Peaceful Protest A Right But Shouldn’t Paralyse Society: India At UNHRC

Geneva: After the recent comments over a UN report by Special rapporteur on the Caste-based and minority discrimination in India, Mr. Ajit Kumar, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva said that “The ability to protest peacefully is an essential enabler for other rights and freedoms,” talking to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“Peaceful assembly is a crucial tool of public participation,” he said in India’s Explanation of Vote at the adoption of draft resolution on ‘Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Context of Peaceful Protests’.

He said India being the largest democracy in the world is committed to rule of law and the Indian Constitution guarantees all fundamental rights, the freedom of speech and expression as well as freedom to peaceful assembly including peaceful protests.

The Indian envoy’s comments at the Geneva-based UN human rights body came amid a heated debate back home on nationalism involving leading varsities over the right to peaceful protests and freedom of expression.

Kumar stressed that every right has a corresponding duty and in the name of legitimate exercise of one’s right to protest, the fundamental right of others cannot be “scuttled.”

“Enjoyment of rights always entails a degree of responsibility. Our Constitution clearly recognizes these inherent, reasonable restrictions, clearly related to the purpose enshrined under the right.

“In a democratic polity, the fundamental right of each citizen is sacrosanct. However, the collective cannot undermine the same. The persons or the organisations should always be cognizant that in the name of demonstration or protest, the life of a civilized society cannot be allowed to be paralyzed,” he said.