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Human Rights And Model Of Freedom

Today 'human rights' and 'freedom' are very frequent words that we use in our everyday utilization. But the evolutionary history of human rights did not come easily in the present day world politics and additionally the arrival of human rights in India was not a very synchronized phenomenon. The effervescence of human rights in India can be felt through the practical application of the 'freedom model' enshrined in India Constitution. This whole study has been given in a detailed account over here.

What is Human Right?

Human beings being rational on their very existence possess certain inalienable and basic rights which become operative with their birth irrespective of caste, creed, culture, sex etc. The broad dimension of 'human rights' inculcate all civil rights and liberties along with the social, economic and cultural rights based on the primary human requirements and the concept of natural law and justice. Thus, if president of a sate has the human rights, the domestic help working at his/her house also deserve the same rights but how much of the rights of these people are achieved is a matter of question and speculation.

Evolution of Human Rights in India

Although the term 'human rights' got exposure in recent times, its practical application and discourse have been since ancient age. According to Gita, one who has no ill will against anybody, who is amicable and compassionate without being egoistic and self-centered with possession of patience shall achieve salvation.

Drawing concurrence with Gita's text and today's understanding of human rights, we see the similar implied significance of human rights where non-violence, freedom, right of one being duty of another, qualities of humanity are requisite components of it. Prophet Mohammed 's affirmation on mutual respect and dignity, Akbar's code of conduct having equal taxation policy and duties with an attempt in establishing 'sarva dharma' in India spoke synonymously about 'human rights.'

Similarly, Ashoka's opinion on non-violence, Buddhism, Jainism establishing basic rights of human have made it crystal clear that 'human rights' is not something of recent value and can neither be excluded from society. With the invasion of British, many socio-legal changes were brought up. Indians saw discrimination and humiliation along with physical and mental atrocities and thus understood the significance of freedom and basic rights. With the independence of India, the Constitution of India also known as the Magna Carta came into force in 1950. The Carta amplified the rights of citizens and their inalienable freedom in political, social and economic spheres.

Relationship between Human Rights and Freedom Model

Though Human Rights through its etymological meaning is not a new concept and has been existing in the world since the beginning of human life in the world itself, the concept of 'Human Rights' as a subject of study and awareness wing came into the world in recent past. With monarchy, dictatorship, Nazi propaganda, British colonization, slave culture or caste system, people have realized the importance of freedom that not only encompasses bodily independence but also freedom of thought and freedom of every human act without causing any impediment for others.

Thus, concurrently 'freedom' stands as an ideal zenith which has to be achieved through the mechanism of Human Rights. The 'freedom' we are talking about has been incorporated in the Constitution of India through various Articles with the help of various world Conventions and agreements with the aim of ensuring human rights to every citizen of the country.

With the advent of British in India, we saw a flood of our own resources to Britain which was a sheer example of ignorance regarding the notion of equality. Thus, the Constitution framers saw the importance 'equality before law' which is provided under Article 14 of the constitution. With equality coming as an essential ground for governing the state, certain other liberties were also made important part of the Constitution.

Article 15(1) Prohibition of discrimination, Article 16(1) Equality of opportunity , Article 19(1)(a) Freedom of speech and expression. With Hitler's atrocities growing in the world, racism, slavery where a man downgrades other man, casteism, untouchability, people understood the importance of protest and voicing their own opinions through structured organizations. Organizations like Indian National Congress, Azad Hind Fauj, Communist Party of India, incessantly supported the Indian freedom struggle.

Thus, came another set of Articles in the Constitution which now act as a medium for attaining the different schools of 'Human Rights.' Some of these articles are Article 19(1)(c) Freedom of peaceful assembly, Article 19(1)(c) Right to form associations, Article 19(1)(d) Freedom of movement within the border, Article 20(1) Protection in respect for conviction for offences, Article 21 Protection of life and personal liberty, Article 23 Protection of slavery and forced labour. Additionally, freedom of conscience and religion, remedy for enforcement of right, protection of slavery and forced labour are some of the components of the freedom model imbibed within the Constitution.

Atrocities against human rights were not only the concepts that were prevalent in India and in order to abolish these atrocious practices, it was important for the people to rule over themselves without giving any particular persons the supreme power that creates hierarchy which also in some way or the other defies the understanding of 'freedom' and thus defeating 'human rights.'

This awareness propelled the people to strive and fight for state where governance would become easier and the very existence of state asked for political sovereignty and the key ingredient of which is 'freedom.'

To work for this 'freedom' where each state can run independently without any other state causing any social and political barrier for others, it was important for the states to function together as a global village. Thus, different conventions and agreements are signed by the states together. One of them is Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) whose provisions have inspired the Indian Constituent Assembly in framing the Constitution.

