November 17, 2023


India, the world’s largest democracy, has a rich and diverse history, but it also faces significant challenges when it comes to the protection and promotion of human rights. The country’s Constitution, adopted in 1950, provides a comprehensive framework for the protection of human rights, enshrined under Part III of the Constitution. However, the reality on the ground is often at odds with these lofty ideals. The present article aims to define what are human rights, their history and incorporation under the Indian Constitution and their status and the role played by the Supreme Court in protecting, preserving and upholding these rights.

What are Human Rights?

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, regardless of their nationality, race, religion, gender, or any other status. These rights include the right to life, liberty, and security, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many others. The concept of human rights has evolved over time and is based on the idea that all individuals are entitled to certain fundamental rights simply by virtue of being human.

The modern concept of human rights gained significant momentum after the atrocities of World War II, leading to the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1948. The UDHR was the first international document to set out fundamental human rights to be universally protected, and it has since served as the foundation for numerous international human rights treaties and conventions. The declaration consists of 30 articles that outline a wide range of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights

It is to be noted that the adoption of the UDHR marked a significant milestone in the development of human rights as a global concern.

Human Rights under the Indian Constitution

In India, human rights are enshrined in the Part III of the Constitution and are protected through Constitution itself and the judicial decisions. The Indian Constitution from Articles 14 to 32 incorporates several provisions related to human rights, including the Right to Equality, Right to Freedom, Right against Exploitation, Right to Freedom of Religion, Cultural and Educational Rights, and Right to Constitutional Remedies.

Analysis of Human Rights In India

Though guaranteeing a number of rights under Part III of the Constitution, India continues to face many challenges with respect to protecting the human rights of her people for example following are the major instances of violation of human rights.

  • Discrimination – Despite the constitutional guarantee of equality before the law, discrimination based on caste, religion, gender, and sexual orientation remains prevalent in Indian society. The caste system, Continues to marginalize and oppress millions of people, particularly those belonging to lower castes or so-called “untouchables.” While the government has implemented affirmative action policies such as reservations these measures have also been criticized for perpetuating inequality and not going far enough to address the root causes of discrimination.
  • Freedom of Speech and expression-  While Article 19 of the Constitution guarantees this right, there have been instances of censorship and restrictions on freedom of the press, particularly in conflict-affected areas and when reporting on government corruption or human rights abuses
  • Right to life and personal liberty- Extrajudicial killings, custodial deaths, and police brutality continue to be serious human rights concerns. The lack of accountability for these abuses perpetuates a culture of impunity and erodes public trust in the justice system. 
  • Women’s rights- India’s record on women’s rights is another area of concern. High rates of gender-based violence, discrimination, and unequal access to education and employment opportunities continue to hinder the full realization of women’s rights in India.

These are some pressing issues which need urgent redresal.

Supreme Court’s major judgment on human rights

Following are the major Supreme Court’s Judgments recognizing and enforcing various human rights of the citizens.

  1. Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India (2018): The Supreme Court decriminalized consensual same-sex relations between adults, recognizing the rights of LGBTQ individuals.
  2. Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan (1997): The Supreme Court laid down guidelines to prevent sexual harassment of women in the workplace, recognizing the right to a safe and harassment-free work environment.
  3.  NALSA v. Union of India (2014): The Supreme Court recognized the rights of transgender individuals and directed the government to take measures to protect and uphold their rights, including access to healthcare and employment opportunities.
  4.  Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (1978): The Supreme Court expanded the scope of the right to life and personal liberty, emphasizing that these rights are not limited to mere animal existence but encompass a meaningful and dignified life.
  5.  MC Mehta v. Union of India (1986): The Supreme Court issued several judgments related to environmental protection, emphasizing the right to a clean and healthy environment as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution.


In conclusion, while India’s Constitution provides a strong foundation for the protection of human rights, there are still significant challenges in ensuring that these rights are upheld in practice. Discrimination, censorship, police brutality, and gender inequality continue to be major obstacles to the full realization of human rights for all citizens. The government and civil society must work together to address these issues and create a more just and equitable society for all. Only then can India truly live up to its promise as a democratic nation that respects and protects the rights of all its people.

Significance of the Topic

Issue of the violation of human rights is a major challenge that India is facing and which needs to be addressed urgently. The topic also has a direct link with the Constitution. Therefore, judiciary coaching suggests that the judiciary aspirants must have a good knowledge and understanding of the topic. Also, according to the judiciary coaching the topic must be prepared with the perspective of essays.

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