“World Human Rights Day raises hopes and not despair among the oppressed”- Biswsjit Das, District Judge

Report by Badal Tah; Rayagada: Chairing and addressing the session on World Human Rights Day observed in DRDA Conference Hall, Sri  Biswsjit Das, District Judge mesmerised a gathering of very senior executives like SP-Rayagada, Sub-Collector-Rayagada, Sub-Collector-Gunupur, PD-DRDA, Additional SPs and other senior police officers, BDOs & Tehsildars, senior judges of the district court alongwith Secretary District Legal Services Authority, President & Secretary of Bar Association and senior advocates, etc by saying that perhaps this was the first time in India where a conscious and concerted effort was being made to bring senior luminaries from executive and judiciary as law enforcing authorities in a tribal hinterland like Rayagada.

“Concept of Human Rights is not new and in Indian paradigm, it existed since ancient age of puranas and for that matter time immemorial since the evolution of human beings. Form a layman’s perspective, various examples from Mahabharat citing Krisna and Judhisthira, the initial propounders of human rights, can be cited. Though the systems created to carry out the mechanisms of the institutions are not foolproof, those institutions by themselves can not be blamed. Rather individuals in charge of those institutions are responsible for systemic aberrations. Through these institutions justice must not appear to be done but must reach out to the oppressed people and the objective of this congregation and synthesis on this auspicious World Human Rights Day must realise this primary objective. During ancient time, people revolted against the oppression of the Monarch. French revolution and revolution under the leadership of Karl Marx are two classic examples against inhuman torture. This was a struggle against the king to pressurize him to treat his subjects as ‘human beings’. That’s why Emperor Asohk resolved to win with heart and mind of the people rather than killing them. We must reflect whether we have rendered ‘real’ justice to the needy even after seventy years of independence and in spite of several progressive legislations enshrined in our constitution. We still have miles to go before we sleep”, said Sri Das.

Sri Prabir Nayak, Sub-Collector, Rayagada deliberated on Human Rights Act promulgated in 1993 and espoused upon economic, socio-cultural, civil and political rights. Though in a progressing trend, we are yet to absolutely eliminate child and bonded labourers under the concerned acts and provide food for all under food rights act. We still have to work on manual scavenging and human trafficking in spite of revolutionary regulations enacted through a constitutional process.

Sri Amrit Ruturaj, IAS, Sub-Collector, Gunupur expressed the difficulty in delving into several articles pertaining to human rights acts and rules; but emphasized that human being is not under any codified constitution. There is a synchronization between human rights and democracy. Sensitivity to rights of all genders including LGBT(lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) and feminism is need of the hour. Democracy is the best form of governance protecting human rights to keep us in harmony and lead to redistribution of resources, said Ruturaj.

Sri Rudra Prasad Mahapatra, Sr.Civil Judge elaborated on the dilemmas faced while delivering justice. Citing an example of a terrorist who has a right to life enshrined in the constitution and a jailor’s duty to hang him till death may create a conflict; but for a larger cause and for maximum pleasure in the society, our constitution is crystal clear where jailor’s duty will prevail over the terrorist’s rights and death penalty is justified in the constitution. A dead person of all religions has also human rights like where and how the body will be placed. Apart from legal rights we do also have moral rights. Nevertheless a base point identification is a sine qua non to reach to a conclusion of violation of human or moral rights, said Sri Mohapatra.

Dr.Indu Sharma, Registrar of the district court expressed concern regarding children’s rights which, according to her, were crushed from the moment of conception in mothers’ womb through several foeticide processes like medical termination. Parents put lot of pressure on the children to excel in society as per their expectations. Development of children are at stake as major chunk of population violate the existing acts. Child sexual abuse starts from home itself. We need to be sensitive and empathetic towards children during trial and should not have a criminal aromatic atmosphere. Children engaged by Govt officials to do house-chore work is certainly questionable. In stead of ‘Chalti Ka Naam Gadi’ and symptomatic treatment, feeling for the children and reaching them out is the need of the hour, Said Dr.Sharma.

Sri Madhusudan Mishra, PD, DRDA eulogised the freedom fighters for their struggle against Simon Commission and British in restoring human rights for Indians. Recently there are several progressive legislations to further human rights of the aggrieved and underprivileged like Right to Education Act(RTE), Right to Information Act(RTI), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act(MGNREGA), Forest Rights Act, POCSO, Prevention of Atrocities Act, Sexual Harassment Act, Bonded & Child Labour Abolition Act, etc though there are intrinsic normal aberrations in a country inhabited by a population of 120 crores. According to Mishra, if this congregation has been held in Winter, Spring can not be far behind meaning there is a steady progress in realisation of human rights through constitutional entitlements.

“State has intervened upto some extent to make the human rights accessible to the citizens. Different reforms have brought in to end Police Raj. In fact, delivery of police service has been provided as a helping hand. Integrating women police force into the system reflects the sensitivity of this institution towards child and women issues. If one notices the recent violation graph, it is clear that there are more suicides than homicides. Are we ethically correct when we, as most enlightened and unique, only talk about the human rights of homo sapiens ? Rampant violence against other species like plants and animals is a point of concern. Human right concept is subjective. Is it a great concept or euphemism leading to hypocrisy ? Freedom fighters were also branded as terrorists. A non-believer of human rights has also human rights. As a state, do we believe in human rights ? According to the German sociologist Max Weber a state is defined by monopoly over the use of violence. As it goes in the society, one of the important violators is police who does arbitrary arrest, is instrumental in custodian death, etc. It is an irony that violence is more in so called developed and most literate western world. We have not strengthened the state mechanisms to protect human rights. How can a policeman be sensitive by working 15-16 hours a day and seven days a week ? We have failed as a state as far as police reforms are concerned. Is our community sensitive to Human Rights ? There are conflicts between legislated human rights and practice. Mutual settlement in criminal justice system is taking place. Heinous crime like rape cases are compromised in village panchayats apparently fighting for human rights. Legislation should be in tandem with time”, said Sri Rahul P R, IPS, SP, Rayagada.

Sri Hrushikesh Sahu, Secretary, DLSA moderated the entire event and cited several articles pertaining to constitutional legislations on human rights. Advocate Sri Samuel Tandi, mediator of DLSA extended vote of thanks.