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Universal Periodic Review, 2012, India
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  GE.12- 11685 Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review Thirteenth session Geneva, 21 May–4 June 2012 National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 16/21 * India * The present document has been reproduced as received. Its content does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations.   United Nations A  /HRC/WG.6/13/IND/1  General Assembly Distr.: General 8 March 2012 Original: English  A/HRC/WG.6/13/IND/1 2   I. Introduction 1. As the largest democracy in the world, Indian polity weaves immense diversity into the fabric of a civilizational ethos of tolerance, respect and mutual understanding. India is home to 1.2 billion people. India has a very large population of Hindus (80% of the population), Muslims (13.4% i.e 138 million), and a great many followers of other faiths, including Christians (2.3% i.e. 24 million), Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and others. India has 22 scheduled languages, but more than 1,650 dialects are spoken across the country. 2. Twenty-eight States and seven Union Territories constitute India into a federal polity. There are 640 Districts and 640,867 villages in India. India is also the most representative democracy where, in a unique feature, there are over 3 million elected local representatives in the Panchayats, which are the units of local self-government at the village level, out of which around 1 million elected local representatives are women. Elections at regular intervals reinforce the democratic polity of the country. 3. The Constitution of India has ensured through its Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy that India remains a multi-religious, multi-cultural, multi-linguistic, multi-ethnic and secular democracy. The secular backbone to India’s socio-economic development has been vital in India’s continued progress. India’s approach towards protection and promotion of human rights has been characterised by a holistic, inclusive and multi-pronged effort. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has observed “India’s struggle for social and economic transformation of its 1.2 billion strong population in the framework of an open society and a democratic polity, committed to respect fundamental human rights and the rule of law has no parallel in history. Our success in accomplishing this gigantic task could have great significance for the evolution of human kind in this twenty first century of ours.” II. Methodology 4. In the preparation of the India Report under the Universal Periodic Review, the General Guidelines for the preparation of information have been followed broadly.   5. The process has been broad and inclusive involving concerned Ministries and Departments of the Government of India, including Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Ministry of Minority Affairs, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ministry of Law and Justice, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, and Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD). Planning Commission has also been consulted. 6. Consultations were held with the stakeholders consisting of several non-governmental organisations and experts involved in human rights related activities. In addition, the Government also participated in the consultations held by the National Human Rights Commission in all parts of the country. The draft UPR - II was also posted on the website for comments prior to its finalisation. A National Report has thus evolved, reflecting this extensive consultation process. The Action Taken Report on recommendations on UPR 2008 is at Annexure I .  A/HRC/WG.6/13/IND/1 3 III. Background to fundamental rights and their impact on legislative and regulatory framework 7. India is not only the largest democracy, but is also distinguished by a vibrant and evolving Constitutional system which is founded on the recognition of human rights placed in the forefront of the Constitution, viz Part III and has taken root in the ethos of the nation. The spirit underlying the Chapter on Fundamental Rights in Part III of the Constitution and the Directive Principles of the State Policy in Part IV of the Constitution is the recognition and the need to balance the immense diversity of India with the imperative of maintaining the fabric of civilization and progress, coupled with tolerance, respect, mutual understanding, and recognition of the importance of human life and individual rights. Foremost among these are measures for the removal and eradication of inequality. 8. The Chapter on human rights has undergone a revolutionary interpretative evolution at the hands of the Supreme Court (fully supported by the Government), as a result of which new vistas have emerged around the dynamic content of human rights. To illustrate a few, India has broadened the traditional narrow approach towards equality and proceeded on the basis of a positive mandate to eradicate backwardness in any form, social, economic and educational. Similarly, the freedoms under Article 19 have been given a wide connotation as, for instance, the expansion of the freedom of speech and expression to include the right to obtain information. The Right to life and Personal Liberty in Article 21 has now come to encompass the right to a clean environment, right to legal aid, elimination of bonded labour, right to livelihood, right to speedy and fair trial, and right to education, amongst various other rights. 9. This National Report seeks to identify various steps taken by India in the ongoing effort of making fundamental human rights real and meaningful. A summary of some important judicial pronouncements which have enabled this progressive evolution of the fundamental rights incorporated in the Constitution is at Annexure II . 10. In recent years, India has taken several important initiatives aimed at securing human rights, including the following: ã   In 2010, in a unique development and to ensure citizens their right to live with dignity in a healthy environment, the National Green Tribunal Act was enacted providing for effective legal protection for environment, forests and other natural resources. ã   In the same year, the Government introduced in Parliament the Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill covering both organized and unorganized sectors. ã   In 2009, the Right to Education Act was enacted, which introduced a new fundamental right for free and compulsory education of children in a neighbourhood school. ã   In 2008, a Constitutional amendment bill was introduced in Parliament to reserve for women nearly one-third of seats in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) and the state legislative assemblies for a period of 15 years. The Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) passed this bill in 2010. It is currently in the Lok Sabha. ã   In 2007, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) was established to ensure that all legislative and administrative measures are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  A/HRC/WG.6/13/IND/1 4   ã   The Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 rests forest rights and occupation with forest dwelling tribals and other forest dwellers. ã   In 2005, the landmark Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was passed and the programme launched in 2006 to confer livelihood right on the poor. ã   The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 came into force in 2006. ã   During 2005, the historic Right to Information Act (RTI) was enacted. 11. As mentioned earlier, the judiciary has been a major catalyst for change, including through its Public Interest Litigation for protection against grave violation of human rights. The Judiciary has also ensured that, even if India has not signed or ratified any particular international instrument/protocol, cognizance of these is taken through its various  judgments. 12. The establishment of an autonomous National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Act reflects our continuing commitment for effective implementation of human rights. Wide powers and functions have been given to the NHRC. State Human Rights Commissions (SHRCs) have been set up in 20 states. During the year 2010-11 99,185 cases were registered for consideration in NHRC and it disposed of 87,568 cases. During the said period, the Commission recommended payment of monetary relief in 583 cases amounting to Rs. 198,655,500. For e.g. in Jaywant P. Sankpal v. Suman Gholap (AIR 2010 SC 208), the Supreme Court upheld the award of compensation by the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission for use of excessive force by police. 13. The Constitution has vested in the Election Commission of India the superintendence, direction and control of the entire process for conduct of elections to Parliament and Legislature of every State and to the offices of President and Vice-President of India. The Election Commission of India is a permanent Constitutional Body and has, over the decades, ensured free and fair elections. 14. The Comptroller and Auditor General is a Constitutional authority with powers to oversee and audit the accounts of the entire Government of India. Transparency and good governance 15. The Government has taken following recent far-reaching steps to ensure transparency in governance: 1. Right to Information Act 16. To increase transparency in the functioning of Government and accountability in public life, and expanding the ambit of Article 19(1)(a) on the Freedom of Speech and Expression, the Government brought forward the historic Right to Information Act, 2005. The Act has a wide reach, covering the Central and State Governments, Panchayati Raj Institutions, local bodies, as well as recipients of Government grants. It has given citizens access to information.
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