The present research paper aims at understanding the concept of
evolution of human rights in India and gives a clear outlook of the various
stages. This paper will also take a look at the comparison of USA and India's
human rights. The loopholes in India's human rights with some landmark judgments
will also be looked upon.
“Human Rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human
being's entitlement by virtue of his humanity
Aristotle had said centuries ago, “Man is a social animal.”
From birth till
childhood; from childhood till maturity; from maturity till adulthood; from
adulthood till old-age; from old-age till death, every human exercises some
basic rights to live with dignity. Human beings are rational beings. By virtue
of their humanity, they are entitled to some rights that are necessary for their
peaceful survival. To avoid conflicts in the social environment, one needs to
respect the life of others. To fulfill this objective, every human is conferred
with rights. These rights, in a layman language, are known as Human Rights.
Meaning Of Human Rights
According to UN, “human rights are rights inherent to all human beings,
regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any
other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from
slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and
education, and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without
These rights are inalienable and indispensable. The most unique feature of human
rights is that it is difficult to define but impossible to ignore. It has been
seen that human rights are essential for every human being in order to live
their life to the fullest.
History And Development Of Human Rights In India
The history and development of human rights in India can be divided into three
stages – Ancient, Medieval, and Modern.
Human Rights In Ancient India
The concept of human rights is not alien to Indian political thinkers and
philosophers. The concept is as old as ancient civilization.
In ancient India, law was based on the principle of Dharma
. The Epics –
Ramayana and Mahabharata make us learn that Dharma was ordained for the
advancement of all creatures as well as restraining creatures from injuring one
another. The righteousness has been described as the essence of Dharma in The Bhagwad Geeta. The Upanishads speak of Dharma as the foundation of whole
universe. The Vedas and Smritis talk about the concept of “VasudhaivKutumbakam”
(the whole world as one family). All the four Vedas insist on equality and
dignity for humans.
The teachings of Buddha worked effectively for the protection of human rights.
The great King Ashoka had been successful in the creation of a welfare state for
his subjects and provided them with basic freedoms and rights.
Hence, it is very much clear that Ancient Indian Literatures stood for enlarging
and encouraging human rights, freedoms, liberty and equality for all people
irrespective of any discrimination based on caste, creed, gender, sex, religion.
Human Rights In Medieval India
The Medieval period signifies the Muslim era in India. The Pre-Mughal period saw
the existence of social, political, cultural, religious rights. But with the
advent of Mughals, the concept of human rights got lost in the dark. But Akbar's
period (1526-1605) showed that the great regard was given to the social,
religious and political rights.
In his religious policy Din-E-Ilahi
(divine-religion), he tried to preach the idea of secularism and religious
tolerance. Similarly, various religious movements like Bhakti (Hindu) and Sufi
(Islamic) made remarkable contribution to the emergence of human rights which at
times suppressed by the other Mughal Emperors like Babar, Humayun, and Aurangzeb.
Human Rights In Modern India
The British rule in India can be seen in the Modern period. During this period,
the British Government of India had not only deprived the Indian people of their
freedom but had based itself on the exploitation of the masses, and ruined India
economically, politically, culturally and spiritually.
After witnessing the colonial rule, every Indian was of the firm opinion that
the recognition, protection and implementation of human rights are not only
basic but also inalienable for them for leading a civilized life.
The Preamble, Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles of State Policy, newly
added Fundamental Duties, reservation for scheduled castes and tribes, special
provisions for Anglo- Indians and other backward classes are important
constitutional provisions from the human rights point of view.
The study of
human rights with reference to Indian Constitution reveals that the Constitution
enshrines almost all the human rights provided in the various international
conventions, covenants and treaties, such as:
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948;
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1976;
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1976;
- Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,
- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against
- Convention on the Rights of Child, 1989;
- Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities, 2006.
Apart from the various constitutional provisions, various statutes have also
been enacted by the Indian legislature with a view to protect and promote human
Some of the important legislations enacted by the union are:
- Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993;
- National Commission for Minorities Act,1992;
- National Commission for Women Act, 1990;
- Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1995;
- Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities)
- Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1987;
- Bonded Labor System (Abolition) Act, 1976;
- Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000;
- Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 etc.
