PUCL Bulletin, April 2004

Panorama of human rights issues

–By V.R. Krishna Iyer

HUMAN RIGHTS — Perspectives and Challenges: Justice Rajindar Sachar; Gyan Publishing House, 5, Ansari Road, Daryagunj, New Delhi-110002. Rs. 540/-.

I REGARD myself lucky in receiving a copy of an excellent book on human rights by Justice Rajindar Sachar. It is luminous and voluminous and heavy and weighty. I am repetitive in my adjectives and happy in my emphasis because the book deserves delicate tributes and delectable nuances.
Sachar is a great scholar; his experience as a judge and jurist earns his work finer praise. His age with every yellow page of life makes his learning add to the range so large.

He is almost an authority on human rights knowing him as I do, as a lucubrative writer and fluent speaker. Human rights are gaining importance daily but facing violation in every country.

The author has covered a wide panorama of topics under the heading, ‘Human rights’. The current challenges to human rights worldwide are escalating and, indeed, not merely terrorist groups but state agencies themselves make them vulnerable.

The book deals with housing as a basic right, discusses Human Rights Commissions and focuses attention on the violation of human rights in various States in our country and in various dimensions. Political morality, gender equality, child rights and human dignity find meaningful deliberation.
Where are we heading? Asks the author. From bad to worse, is my pessimistic answer. Forced evictions are common. The Narmada Valley terrorism is a crime against helpless adivasis.

The POTA, TADA, the Goonda Act, and like measures, “red in tooth and claw”, indicate the disguise of human rights violation by States under the guise of social security.

International humanitarian law claims the author’s expert attention. Child-abuse, refugee injustice, the diminishing importance of democracy, the unfair verdict on under-trials even in court, disturb the reader’s conscience as we poignantly peruse Sachar’s pensive chapters.

There is so much more in it that wading through nearly 360 pages is a somber task. A hundred other items not yet touched by me, are covered which are relevant to persons who are concerned and committed to human rights.

What is interesting, in the light of contemporary controversies, is whether a foreigner can be a Prime Minister in India. Annie Besant and Sonia Gandhi are mentioned in this context.

But I would leave the reader to himself. Similarly, an abundance of issues magnetise our mind to consume many more pages in the book, full of polemics on a variety of allied issues, but space is a serious limitation on the reviewer’s pen.

How about the indefensibly protracted Babri Masjid litigation, which never knows an end and ever has a vested interest in forensic prolixity? The judicial process, arcane not archaic, is not worried by the passage of time. Similarly, how long, how long will the legislative interminability continue before gender justice, dealing with the women’s reservation bill, would restore political status to our mothers and sisters whose wisdom is no less than ours?

The perspectives and challenges bearing on human rights are so legally important and democratically relevant that injustice to the unfair gender exposes the hidden agenda of masculine hypocrisy. I stop unwillingly although I have more to write on human rights.

Great is the book of Rajindar, wise is the person who has the patience to read so much packed into so many pages that jurists are too jejune to master the jurisprudence of human justice.

Reader, “some books are to be tasted, others are to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested”. (Bacon) Sachar deserves page by page.


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