Wednesday, December 6, 2023

NHRC Chairperson Justice Arun Mishra stresses on need-based distributive justice, says no one should be deprived of rights due to socio-economic conditions

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Chairperson of National human Rights Commission (NHRC), Justice Arun Mishra on Wednesday stressed on ensuring need-based distributive justice for people, pointing out that no one should be deprived of rights due to socio-economic conditions and personal beliefs.

Speaking during the 28th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and biennial conference of Asia Pacific Forum at the Plenary Hall of Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, the NHRC Chairperson said the concentration of wealth in a few hands globally was causing a brooding sense of injustice. 

He said there was an acute need for the inclusion of marginalised and other disadvantaged segments of society in the gains of globalisation and that inequality in income and wealth was attributed mainly to hi-tech aggregation platforms. 

Most of them were not producers of the goods, but mere distributors. Their monopoly was disrupting the global supply chain and posed challenges to the producers and distributors, apart from small and medium retailers worldwide. They were also involved in unfair labour practices violating human rights, he added. 

As per Justice Mishra, India had a history of more than 5000 years, comprising ethos, compassion, empathy and human dignity as its core values. He said inspired by the culture and ethos of the country, the Constitution makers incorporated these values in the Constitution of India. 

In the same spirit, India pioneered the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission as a statutory body in 1993. The motto of the Commission was ‘Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah,’ which meant let everybody be happy, he added.

Noting that human rights were moral, pre-legal rights, which could neither be granted nor taken away, the NHRC Chairperson said that every law was required to be compliant with human rights. 

He said the Commission was committed to upholding the dignity and rights of every human in the vast Asia-Pacific region with diverse cultures, languages, traditions and religions. NHRC was entrusted with the noble task of upholding the human rights of those who could not fight for their rights, he added.

Talking about the challenges of disparities, which persisted in the society and the injustices that continued to afflict the people in many ways, Justice Mishra said everyone cherished the value of equality, freedom and justice. 

In that spirit, it was important to protect human rights as well as provide expeditious and speedy machinery for the redressal of grievances. 

He said the big businesses involved in hazardous business activity need to be accountable for human rights. After the worst gas tragedy in Bhopal in 1984, the hazardous debris still awaited removal. The delay was causing contamination of groundwater and soil. Business houses must be responsible for processing waste and removing debris from their premises. Stringent safety measures and liability were necessary to prevent the recurrence of such incidents, he added. 

The right of freedom of profession, business, trade and occupation, including the right to property and intellectual property, are to be respected. However, they are subject to limitations and restrictions in the public interest. The intervention of regulatory bodies, particularly in pricing life-saving drugs, medicines, vaccines and medical devices, is necessary for protecting the right to health, which is part of the right to life.   

Consumers were to be protected against unrealistic price extraction. Every packed product should reflect MRP. Pricing must co-relate with the cost of production, which consumers must know.  

The right to livelihood is part of the right to life. We must ensure that workers involved in various economic activities are provided humane working conditions. For the tribals who live in remote and forest areas, their customary rights must be respected. Unfair trade practices, too, violate human rights. Overuse of fertilisers and impermissible pesticides damages soil, water and health and creates intergenerational issues. 

In every country, to improve the quality of life of their citizens, the governments are pursuing wealth creation in economic activities. However, we must ensure that we do not cause permanent damage to the environment, nature, water bodies, flora and fauna. Our moral duty is to ensure that future generations do not pay the price for our actions or omissions.

He said humans were already paying the price due to environmental damage and climate change. Unfortunately, nature’s fury always impacts the weakest. Today, erratic rainfall, prolonged drought leading to forest fires, and high-intensity cyclones are playing havoc with lives and livelihoods. 

Water and air pollution must be addressed. Prevention of deforestation and increasing forest cover are necessary for the survival of mankind. The comity of nations came together and decided to improve the quality of people’s lives by agreeing to Sustainable Development Goals, which are to be achieved by 2030.

He stressed on practising the culture of “recycle, reuse and reduce” for inter-generational equity.

Noting that the proliferation of cyberspace has created challenges for human rights, like hacking, dark web, fraud, and human trafficking, Justice Mishra said the children have become more vulnerable to such threats, citing the example of  Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM). 

He said the NHRC India recently held a conference on the issue of CSAM stressing on evolving  better mechanisms to monitor and combat the misuse of cyberspace.     

Blocking CSAM and malicious content required the big players on the internet to be sensitive and proactive in protecting the human rights of marginalised sections by identifying and taking down offensive content, he added. 

Earlier, President Droupadi Murmu inaugurated the two-day conference of National Human Rights Institutions of the Asia Pacific Region at the Plenary Hall of Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.

The inaugural session of the National Human Rights Institutions of the Asia Pacific Region conference kickstarted at 11:00 am with the Annual General Meeting (AGM), 2023.

At 12:30, a seminar was held by NHRC, India on ‘Business and Human Rights’. The seminar was divided into two thematic sessions – ‘Harmonising climate change, human rights and business,’ and ‘Advancing human rights in business and industry.’ 

A Biennial Conference will be held tomorrow as part of the event, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) and 30 years of National Human Rights Institutions and the Paris Principles, with a sub-theme on the environment and climate change.

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