India has also adopted a number of
legislative measures for the social security of the labor, which have been
greatly influenced by ILO's standards.
In this way, the concept of human rights developed and deepened its roots in
Comparison Between India And Usa's Human Rights Law
The human rights, basically, are same in every country. Therefore, the
comparison can be done on the basis of the human rights' violation and its
implementation in different ways in different countries. In this research
article, we are going to take a look at the comparison of India and USA's Human
USA – Revelations related to sexual harassment and misconduct by high-profile
men continued to be made as the #MeToo movement expanded virally, highlighting
abuses suffered by women at work and in public places. A few states took steps
to proactively protect or expand protections for women's health. However,
several states adopted highly restrictive laws on abortion and reproductive
INDIA – Numerous cases of rapes, sexual harassment at workplace, abuses to women
have increased over a period of time. To protect women, the government launched
a national registry of sexual offenders. The Supreme Court lifted ban on entry
of women of menstruating age – between10 and 50 – to a temple in Southern India.
Sexual Orientation And Gender Discrimination
USA – 19 states in America have laws expressly banning discrimination based on
both sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, and public
INDIA - India's Supreme Court struck down section 377 of India's penal code,
decriminalizing consensual adult same-sex relations. The ruling followed decades
of struggle by activists, lawyers, and members of LGBT communities. The Lower
House of Parliament of India also passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of
Rights) Bill, 2018. Even after several amendments were proposed in the bill, it
failed to protect the community adequately.
Freedom Of Expression And Assembly
USA – Hundreds of media outlets published coordinated defenses of press freedom
in USA. Journalists also experienced deadly violence and threats. US technology
companies faced increased pressure from lawmakers to restrict speech on their
platforms. A new law aimed at curbing online sex trafficking made websites
liable for what users say and do on their platforms.
INDIA - Authorities continued to use laws on sedition, defamation, and
counterterrorism to crack down on dissent. Journalists faced increasing pressure
to self-censor due to threat of legal actions, smear campaigns and threat on
social media, even threat of physical attacks. State governments resorted to
blanket internet shutdown either to prevent violence and social unrest or to
respond to an ongoing law and order problem.
Other Human Rights Violations
USA – Harsh criminal sentencing; Racial disparities, drug policy, and policing;
Children in the criminal and juvenile justice systems; Poverty and criminal
justice; Incidents of hate crimes; Deteriorating rights of non-citizens; Right
to health; Repressive laws of national security, are severely violating the
human rights in USA.
INDIA – The status of Jammu and Kashmir; Impunity for security forces like UAPA
and AFSPA; Rights of Dalits, Tribal groups, and Religious Minorities; Civil
society and freedom of association; Refugee and Citizenship Rights like CAA,
2019; Disability Rights, are other examples of violation of human rights in
Key Facts Of Comparison
As we have seen in previous few paragraphs, there are similarities in the issues
of India and USA's Human Rights violations. The Right to Freedom of Speech and
Expression; Women's Rights; Children's Rights; Minorities' Rights; Other
authoritative laws of States, are being violated on a continuous basis in both
Also, there are many good laws in both the countries to protect the human rights
of the citizens. But the main loophole is in implementation of those laws. The
legislature of both the countries are concerned about making laws for the
betterment of public but the executives, in implementing those laws
successfully, have failed somewhere.
USA has disengaged its funds from various international platforms including ICC,
UNHRC, and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, etc. Whereas, India is trying
its level best to engage itself in international forums more and more. It is
doing everything that it can do to protect human rights and dignity of its
However, USA is far better than India in World Human Rights Index.
Loopholes In Context To Human Rights In India
Monthly Salient Statistics Of Cases
Registered/Disposed By Nhrc ( October 2020 ) 
|Name Of Incidents
|Custodial deaths (police)
|Custodial deaths (judicial)
|Death in police encounter
The above statistics is horrible. This is the condition of India in the matters
of human rights violations. These statistics reveal about the loopholes that
Indian legal system, especially in terms of human rights, is facing.
