Universal Human Rights: A Utilitarian Perspective
Mihir S. Asolekar, Maharashtra National Law University, Aurangabad
It is hoped that every nation state in the world should conform to the so-called “universal human rights”. The United Nations Organization elucidates the terminology “human rights” as the “rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination”.1
The above framework of human rights, based on which the International Human Rights Law has evolved, is implemented in India, too. It is well-known that India has ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). UDHR is “a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected. The UDHR, together with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two Optional Protocols (on the complaints procedure and on the death penalty) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and its Optional Protocol, form the so-called International Bill of Human Rights”2.
In the recent times, political activism has taken rather undesirable turn and “mob” is the ruler. In such rough weather, all the weaker sections of the society are pushed out of the “inner circle of the powerful”, including the religious minorities, socially and economically backward sections of society, women, children, physically and mentally challenged individuals.
It is hypothesized in this research that although the so-called “utilitarian philosophy” appears quite rational when one has to “weigh” the options while making choices related to public policies and legislative or administrative decisions; the interests of the minorities and weaker sections of society will get compromised and thereby weaken democracy in India in instances where the philosophy is misunderstood and misinterpreted.
Keywords: Universal Human Rights, Jeremy Bentham, Utilitarianism, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Locke, Indian Judiciary.