Evolution of Human Rights
Man is a rational animal. They possess certain basic and individual rights
which are commonly known as human rights. Thus human rights are those rights
which every individual is entitled by the virtue of being human. Human rights
are inherent in all the individuals irrespective of their class, creed,
religion, sex and nationality.
They are helpful for physical, moral, social and
spiritual development of man. Human Rights create an environment in which people
can develop their full potential. Human Rights are fundamental or basic rights.
These are mentioned in Indian constitution. So that they are one not taken away
by any act of legislation of the government.
From ancient times rights of human beings had been protected by various laws.
Babylonian king Hammurabi has issued a set of laws for his people. This is also
called Hammurabi's code. According to the code there is an establishment of fair
wages and protection of the property. Charges to be proved at trails. In Vedic
period Indians also devised a different set of standards in which obligations of
one was provided t everyone.
Jurisprudence of Laotze and Confucious in china protected Human Rights. Human
rights one also rooted in ancient thought and in philosophical concept of
national laws and national rights. Plato was one of the earliest thinkers to
advocate a universal standard of ethical conduct. The Roman jurist Ulpian said
that according to law of nature all men are equal and are born free. The
republic proposed the idea of universal truth that must be recognized.
Roman statesmen Cicero laid down the foundation of natural law and Human rights.
According to cicero there should be universal human rights laws that would go
beyond customary and civil laws. Stoics introduced the ethical concept of
natural law. According to him natural law is higher order of law. Natural law
should correspond to nature. It has to serve as law f civil society and
Later on St. Thomas Acquiras defined natural law as divine law. It was revealed
to man. Man acquired these divine law by the help of god given right to reason.
Thus origin of the concept of human rights are usually found in Greeco-Roman
natural law doctrines of Stoicisam.
The Magna Carta and Petition Of RightsGenerally English Monarchs act arbitrarily without taking nobles into
confidence in 1215 King John of England was forced by barons to sign the magna
carta. The main aim of magna carta was to secure protection against arbitrary
acts of the king. Magna carta made it clear that power of the king was not
absolute. Widely regarded as one of the most important legal document in the
development of modern democracy.
The next important milestone in the development
of human right was petition of right, produced in 1628 by the English parliament
and sent to Charles – 1 as a statement of civil liberties. When the parliament
refused to finance kings unpopular foreign policy, king turn to extract force
loan. Arbitrary arrest and imprisonment for opposing kings policies had produced
in parliament a violent hostility towards Charles- 1.
The petition of rights was
forced upon the earlier charter. This arrested four principles. First was no
taxes may be levied without consent of parliament, No subject may be imprisoned
without cause shown, no soldiers may be quartered upon the citizenry and martial
law may not be used at the time of peace.
The Virginia DeclarationThe Virginia declaration of rights is the work of George Mason. It declared that
all are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights
of which they cannot deprive themselves of their posterity.
This declaration can be considered as first modern constitutional protection of
individual rights for citizens of North America. This document not only
prescribed legal rights but also describes moral principles upon which a
government should run.
The French RevolutionThe French declaration of rights of man and citizen of 1789 stipulated that men
are born free and remain free and equal in rights. The aim of every political
organization is to protect natural and inalienable rights of man. Liberty,
property, security and resistance to oppression, etc. are the major right.
The Vienna DeclarationIn 1993 world conference on Human rights held in Vienna. The declaration of
Vienna conference stated that all human rights derive from the dignity and it is
inherent in the human person. Human person is central subject of human rights
and fundamental freedom.
Evolution in IndiaIndian freedom movement was basically a struggle for rights to equality, free
law and justice. These were derived to Indians during colonial rule. Indians
struggled for a long time to which colonial masters respond was very slow.
Though some rich Indians were given some political rights however majority of
Indians were subject to restrictions. The freedom struggle spread the idea of
equality, liberty and freedom as primary conditions of dignified human
existence. This led to setting up of the constituent assembly. The constituent
assembly formed the constitution of India.
Constitution of India provide certain rights which are called fundamental
rights. These fundamental rights are basic Human rights of all citizens
irrespective of their gender, caste, religion or creed. These vital elements of
the constitution are developed between 1947 to 1949. There are six fundamental
rights in India. They are Right to equality, Right to freedom, Right against
exploitation, Right to freedom of religion, Cultural and Educational rights and
Right to constitutional remedies. India faces human rights violation on a large
They are mainly - arbitrary arrest and detention, custodial torture,
child labor, violence against women and children, extrajudicial killing, sexual
violence and abuse, LGBTQ community rights, SC-ST disabled people and other
minorities issues, labor rights and right to work and manual scavenging.
According to justice, J.S.Verma "human dignity is the quintessence of human
rights". All those rights which are essential for the protection and maintenance
of dignity of individuals and create conditions in which every human being
develop his personality to the full extent may be termed as human rights.
According to D.D. Basu human rights are those minimum rights which every
individual must have against the state or other public authority by virtue of
his being a member of human family, irrespective of any other consideration.
The National Human Rights Commission was established in 1993 as an independent
statutory body as per the provisions of the protection of Human Rights act of
1993 which was later amended in 2006.The National Human Rights commission act as
a watchdog of human rights in the country. It looks over the rights related to
life, dignity, liberty and equality of individuals. They are guaranteed by the
constitution of India, embodied in the international covenants and are
enforceable by the courts of the courts of India as well.
Human rights are an important part of how people interact with others in
society. It is vital that people everywhere strive to understand what human
rights are. When people better understand human rights it is easier for them to
promote justice and the wellbeing of the society.
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