The Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar Academy of International Studies organized a panel discussion on “India’s National Report to the UN Human Rights Council” at the Academy’s Hu Chi Minh Conference Hall on Tuesday Nov. 20, 2012.
Besides the director of the Academy, T.C.A. Rangachari, and the panel convener Prof. Jamal M. Moosa, the other three panelists where Ravi Nair, the Director of South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre (SAHRDC); S. Pal, Member of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC); and Prof. A.R. Vijapur, Department of Political Science, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
There is a need to look to what extent the human rights guaranteed either by the Constitution or law are enjoyed, and how the Indian State presents them, said T.C.A. Rangachari, in his inaugural remarks.
Rejection by the Indian government of many of the recommendations of HR Council was largely discussed by all panelists and participants. In his keynote address, Mr. Pal said that India was needlessly defensive about the recommendations. He said, law itself was not a problem; problem is the implementation of law in India. While describing countries like Bahrain, Indonesia, Morocco, and South Africa which had accepted most of the HR recommendations he lamented that it was rather unfortunate posture of India before the international community to reject most of the recommendations.
Speaking on this occasion, Mr. Nair criticized the lukewarm response of the civil society and academia for failing to do their homework properly. On the issue of justice, Nair raised the issue of Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code brought in by the British to protect its officials and demanded accountability of officers guilty of illegal framing and arrests of innocent people.
Nair said that the national process of accountability was very weak in India. While raising the issue of refugees and migrations, he said that the government was only pointing to illegal migrations which involved Muslims. How about Hindus and Buddhists? he asked. Selective treatment of Muslims by police and judiciary was discussed in good length. Nair said that the number of arrests of Muslim youths taking place in India was scandalous. While suggesting to include the legislature and the parliament for their stake, he said that India had pledged a National Action Plan on HR but had not done it.
Universal Periodic Review System (UPRS) discussed by every UN member has also become political, said Prof. Vijapur. Our record of submitting reports is dismal. They present rosy pictures and do not reflect the ground realities, he said.
Raising the question of long-pending cases in Indian courts, Prof. Vijapur, who is also chairman of AMU’s Department of Political Science, said that more than 3 crore cases were pending in different courts of the country. He demanded reduction of court fees which was causing great inconvenience. Raising the concern over illegal detentions, he said that India’s security establishment was more powerful than Caesar (read State). The issue of atrocities on Dalits has not been addressed. Some issues are raised by media and society without substance. Polygamous marriage is one of them. He said it was not Muslims but Jains who had more than one wife.
Many faculty members and a good number of research students of the Academy attended the discussion and participated in it.