Institutional Framework in India
In India, till the enactment of Protection of Human Rights Act in the year 1993, human rights were not defined in laws. This Act, defines human rights as the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India. There is a separate Chapter titled Fundamental Rights in the Constitution of India which contains six types of rights. They are the right to equality, Right to freedom, Right against exploitation, Right to freedom of Religion, Cultural and Educational Rights and Right to Constitutional remedies. Some of the rights in the right to freedom include Right to freedom of speech and Expression, Right to assemble peacefully, Right to form associations, Right to move freely throughout the territory of India, Right to reside and settle in any part of India and right to practice any profession, or occupation.
It should be noted that a legal proceeding for human rights violations could be initiated only against Public Servants. This legal action may be taken either by the victims themselves or by any person on their behalf in the District Human Rights Court. Alternately, state human Rights Commission at Chennai or the National Human Rights Commission at New Delhi can be approached.
If the victims or their relations wish to prosecute the offender, Human Rights Court at the District level is the appropriate forum.
(NOTE: – Availability of Human Rights Courts should be verified by the readers in their home- State in India).
If the victims prefer to claim compensation for the injuries suffered, the State or National Human Rights Commissions can be approached.
Simultaneous proceedings before the Human Rights Courts and the Human Rights Commissions are therefore possible.