- NHRC has been reduced to a toothless tiger: SC points out the
loopholes in a case of extra-judicial killings, commonly known as 'encounter
deaths' in Manipur. SC reiterates, “If the people of our own country are
deprived of human rights or cannot have them enforced, democracy itself would be
- The human rights violations can be avoided if high-powered formed for
the protection of human rights in the country are made effective and given
- Many states are yet to form their human rights commission.
- A lack of accountability for misconduct persisted at all levels of
government, contributing to widespread impunity.
- Investigation and prosecution of individual cases took place, but lax
enforcement, a shortage of trained police officers, and an overburdened and
under-resourced court system contributed to a small number of convictions.
- Separatist insurgents and terrorists in the state of Jammu and Kashmir,
the north-east and Maoist-affected areas committed serious human rights
- Corruption and Bureaucracy of Indian government and opposition, too, is
a major issue.
Other Human Rights Violations
The Hon'ble Supreme Court has time-to-time reiterated the fact that human rights
are supreme in its various judgments. The landmark rulings of the Supreme Court
are as follows:
Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum,
Subject: Right to maintenance
Muslim personal law was challenged in this petition. The Supreme Court ruled in
favor of Shah Bano and granted her alimony which the Muslim community felt as an
encroachment on Muslim Sharia law. The decision of the case led to the formation
of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board in 1973.
MC Mehta v. Union of India, 1986
Subject: Right to Life
MC Mehta filed a Public Interest Litigation for escape of poisonous gases by a
plant in Bhopal. The court in this case extended the scope of Article 21 and 32
of the Constitution of India. The case is also famous as Bhopal Gas Tragedy.
Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan, 1997
Subject: Working conditions for women employees
This case came before the Supreme Court as a Public Interest Litigation against
State of Rajasthan and Union of India by Vishaka and other women groups. The
petitioners demanded enforcement fundamental rights for working women under
Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution. For this, Vishaka Guidelines were
issued. The judgment also provided basic definitions of sexual harassment at the
workplace along with provided guidelines to deal with the same.
Naz foundation v. NCT, 2009
Subject: Rights of LGBTs
The court decriminalized sexual activities “against the order of nature” which
included homosexual acts, as per Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. But this
judgment was overruled in 2013 by the Supreme Court of India.
NALSA v. Union of India, 2014
Subject: Rights of transgender
The Court recognized rights of the transgender as third genders. Also, ordered
government to treat them as minorities. Reservations in jobs, education and
other amenities shall also be provided to them.
Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, 2015
Subject: Right to freedom of speech and expression
The apex Court held section 66A of the Information Technology Act which allowed
arrests for objectionable content posted on the internet as unconstitutional and
hence, struck down by the impugned section.
As we have dealt with what human rights are and its history and development, we
are pretty much clear about the issues that are to be taken care of. We also
compared the human rights laws and conditions of India and USA. The laws are
very much similar in both the countries and are effective on paper. But the
successful implementation of these laws is the need of the hour. The loopholes,
which we discussed, are acting as a dodge in the implementation of these human
rights laws. The possible solutions for tackling these issues which are acting
as barriers can be:
- to prevent corruption and bureaucracy,
- speedy disposal of cases by setting-up more and more fast-track courts,
- allotting adequate resources in the execution of the matters,
- hiring of public servants on the basis of their skills and education and
not on the basis of any recommendation by powerful people,
- spreading awareness amongst people about their rights as well as
The landmark Supreme Court judgments that we have gone through are evident
in themselves that this country is capable of preventing the human rights
violation; all that is needed is correct implementation or execution and a
strong will to protect the citizens of our country and the whole world. As
we all are aware of a saying that 'where there is a will, there is a way!'
In sum, “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very
- Ms. Nidhi Madan, History and Development of Human Rights in
India, Volume 22, Issue 6, IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences,
- NHRC Report, National Human Rights Commission, India, October 2020
- AIR 1985 SC 945
- 1987 SCR (1) 819
- AIR 1997 SC 3011
- 160 DLT 277
- WP (Civil) No. 400 of 2012
- WP (Criminal) No. 167 of 2012