Infringement of fundamental rights: Is it or is it not?
Annexing the city of Babylon was just as capturing the land, but not the
subjects. This was what Cyrus the great, the first king of ancient Persia,
wanted. 539 B.C. saw a development which changed the entire perception about
civilians and one's own value of life. He set up a benchmark to the recently
captured subjects by declaring the value and importance of one's own life. As
establishing these facts, he released all those people which were labelled as
slaves and set up a form where all people had a right to put themselves
above everything, a right to choose their own religion and a right to equalize
themselves amongst different behavioral patterns. This event demarcated the
earliest development of human rights knowingly or unknowingly, for the better or
It is then in the year of 1215, a piece of document which was named the Magna
Carta was forced upon the King John of England by way of signing the document.
It was quite evident as to why such piece of document was signed by compulsion
and how that piece of paper hold such power; the very fact that the then King
had lightly taken into account many things and therefore the citizens wanted to
hold onto something powerful which would make him stop committing the faults by
not following ancient laws. This Magna Carta was later on held to be a symbol of
In this event it is evident that the then subjects of King John couldn't hold
the infringements of those ancient laws and more grievous to hear that they
weren't followed by the King himself, they had no other choice but to make him
sign a document which would protect the subjects at all costs, the very reason
to why the Magna Carta still holds as a historical symbol for human rights.
The Magna Carta consisted of rights that serve human rights in today's time; a
few being, right to not marry, right to equality, right of property by widows
Many other specific historic events as well took place since then, The
Petition of Right, 1628, The United States Declaration of Independence,
1776 much more came into significance.
It was at last the making of Universal Declaration of Human Rights came into
picture in the year of 1948 which was a breakthrough of human rights by the
United Nations, specifically under the President Franklin Roosevelt's wife,
Eleanor Roosevelt. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a document
listed thirty rights to what was established as rights which every human being
is entitled upon. This is 'the' document that the world has taken upon itself as
an agreement, to stabilize; as a contract between different governments of the
world and its citizens in today's time.
A right that every human being must without a doubt possess upon is what human
rights are; rights that don't get in anyone's way, rights that shouldn't be
demanded or begged upon but must be present as soon as he is presented out to
the world. These rights were long beyond fought and demanded in order to be
conceptualized and declared as human rights.
The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights were established and declared in
December 10, 1948, which most people would only think that the Human Rights
declaration was quite early compared to other reform formulation. But this
wasn't the case since rights such as right to life, right to liberty and
freedom, right to the pursuit of happiness, right to live one's life free of
discrimination which are some examples of the human rights were something people
had to be given as fundamentals.
Now what one must understand is that Human rights are those that are widely
recognized in the world as a whole. It must also be understood that each and
every country in this world has different form of governments and is unique in
every aspect. So a question naturally arises. Does every country follow the
human rights? Even if every country follows the human rights, does every country
follow the same set of rights or is it different?
This is where fundamental rights come into picture.
Human rights and fundamental rights, do you think there is a difference between
them? Or is it just the same? Well, the answer is both a yes and a no, confusing
yet easy to understand. The further explanation would be known as we go ahead.
Human rights are as earlier mentioned are rights that every country must respect
and put into use some way or the other. These are moreover clear cut rules and
regulations rather than laws that every country must have in their by-laws by
hook or crook, in whatever form they might be. This would also mean that human
rights are ever so universal in nature; the very reason why Human Rights without
a doubt gets recognized at international levels.
Whereas fundamental rights in terms of law are those rights that exist within
territorial boundaries, not to be confused. These are again basic rights every
human being must possess. Yet fundamental rights have a small basal difference
with the human rights. Human rights are universal and are common to every
country whereas fundamental rights although the idea might be the same, they
differ from country to country basis. This would mean that what one country
might deem to be fundamental would not be deemed as fundamental to another
country. Again not to be mistaken, this isn't the only point of difference found
between the two rights.
Our country, India was one of the very few countries who understood the need in
the recognition of human rights and was one of the very few who took these
rights seriously in the beginning. Truth be told, no country at present play or
take lightly these rights as these now form the basis of any nations legal
It is India's pride to mention that the very Constitution of India's preamble
itself evidently holds the importance of human rights in writ form, the
definitive being 'dignity of the individual'. By gathering all that is mentioned
above it is quite obvious to evolve that fundamental rights eventually arose
from the human rights itself. In our country's case, both human rights and the
fundamental rights have an uncanny resemblance which suggests the fact that our
country took the very dignity of a human life to its truest sense.
India holds six fundamental rights; them being, Right to equality, Right to
freedom, Right against exploitation, Right to freedom of religion, cultural and
educational rights and Right to constitutional remedies. Therefore it is clear
that our country chose to follow and implement the same human rights as our
fundamental rights which form a country's reason for legal existence.
