is targeted, accountable, and transparent“.
India has also been asked to end “camp-based sterilisation operations in accordance with the Supreme Court order of September 14, 2016, by ensuring all women access to counselling and the full range of modern contraceptives in a voluntary, safe, and quality manner“.
Violations of rights
2018: 79 complaints of harassment of minorities
Five cases of alleged discrimination/victimisation of minorities and 99 cases of similar treatment to scheduled castes were registered across the country by National Human Rights Commission between April 1 and June 15 this year. In 2018, NHRC filed 79 complaints regarding harassment of minorities, with UP reporting 19 cases, and 672 cases of victimisation of scheduled castes, of which 46% were in UP.
Junior home minister G Kishan Reddy, replying to a query from Lok Sabha MP K Navaskani seeking details of complaints received by NHRC regarding harassment of minorities and Dalits, said the number of complaints in respect of minorities had fallen from 117 in 2016-17 to 67 in 2017-18, before rising again to 79 in 2018-19. Similarly, the number of Dalits alleging victimisation before NHRC fell from 505 in 2016-17 to 464 in 2017-18 before rising to 672 in 2018-19.
State-wise, the highest cases of alleged harassment of minorities as well as Dalits were registered by NHRC in UP, which also happens to be the most populous state in the country. UP reported 19 cases of minority harassment and 311 of SC victimisation in 2018-19, up from eight and 215 respectively recorded in 2017-18. Other states from where NHRC got complaints of minorities’ discrimination in 2018-19 were Gujarat (8), Tamil Nadu (7), Maharashtra and Haryana (5 each).
As regards alleged victimisation of Dalits, the maximum cases registered by NHRC between April 1 and June 15 this year were in UP (52). In 2018-19 too, the state topped the table with 311 cases relating to SC harassment, though Rajasthan too reported 41 cases, Haryana, 33 cases and Gujarat, 32.
5,049 deaths in jail in last 3 years
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has registered 427 cases relating to alleged deaths of accused in police custody and 5,049 cases pertaining to deaths in judicial custody in the last three years.
Junior home minister G Kishan Reddy, in reply to a question in Lok Sabha on Tuesday, said cases of deaths in police custody registered by NHRC in 2018-19 were 136 and of those in judicial custody, 1,797. The corresponding number of cases involving alleged deaths in police custody and judicial custody in 2017-18 were 146 and 1,636 respectively and in 2016-17, 145 and 1,616 respectively. The minister said NHRC had recommended disciplinary action against 20 erring public servants during the last three years in such cases. However, no record of the cases of conviction is maintained by the commission. NHRC also carried out visits to various prisons from time to time for monitoring the conditions of undertrials and prisoners. TNN