PUCL Bulletin, January 2004

Human Rights still not an election issue

-- By Y.P. Chhibbar

The recent elections to five State assemblies were unique in many respects. The most outstanding element of the entire process was a beginning of cleansing of the process. The Supreme Court verdict and the Election Commission follow-up action thereon as a result of the PUCL case for transparency of the record of the candidates compelled the candidates to declare their assets, liabilities, etc., and criminal record, if any. In some States activist groups procured the details from the Election officers and publicised them. Media print as well as electronic played a very positive role in making the entire process transparent. This was a good exercise in voter education. As time-passes the electorate will become more and more inquisitive about the background and record of the candidates.

One thing however, was, sadly, missing. No party in any State in its manifesto committed itself to human rights. The terms Human Rights and Civil Liberties continue to be taboo. This is a hangover of the Emergency. It is to be realised that every elected member of the Parliament and the Legislature has to take an oath to uphold the Constitution of India. Human Rights are written in the Constitution of India, still the words are not uttered.

There seems to be an unwritten hostility between political power and Human Rights and Civil Liberties. Human Rights and defenders of Human Rights continue to be referred to in an oblique manner.


Home | Index | What's new

Valid HTML 4.01!