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India: A human rights mirage

| A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

( December 10, 2014, Hong Kong SAR, Sri Lanka Guardian) In the absence of thorough justice institution reforms, human rights guarantees in India will remain a mirage. The transcendent principles of dignity, freedom, and equality to all enshrined in the Constitution and the interpretations that the courts and the Parliament have provided to these foundational human rights norms require a functioning justice institution framework to breathe life into these principles.

Purposeful neglect of the police to register cases, the inability of the Indian state to impartially and promptly investigate crimes and complaints, acute politicisation of the prosecutions that have rendered the prosecutor's office a disgrace to the justice process, and shameful delays that the Indian Judiciary is infamous for have resulted in the justice process in India having itself become a form of torture. The Chief Justice of India, Justice Handyala Lakshminarayanaswamy Dattu, also shares this opinion.

Ensuring fundamental human rights to all persons within its jurisdiction is the responsibility of the state. This responsibility cannot be postponed or restricted, citing national security, expenses, and the absence of consensus as excuses. Elementary to this is the establishment of a functioning justice institution framework. In the Indian context, where poverty is omnipresent, affecting more than 60% of the population, without a functioning justice institution framework there can be no end to malnutrition and starvation deaths.

What is lacking in India is the protection that the state must provide to its citizens. The guarantee that there will not be unjustified discrimination, that no one's freedom will be hindered, and that the dignity of all persons will be respected and ensured requires a protection framework that the state alone can ensure.

Unfortunately, this is not the Indian state's priority.

December 10 is observed globally as the International Human Rights Day. This year too celebrations will be held across the country, boasting India's achievements in safeguarding human rights. Speeches will be made, where India, as the largest democracy of the world, will be touted to have taken a leading role to champion human rights globally.

Unfortunately, what will not be spoken and understood is that the possibility of casting a vote once in every five years is not what democracy is all about. Democracy is about equality, dignity, and freedom, which the Indian state has systematically denied to 60% of its people for the past six decades.

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About AHRC:The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.