Human rights in India is an issue complicated by the country's large size, its tremendous diversity, its status as a developing country and a sovereign, secular, democratic republic. The Constitution of India provides for Fundamental rights, which include freedom of religion. Clauses also provide for Freedom of Speech, as well as separation of executive and judiciary and freedom of movement within the country and abroad.
In India the idea of human rights is not a contribution of western countries. These rights are a common heritage of glorious past. Of course, the enjoyment of these rights was not open to all segments of the society. There was no uniform application of these freedoms as the society was a caste-ridden hierarchical one. Throughout the period of liberation movement, Indians fought for the protection of their human rights such as political freedom and right of self-determination.
After independence, the constitution of India was formulated with a guarantee of fundamental rights and freedom. In conformity with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, Part III of the Indian Constitution provides six types of Fundamental Rights. All citizens are made equal in the enjoyment of rights and opportunities. At the same time special care is taken for protecting the interests of the weaker sections of the society through the policy of protective discrimination. There is reservation of seats for these weaker sections in the legislature and employment in government jobs.
The Constitution of India not only provides six fundamental rights to citizens but also has made them enforceable. The cases of the violation of human rights are alleged to be plenty which have taken different forms in different times. The examples are communal violence, caste rivalry, starvation death, exploitation of workers, domestic violence, custodian violence, sexual violence, social discrimination etc. For the eradication of this violence’s, a democratic polity, parliamentary form of government and an impartial and independent judiciary have been established.
India has been committed to ensure the protection and preservation of these rights. Judiciary has been separated from the executive. With the power of judicial review, the Supreme Court is empowered to strike down any law of the legislature and any order of the executive if they violate the fundamental rights of the people.
With the right to constitutional remedies, a citizen can move to court for getting the enforcement of the fundamental rights. For the eradication of poverty, hunger, disease, unemployment, illiteracy etc., India is committed to realize economic development through socio-economic planning. It has adopted the principle of economic liberalisation and world economy with its New Economic Policy of 1991 and has become the member of World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995.
Since 1980s, new types of mechanisms have been evolved for the protection of human rights of the poor, exploited and other disadvantaged groups of people. The system of free legal aid for the poor, the creation of Fast Track Courts and Special Courts for the speedy trial of cases, and the system of Public Interest Litigation are designed for the protection of the rights of the people.
The Supreme Court of India is recognizing Public Interest Litigations to a great extent. It enables social activists and conscious citizens to appeal for the protection of the human rights of the weaker sections of the society. The judiciary has been activated with these Public Interest Litigations and directing various governmental and private bodies to ensure the rights of the people. The Judiciary also orders for the appointment of Inquiry Commissions to investigate and report regarding the cases of violation of human rights.