Human Rights of Security Forces
General Studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
General Studies 3
In News: The Supreme Court has agreed to examine and hear a petition seeking protection of the rights of the armed forces personnel and the security personnel in view of facing agitated and sometimes even angry civilian protestors. The petition is filed by two young women — a daughter of a retired Army officer, and a daughter of a serving Army officer.
The Supreme Court while agreeing to examine the plea has sought views of the Central government Union Ministry of Defence, Jammu and Kashmir government and the National Human Rights Commission.
What do the petitioners want?
The petitioners are seeking the formulation of a policy to safeguard the rights of armed forces personnel on what all could come under their ambit while discharging their duties in case of facing an unruly mobs or individuals who attack them while performing their military duty.
The petitioners here are citing various instances of violence against Armed Forces personnel including stone pelting in Kashmir. The contention raised by the petitioners also seek to examine if the cases must also be registered against the perpetrators of such violence. The petition added that depriving the armed forces personnel of their right to prosecute a person who has committed an offence against them is a violation of their fundamental right to life and liberty, including the right to legal recourse.
The petition also said that the petitioners had lodged a complaint of human rights violation with the NHRC, citing specific instances, but the commission transferred the complaint to the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) of Jammu and Kashmir on the grounds that it lacked jurisdiction.
The petitioners also sought setting aside of the NHRC order dated January 4 transferring the representation to the SHRC and a direction to complete the probe of human rights violations of armed forces personnel.
Constitutional Provisions: Article 33
Article 33 is an exception to the Fundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution. It empowers the Parliament to restrict or abrogate the application of the fundamental rights in relation to Armed Forces, Paramilitary Forces, Police, Persons employed in intelligence or counterintelligence services, and communication systems set up for the said organizations.
Acts such as the Army Act 1950, Navy Act 1957, Air Forces Act 1950 have been enacted as per Article 33. These acts restrict rights such as
- Freedom of speech and expression
- Freedom of assembly
- Freedom to form associations and unions
Article 13 of the Indian Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to every citizen. It prohibits the Parliament and the state legislatures from making laws that “may take away or abridge the fundamental rights” guaranteed to the citizens of the country.
Fundamental Rights for every Indian citizen:
- Right to equality
- Right to freedom
- Right against exploitation
- Right to freedom of religion
- Cultural and educational rights
- Right to constitutional remedies.
Should there be an exception as petitioned?
The military plays an important role in nation-building and national security. Notwithstanding special requirements of military life, the members of the armed forces should enjoy the rights guaranteed in the Constitution and other relevant international human rights treaties which India has ratified to the extent that those rights are available to other citizens of the country. The guarantee of a fair trial should apply to all proceedings under the military legal system, including summary trial and summary systems of court martial. The government must ensure the economic, social, and cultural rights of military personnel including housing, medical care, education, free legal aid and social security.
We should not forget that although they are often heavily criticized for violations of which they may be guilty, they are also the source of solutions as one of their primary functions is to guarantee the rights of each individual. Wearing uniforms does not take away the human rights of the Armed Forces’ Personnel. A soldier is as much human as anybody else.
There is an urgent need for a clear-cut policy discussing the rights and duties of the security forces that may end up facing an unruly mob or any other life-threatening move. Also, the society needs to be educated and made aware of the sensitivity that an armed force personnel also deserves. After all, who will protect us if our armed forces are themselves not safe?