Human Rights

Human Rights

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According to the report titled: Second Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights in the Country by NHRC (2011)http://www.nhrc.nic.in/Reports/UPR-Final%20Report.pdf

Civil and political rights

• 35% of the complaints to the NHRC annually are against the police. In 2006 the Supreme Court issued seven binding directives to start reform, but little has been done, though the need is urgent.

• 9% of the complaints to the NHRC in 2010-11 were on inaction by officials or their abuse of power, confirming that laws are often not implemented or ignored.

• Custodial justice remained a problem. Jails are overcrowded and unhygienic, disease rampant and treatment poor. 67% of prisoners are under trial, either unable to raise bail or confined far longer than they should be because of the huge backlog of cases.

• There are inordinate delays in the provision of justice. 56,383 cases were pending in the Supreme Court at the end of October 2011. At the end of 2010, 4.2 million cases were pending in High Courts, and almost 28 million in subordinate courts.

• The degrading practice of manual scavenging festers on. Some States are in denial over this. The Indian Railways are the largest users of manual scavengers.

Economic, social and cultural rights

• A massive public distribution system has not assured the right to food because malnutrition is endemic. The National Advisory Council has recommended that legal entitlements to subsidized foodgrains be extended to at least 75% of the population. This is not acceptable to the Government, which sets arbitrary ceilings on the numbers who can be declared as being below the poverty line.

• The official estimate that 27.5% of the population was below the poverty line in 2004-05 grossly understates the incidence of poverty. The expert committee set up by the Planning Commission put the figure at 37.2%. Other committees set up by Ministries peg it even higher.

• Over 90% of the workforce is in the unorganized sector, has no access to social security, is particularly vulnerable in the cities, and is therefore driven into permanent debt, often leading to conditions of bonded labour.

• The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme guaranteed 100 days of work a year to any rural household that needed it. Government data showed that 56 million households applied, 55 million were given work but on average received half the wages guaranteed. The Scheme has not therefore made enough of an impact, very large sums of money have been siphoned off, and it does not provide long-term employment or build permanent assets.

• Public spending on health continues to be abysmally low, at about 1% of GDP, despite Government's commitment to raise it to 2-3%. 

• The current National Family Health Survey reports that "the percentage of children under age five years who are underweight is almost 20 times as high in India as would be expected in a healthy, well-nourished population and is almost twice as high as the average percentage of underweight children in sub-Saharan African countries.

• A huge programme called the Integrated Child Development Services was set up in 1975, but an evaluation done in 2011 for the Planning Commission found that 60% of the annual budget for supplementary nutrition was being diverted. (A study done for the NHRC confirms this.)

• The Indira Awas Yojana, set up to provide rural housing, requires that an applicant have a plot of land. Millions of landless are excluded. The scheme does not give enough to build a house, and there is some evidence that those who take the money end up in debt. 

• The NHRC, which monitors human rights in 28 representative districts across India, finds in its field visits that none of the flagship programmes function well.

The Naxal movement

• Estimates are that 200 out of the 600 districts in India are affected, though the Government puts the figure at around 60 districts.

 

According to Torture in India (2010), which has been prepared by the Asian Centre for Human Rights, http://www.achrweb.org/reports/india/torture2010.pdf:  

• Since 2000, according to the statistics submitted to the parliament by the Ministry of Home Affairs, prison custody deaths have increased by 54.02% by 2008, while police custody deaths during the same period have increased by 19.88%. In fact, under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule from 2004-2005 to 2007-2008, prison custody deaths have increased by 70.72% while police custody deaths during the same period have increased by 12.60%.

• On 8 April 2010, the Cabinet approved the decision to introduce the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010 before the parliament and ratify the UN Convention Against Torture. The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010 is being treated as a secret document. Its earlier draft, Prevention of Torture Bill, 2008, contained only three operative paragraphs relating to (1) definition of torture, (2) punishment for torture, and (3) limitations for cognizance of offences. The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2008 was highly flawed and ACHR had submitted specific recommendations to the Government of India after holding a National Conference in New Delhi in June 2009.

• In the decade 1999-2009, the Congress-National Congress Party ruled Maharashtra had the highest number of deaths (246 cases) in police custody followed by Uttar Pradesh (165 cases), Gujarat (139 cases), West Bengal (112 cases), Andhra Pradesh (99 cases), Tamil Nadu (93 cases), Assam (91 cases), Punjab (71 cases), Karnataka (69 cases), Madhya Pradesh (66 cases), Haryana (45 cases), Bihar (43 cases), Delhi (42 cases), Kerala (41 cases), Rajasthan (38 cases), Jharkhand (31 cases), Orissa (27 cases), Chhattisgarh (23 cases), Meghalaya (17 cases), Uttarakhand (16 cases), Arunachal Pradesh (15 cases), Tripura (9 cases), Goa (5 cases), Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Chandigarh (4 cases each), Pondicherry (3 cases) and Mizoram, Sikkim, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, and Andaman & Nicober Islands (1 each).

• Of the 127 police cusody deaths registered by the NHRC in 2008-2009, the highest number of cases were reported from Uttar Pradesh (24 cases) followed by Maharashtra (23), Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat (12 cases each), Assam (7 cases), Tamil Nadu and Haryana (6 cases each), Bihar and Madhya Pradesh (5 cases each), Punjab, Rajasthan & West Bengal (4 cases each), Jharkhand, Karnataka, Arunachal Pradesh, Orissa and Kerala (2 cases each), and 1 case reported from Meghalaya, Tripura, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh and Dadar & Nagar Haveli.

• The police routinely cite “suicide” as a cause of death in custody. According to the NCRB, 31 persons died by committing suicide in police custody in 2007, 24 persons in 2006 and 30 persons in 2005.

• According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), one custodial rape case was reported in India in 2007, two custodial rape cases were reported in 2006, and seven custodial rape cases in 2005.

• Among all the armed opposition groups in India, the Naxalites or Maoists are probably the worst human rights violators. In blatant disregard for the international humanitarian law, the Maoists continued to kill civilians on the allegation of being “police informers”, members of the anti-Maoist civilian militia such as “Salwa Judum” and for not obeying their diktats. The Maoists have been responsible for brutal killing of their hostages after abduction. Often the hostages are killed by slitting their throats or beheading. Often these killings were authorized by Maoist ‘people’s courts or Jan Adalats.

• The National Human Rights Commission registered 1,996 cases of torture of prisoners in 2006-2007, 2,481 cases in 2007-2008 and 1,596 cases in 2008-2009 (upto 11 December 2008).

• According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) under Ministry of Home Affairs, 1,424 prisoners died in 2006, 1,387 prisoners in 2005, 1,169 prisoners in 2004, and 1,060 prisoners in 2003 in India. Of the 1,423 prisoners who died in 2006, 80 died as a result of “unnatural” causes.

• The 2007 Annual Report of the National Crime Records Bureau reported a total of 30,031 cases - including 206 cases under the Protection of Civil Rights Act and 9,819 cases under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 – against the Scheduled Castes in 2007. Although the average charge-sheeting rate for the crimes against the SCs was 90.6 per cent, the average conviction rate was only 30.9%. A total of 51,705 persons (78.9%) out of 65,554 persons arrested for crimes committed against Scheduled Castes were charge-sheeted but only 29.4% were convicted consisting of 13,871 persons out of 47,136 persons against whom trials were completed.

• The NHRC on a number of occasions has failed to recognize torture despite medical evidence supporting allegations of torture. While considering the cases, the NHRC overly relies on official records (often reports of the security establishment) that it often ignores contrary evidence including medical records.

 



Rural Expert


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