Other international covenants in this regard are International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights, 1966 (ICCPR) and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which have proved exemplary for the formation and amendment of our Constitution.

Society being constantly changing, the idea of ideal society and definition of freedom also changes. Hence the concept of freedom is abstract giving the structure of 'human rights,' a flexible foundation. Thus, the scope of Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) was adopted in Part IV of our Constitution which may not be fundamental in today's circumstances but acts as 'objectives' which the state should strive to focus on and in doing so, the medium of Human Rights is required thus fulfilling the basic requirements of humans.

Some of these articles are Article 41 right to work, Article 39(d) Equal pay for equal work, Article 43 Right to wage and descent standard of living, Article 42 Right to humane conditions of work and maternity leave , article 39(f) Right of prevention against exploitation , Article 29(1) & 30 protection of interests of minorities.

With the DPSP being objectives, Fundamental Rights given under Part III of the Constitution are concrete structures which the state shall necessarily establish for its citizens to retain its identity as a free state. Thus, we can say that although Constitution in itself is a prima facie expression of freedom model in India where fundamental rights are today's concrete roads and DPSPs are the concrete freedom destination of today's freedom model that functions to achieve human rights. Therefore, it will not be wrong to say that though human rights and freedom model are two distinct notions but are indeed the two wheels of the same car that must sun together for the very existence of 'human beings.'

The abstract concept of 'freedom' and 'human rights'

'Freedom' itself being a very vast concept, revolves around multiple interpretations. Thus, what human right is for some might not be the same for other. There cannot be one static 'freedom model' for every citizen to establish their human rights. Legislations, judicial decisions or even the Constitution per se cannot define the concept of 'freedom' and 'human rights' for every individual in the state.

Relevant Case Laws
Indian courts through their remarkable judicial decisions have also introduced many necessary human rights into the society. The Supreme Court in a relevant case has held that the natural or common law rights unless provided in the Constitution are not recognized by the state in whole.

Hence, judiciary has always played a crucial role in interpreting the scopes of fundamental rights and directive principles. With the introduction of the terms like 'theory of emanation' and power of 'locus standi,' Indian judiciary has significantly brought revolution in the concept of 'human rights.'

Some Of The Judicial Decisions In The Spectrum Of Human Rights Are Enumerated Below:

  • In National Legal Services Authority (vs) Union of India (AIR 2014 SC 1863), while dealing with the expression � 'person' given in Article 14 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court observed that the term 'person' covers every sex including male, female, transgender not falling under male or female. Every person is entitled to equality before law and equal protection of law.
  • In Naz Foundation (vs) Government of NCT of Delhi, (160 Delhi Law times 277) , the Delhi High Court declared that section 377 of The Indian Penal Code that criminalized unnatural sexual intercourse thus penalizing homosexuality was unconstitutional and violated few fundamental rights like Article 14 , 15 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.
  • In Union of India (vs) Association for Democratic Reforms, (2002 AIR 2112), the Supreme Court observed that misinformation or one � sided information creates uninformed citizenry thus constructing a farce democracy. Freedom to hold opinions on receiving information is a requisite component of the freedom of speech and expression.

Although India has shown a positive attitude towards citizen's freedom, there have been recent cases portraying crackdown of human rights. In 2016, several university students were accused of sedition for expressing their political views, in the same year UN published a report showing Indian statistics on caste -based discrimination.

Further, the suicidal murder of Rohit Vemula , a 25 year old Dalit student attracted attention of Indian students to speak against the infringement of the basic human rights and freedom to live with dignity and respect. The recent controversy about Karnataka's Hijab case is although near about settled yet many consider it as an example of state's whim to snatch citizen's human right. The Rajasthan state government's misconduct in handling the rampant cases on auction and selling of girls again shows the defeating notions of human rights in India.

Therefore, this speaks about the dual character of India's attempt in establishing human rights. This requires primary awareness amongst people to know their rights or introduce more instances of their freedom with the passage of time. Similarly political representatives must represent their citizen's endeavors from the government and the executive system. With the help of internal introspection and global comparisons, it will be easier for a state to work towards freedom of citizens in establishing human rights. Hence it can be rightly said that

"To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity."- Nelson Mandela

A. Books
  • Dr. J.N. Pandey, Constitutional Law of India 488(Central Law Agency, Allahabad, 57th edn.,2020)
  • Dr. H.O. Agarwal, International Law &Human Rights (Central Law Publications, Allahabad, 23rd edn.,2021)
B. Websites

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Abantika Kar
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