“To deny people their human rights is tochallenge their very humanity.” – Nelson MandelaHumanbeings are unique, and need to be respected in their uniqueness. It is thedemand of human dignity that a person’s individuality and uniqueness areconserved. It basically implies that if a person cannot grow and develop as anindividual, then there has been an attack on his humanity.Thereare ancient texts in the different religions which talk about the sanctity ofhuman rights. In Hinduism, the ancient text of Mahabharata talks about human rights in the form of adhikaar (rights).
Theconcept of human rights as seen in the Judeo-Christian tradition is by thestate of grace that gives all human beings inherent worth.Itwas during the era of renaissance humanism that the concept of modern humanrights came into existence. The civil wars of 18th century Englandand the European war of religion gave rise to the thought of liberalism and itbecame the centerpiece in Europe during the Age of Enlightenment. The idea of’human rights’ though, can find its roots in the French1 and American revolution.It is an irony that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a consequenceof the II World War.Allhuman beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowedwith reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit ofbrotherhood.2Human rights are the rights a person has simply because he or she is a humanbeing.
3″Human rights recognize the inherent value of each person, regardless ofbackground, where we live, what we look like, what we think or what we believe.They are based on principle of dignity, equality and mutual respect, which areshared across cultures, religions and philosophies. They are about beingtreated fairly, treating others fairly and having the ability to make genuinechoices in our daily lives.”4 HUMANRIGHTS IN INDIAHumanrights in India is a complex issue.
Its complexity arises out of its tremendousdiversity, its large size and its status as a developing nation. Fundamentalrights are guaranteed to the citizens of India which includes the freedom ofreligion. The country has bodies to look into issues of human rights as well aguardian in the form of an independent judiciary.
Eventhough all these competent authorities have been created with a view to curbhuman rights violations in India , the 2016 report of Human Rights Watch statesthat India has some “serious human rights concerns”.5 Between2010 and 2015, 591 people died in police custody.6 Government critics facelawsuits and intimidation and civil society groups face harassment. Freedom ofspeech has also been restricted unjustifiably. It is the duty of every nationto safeguard the basic human rights of its citizens. India has a long way togo, to achieve human rights in its truest sense.Universality:The essence of human rightsTheterm ‘Human Rights’ suggests the rights of all human beings anywhere anyanytime.7 The present day chiefarticulation of human rights, the UDHR claims and prescribes universality.
Thismeans that a human right is available to every human being irrespective of hisrace, religion, nationality etc. though there might be restrictions to theparticular right such as in the case of prisoners.Conceptof prisonThe OnlineMerriam-Webster English dictionary defines prison as, “A place of confinementespecially for lawbreakers; specifically : an institution (suchas one under state jurisdiction) for confinement of persons convicted ofserious crimes.” 8Any gaol or place used permanently or temporarily under the orders of a stategovernment for detention of prisoners, under section 417 of Cr.P.C, 1973.
9 A person who has been putin confinement in a prison is called a prisoner. A prisoner can also be calledan inmate deprived of his liberty. In India, “Prison” comes under State Subjectin List II of the seventh schedule to the constitution of India. Thus, theprimary authority and responsibility to change the rules and regulationsassociated with prisons lies with the State Government.Non-violence, mutualrespect and human dignity are the three pillars upon which the Indiansocio-legal system is based.
Even after committing a crime, a person does notper say stop being a human and the Government has a duty to safeguard hisdignity and rights.Human Rights to theincarcerated1. Internationalguidelines and obligationsThechief treaty with regards to safeguarding the human rights of prisoners remainsThe International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The covenantwas ratified by India in 1979, and it entrusts India to include the principlesstated therein in its state practice and domestic laws. The ICCPR states thatprisoners have a right to the highest attainable standard of mental andphysical health.10Beforethe arrival of the ICCPR, the United Nations set down standard rules andregulations for the treatment of prisoners in 1955. It states that the prisonerwill not face any prejudice on the grounds of, colour, race, language, sex,religion, social or national origin, political or other opinion, property,birth or other status.
birthor other status. At the same time there is a strong need for respecting thereligiousbeliefand moral precepts of the group to which a prisoner belongs. The UN standardrules made it mandatory to have separate institutions for men and women,undertrials and prisoners detained under civil law and criminal offences.2.
HumanRights to prisoners in India : Present conditions and prevailing problemsSincetime immemorial, the usage of torture techniques has been predominant in India.Due to the fact that there has been no inspection of such techniques, it hasbecome a ‘legitimate’ and ‘normal’ practice all over the nation. Torture isinflicted not only upon the complainants or informants and accused but also onbona fide petitioners, in the name of investigating crimes, punishingindividuals and extracting confessions. They undergo treatment which is grosslyderogatory to the individual dignity of the person. Inthe case of Joginder Kumar v. State of UP and Ors.11, the Hon’ble Supreme Courtof India by requoting Mr. Fyodor Dostoevsky said that “The degree ofcivilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.
Human rightsis an eternally expanding subject.” The court further added, “At the same thetime, the crime rate is also increasing. the court has been receiving complaintsabout violation of human rights because of indiscriminate arrests. A realisticapproach should be made in this direction. The law of arrest is one ofbalancing individual rights, liberties and privileges, on one hand andindividual duties obligations and responsibilities on the other; of weighingand balancing the rights, liberties and privileges of the single individual andthose of individuals collectively; of simply deciding what is wanted and whereto put the weight and the emphasis; of deciding which comes first – thecriminal or society, the law violator or the law abider.
“Inthe case of Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration, the Hon’ble Supreme Court ofIndia, said that the hands-off doctrine does not apply to prisoners in Indiaand ruled that fundamental rights do not flee the as he enters the prison,although they may suffer shrinkage.1 France:Declaration of the Right of Man and the Citizen , 26 August 1789, available at:http://www.
refworld.org/docid/3ae6b52410.html accessed 16 January 20182Art 1, UN General Assembly, Universal Declaration of Human Rights,10 December 1948, 217 A (III), available at:http://www.refworld.
org/docid/3ae6b3712c.html accessed 16 January 20183 Adapted from Pam Costain,”Moving the Agenda Forward,” Connection to the Americas 14.8 (October1997): 4. Human RightsEducators’ NetworkAmnestyInternational USAHumanRights Resource CenterISBN0-929293-39-8FirstEdition, 1998; Second Printing, 19994 Australian Human Rights Commission5 6 Accordingto the National Crime Records Bureau, between 2010 and 2015, 591 people died inpolice custody.
7 JOURNALARTICLEThe Universality of the Concept of Human RightsLouis HenkinThe Annals of the American Academy of Political andSocial ScienceVol. 506, Human Rights around the World (Nov., 1989),pp. 10-16Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. inassociation with the AmericanAcademy of Political and Social ScienceStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1046650Page Count: 7 8 MerriamWebster 9MODEL PRISON MANUALFOR THESUPERINTENDENCE ANDMANAGEMENTOFPRISONS IN INDIA 10Art 1011