This is where the real question naturally comes into existence. Even though our
country had an un-denying basis for respecting and following the human rights
and fundamental rights, is it certain that the citizens get to make sure of
these rights? Are one's fundamental or human rights actually safeguarded?
This is sadly a very unstill answer, the answer being a no. It is obvious and
kind of the fact that India is already developing so much both by minds and by
actions, but there isn't answers when the citizens do really need. India does
what it needs to protect us yet there is a flaw through which citizens don't get
to make use of their basic rights.
Let us take the most recent case into example, The Disha Ravi Toolkit Case.
Article 19 (1)(a) clearly mentions about freedom of speech and expression. This
falls under the ambit of fundamental rights in our country. Yet there are
certain restrictions that can be imposed on such a right when in dire need.
These restrictions can be imposed on situations such as; security of the state,
healthy relationships with countries, public order, morality and decency, being
a few. To assemble peaceably and without arms and to form unions or associations
are also consequently other such fundamental rights.
The Disha Ravi toolkit is all the rage these days, people voiced their
criticisms as to why this 23 year old got arrested. The basic thing that any
common man for those who aren't familiar with the case is that Disha Ravi, a 23
year old environmental activist got arrested sue to the 'involvement'/
connection in the Tractor Rally Violence and also in the great deal of
involvement in the making of a toolkit that tarnished the image of India.
Now we won't be discussing the case in detail. All we would be noticing or
getting into point would be the instances what might seem trivial to most but
which isn't. Was there or was there not an infringement of fundamental rights?
Let us go step by step, problem by problem, and situation by situation.
The first and the foremost thing that needs to be pointed out, was there a
failure of rights from Disha Ravi's perspective, her being a citizen of India?
The answer is a yes. Is it against any law when it comes to communication to the
people from outside India?
We can find in this current case that she was lost the very right of expression,
be it personally or publically. What must be understood is that stripping away
of one's freedom of speech and expression is as same as stripping away the right
of food or water of a person. No person must whatsoever, at least in this point
of time in this world must be stripped of such rights.
But as per law, there can be restrictions on this very freedom, the restrictions
being; security of the state, healthy relationships with countries, public
order, morality and decency, being a few. To counter this, what must be noticed
was that this young woman's voice never went with/ against the restrictions that
were set up to strip off her right to freedom of speech and expression. It was
quite evident to anyone that this girl was stripped off her fundamental right.
Now, think of another possibility. If it was actually established that Disha was
involved in conversations with the perpetrators, is it a crime to communicate
with people from outside India? This very event made Disha voicing just her
opinion as a crime. This can be also taken into account from a case which was
adjudged recently in the year of 2015.
Priya Parameswaran Pillai V Union Of India & Others got us the judgement
which clearly stated that adopting or the voicing of a particular section of
people in our country isn't being anti-national. This very statement formed
states that Disha Ravi indeed had every right to vent out her feelings or
opinions, no matter it being right or wrong to the major section of the society.
Taking recourse to the next fundamental right, freedom to make unions or
association, let us think of the latter possibility. Does taking help from
people from outside, to borrow a hand, to be proved by being involved in the
very making of the toolkit, what was truly wrong in it? Is it against a law
where a person cannot have the right to stir a protest of support for a good
cause in our nation?
This very contradiction made the fundamental right of freedom to make unions or
associations also got stripped away from her. This might come to our country
only as an interference and not done out of concern. But like it or not, the
things mentioned till the above, nothing was against any law in our country,
making Disha innocent till now.
The next question comes in place. Was it wrong to edit (in any way) a toolkit,
for which Disha Ravi was mainly arrested for? What must be clearly established
is that no matter if she did or did not do, the funny situation is, a person has
a complete right to edit (in any way) a document. Generally speaking, gathering
up of international support, moral support or a physical protest is perfectly
legal, all the more; it would also be legal to edit a document in correspondence
The information mentioned in the toolkit was nowhere near to harmful in nature,
even so if people ever got this toolkit in hand and took this as a basis for
performing violence, it was CLEARY mentioned in the toolkit that the very reason
for the birth of such a toolkit was just to gather support, nothing more or
There is so much more to analyze in this very case but only a very few
fundamental rights which might be deemed as trivial in this case was pointed out
in order to show today's condition of the world when it comes to the treating
and respect of fundamental rights in a country especially like India who had far
long ago recognized its importance. Today's scenario is as such, tomorrow it
might be different, for better or for worse. However the situation is, there
will come a time where protests against the working of human rights would arise
to a point that the government would be helpless. Therefore it is time to take a
stance. To ignore or to guide.
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