Concept of human rights is as old as the ancient concept
of natural rights based on natural law. The expression
“human rights” is of recent origin emanating
from international charters and conventions especially
in the Post Second World War.
But these rights had been recognized and respected by
all religions in the ancient India.
be found that the Rig Veda cites three rights as basic
human rights, namely, Body, Dwelling place and Life.
The Maha Bharata speaks about the importance of freedoms
of individuals in a state. It also sanctions revolt
against the king who is oppressive and fails to perform
his functions of protection.
Sanghita, Manu developed three notions of Civil, Legal
and Economic rights. Buddhism and Jainism emphasized
the principles of equality and non-violence.
rulers even formulated rules for the protection of women
and children during war. Emperor Akbar took certain
measures for the protection of the rights of the citizens.
However, the first serious move was initiated by the
U N General Assembly in December 1948 to protect human
rights by adopting “Universal Declaration of Human
Rights”. The declaration reaffirms that all persons
must be able to enjoy their basic fundamental rights
in all situations – during peace time, during
emergency and in the times of armed conflicts. But this
declaration was operated merely as a statement of pious
ideals, not legally binding since it had no mechanism
for its enforcement. This short coming was sought to
be removed by adopting two more international instruments
in December 1966 e.g. (i) The international covenant
on Civil and Political rights (ii) The international
covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights. An
additional protocol was adopted in the former cases.
The first instrument specified legally enforceable rights
of the individual and the second one was directed to
the states to implement them by legislations.
heartening to note that the Constitution of India contains
all these rights as fundamental rights in Part iii and
the rest could be found in Part iv.
India enacted different pieces of legislations and initiated
effective measures against the violators to protect
and preserve human rights of the individuals, some NGOs,
notably the Amnesty International, a UK based NGO, started
hue and cry against such legislations and measures.
in order to stop this canard and adverse criticism of
these NGOs and the growing concern in the country and
abroad about issues relating to human rights and the
nature of crime and violence committed by persons, the
Government of India had begun reviewing the efficacy
of the existing laws, procedures and system of administration
a view to bringing about greater accountability and
transparency and devising efficient and effective methods
of dealing with the violation of human rights, after
wide ranging discussions at various fora such as Chief
Ministers’ Conference on “Human Rights,
Seminars organized in various parts of the country and
meetings with leaders of various political parties,
the Bill on the Protection of Human Rights was brought
before Parliament. This bill has eventually seen the
light of the day on 8th January 1994 in the shape of
“The Protection of Human
Rights Act, 1993.