21 April, 2021

Mind The Gap

A smorgasbord of rights violations is aided by the dysfunctionality of legislatures. Dispiritingly, the Supreme Court is unable to enforce its own enlightened judgments in favour of individual rights against the state.

Art: Jahnobi Das
Mind The Gap

In his book The Age of Rights, Prof. Louis Henkin, a celebrated scholar of international law, had claimed that “human rights is the idea of our time, the only political–moral idea that has received universal acceptance”. Viewed in the light of several international treaties and democratic constitutions which recognise the inviolability of human rights, the claim is valid. But whether democracies across the world have, in fact, delivered on the promise of a world order founded on human rights is another matter. An objective analysis of the situation in our country regrettably belies the lofty claim.

The disquieting conclusion flows from a distressing institutional response to the egregious infraction of human rights, raising a profoundly important question about the functioning of our democratic institutions in the advancement of constitutional goals. Repeated abuse of several stringent laws with punitive consequences, including the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, is predicated on a reversal of the presumption of innocence in favour of the...

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