Article 44 of the Constitution should not remain a dead letter, Says NHRC Chairman AK Mishra

NHRC

The Cahirman person of human right commission Mr. Arun Kumar Mishra said that to protect our right to life, we have to perform the duty to protect the environment and prevent Climate Change. More so while achieving Sustainable Development Goals. We cannot keep cutting trees and claim the right to live in a healthy environment. Human Rights Day reminds us of love and affection for all fellow humans and other living creatures. We cannot exist alone. We need to co-exist, different rights interact. Respect for each one’s rights is the day’s mandate for the survival of the human race.
The theme of U.N. slogan for the year is “Dignity, Freedom and Justice for all”. It reminds us of Rigveda sloka “संगच्छध्वं संवदध्वं सं वो मनांसि जानताम्। देवा भागं यथा पूर्वे सञ्जानाना उपासते।. Meaning thereby take everyone together in human progress. Our basic tenet is “Bahujan Sukhaya – Bahujan Hitaya”.
While celebrating Human Rights Day, we must look back at the history of evolution and emancipation and build upon that for a better future.
The vulnerable groups suffer from slavery, servitude, forced labour, compulsory labour, human trafficking for illegal purposes and forced prostitution. Many children are forced to traffic drugs and work in drug factories. Trafficking for forced gambling and begging is also taking place. There are millions of victims of human trafficking the world over.
Human Rights are inalienable. They take place in public discourse. Courts, while interpreting the provisions, remedies violation of rights in accordance with procedure established by law. Freedom from fear, suppression and oppression is essential. The freedom of speech and expression are supreme, which has to be exercised with responsibilities while protecting the dignity of others. Fulfilment of a promise of justice on the ground level is necessary for inclusive growth. To ensure justice to all, the system has to build a homogenous and productive society. We have to create trust in institutions. Spread awareness of available legal tools even to vulnerable section.
Childhood is required to be protected. Article 31 of the Convention on Rights of the Child provides that they have the right to:
• Adequate rest and leisure,
• Engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to age,
• Active participation in culture and arts

We see discrimination against women worldwide due to social, customary and religious practices. The time has come to take care of the same by enacting legislative provisions to remove discrimination in inheritance, property rights, parental rights, domicile of married women, and legal capacity. Improving the condition of women in vulnerable sections and in rural areas is needed. To ensure equality, empowerment of women through development and proper education is essential. They cannot be made to suffer discrimination and gender violence for eternity. Without providing dignity and equal right to them, a celebration of the day is meaningless. The Supreme Court has shown the way for equality by progressive interpretations. Article 44 of the Constitution, enabling equality by enacting a Common Civil Code should not remain a dead letter.
Today we violate these rights with impunity taking false pride in putting a disproportionate burden of education during childhood. We have to get rid of child labour, child trafficking and child sexual abuse material. Commercialization of education is also a cause for concern.
We see discrimination against women worldwide due to social, customary and religious practices. The time has come to take care of the same by enacting legislative provisions to remove discrimination in inheritance, property rights, parental rights, domicile of married women, and legal capacity. Improving the condition of women in vulnerable sections and in rural areas is needed. To ensure equality, empowerment of women through development and proper education is essential. They cannot be made to suffer discrimination and gender violence for eternity. Without providing dignity and equal right to them, a celebration of the day is meaningless. The Supreme Court has shown the way for equality by progressive interpretations. Article 44 of the Constitution, enabling equality by enacting a Common Civil Code should not remain a dead letter.
The globalization has brought foreign investment; one outfall is the concentration of wealth in the hands of transnational enterprises and a few countries. Globalization has created centres of power even in competition with the power of states. Free movement of capital causes money laundering. The challenge is ensuring the right to livelihood from aggregator platforms with no investment. The majority of them are distributors. Their monopoly disrupts the global supply chain. They can change shape and location easily and are involved in anti-labour practices of hire and fire, predatory pricing and dodging taxes in gross violation of human rights. Hence, new approach should be adopted by judiciary, legislative, executive and Human Rights Institutions. Even civil society has to be vigilant.

It is necessary that safeguards in domestic regulations should be anchored in International Legal Obligations towards victims of business-related human rights violations. The terms and licensing conditions to operate must include provision for protection of human rights. We must ensure respect for human rights by multinational corporations and guard against superior bargaining power within the national legal framework. Licensing regulations must protect the interest of the national industries/businesses.
Protecting human rights is necessary while safeguarding against climate change. In the process, justice for those adversely affected has to be ensured. Alternative employment has to be planned to meet the fallout of climatic protection and the gradual reduction of greenhouse gases. Environmental and other human right activist also requires protection in various countries.

Respect for nature, flora and fauna, biodiversity, environment and ecology is our fundamental duty incorporated under Article 51A of the Constitution of India. It is well reflected in our culture and philosophy. We find the principle of sustainable development goals deeply embedded in Vedic culture.
For example, the Prithvi Sukta of Atharva Veda contains sustainable development principles that we must respect Mother Earth, its soil, sand, rocks, plants, vegetation, etc.

He further said that The development of nations is judged by human dignity, not by economic growth devoid of morals. Technological advancements should benefit human kind. Individual freedom cannot go against morality of society. This would disturb the very fabric of our society. Cyberspace is being blatantly used for criminal and immoral purposes. It is fundamental to the right to life that we live with dignity and provide the same equally to others.
India has tradition of treating शरणागत i.e. refugee with compassion. Human Rights of Refugees are sometimes criticized for being overreaching; the exercise of sovereign power and balancing is required to preserve and protect both. Though Refugees have human rights, they are to be protected as per sovereign policy.

Mr Misra said, Humanity suffers from terrorism; September 11 and November 26 are remembered as dreaded days. To combat terrorism, the Security Council adopted a resolution that it is the international obligation of the States to take measures and to cooperate against terrorism. The measures include criminalizing the collection of funds for terrorist acts and support to the terrorist. In addition, the international Convention for suppression of financing of terrorism of 1999, provides for action against financing terrorism directly or indirectly through groups under the guise of charitable, social or collateral goals. The international community must unite to take all possible measures to wipe out this scourge.
The Commission last year received 1.21 lakh complaints and decided 1.28 lakh cases including carry forward cases. The Commission recommended compensation of Rs.11.69 crore in 356 cases. In addition to 21 Advisories issued during Covid Period, the Commission has recently issued advisories on bonded labour, food security, protection of environment, commercial truck drivers, discrimination against persons with Hansen’s disease, for mechanised cleaning and providing safety gears to workers involved in cleaning of sewers and septic tanks, prevention of ocular trauma and rehabilitation of people with low vision.

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-Ashish Kumar Sinha -Editor Legally Speaking -Ram Nath Goenka awardee - 14 Years of Experience in Media - Covering Courts Since 2008