COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES
PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations of the Committee on
the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. At its 1161st,
1162nd and 1163rd meetings, held on 7 and 8 August 1996 (see CERD/C/SR.1161-1163),
the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination considered the
tenth to fourteenth periodic reports of India (CERD/C/299/Add.3) and adopted,
at its 1182nd meeting, held on 22 August 1996, the following concluding
2. The Committee
expresses its appreciation for the opportunity to resume its dialogue with
the State party on the basis of its tenth to fourteenth periodic reports.
It regrets the brevity of the report, all the more so since 10 years have
passed since the previous report was submitted. It also regrets that the
report does not provide concrete information on the implementation of the
Convention in practice; it furthermore regrets that the report and the delegation
claim that the situation of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes does
not fall within the scope of the Convention.
3. The Committee
notes that the State party has not made the declaration provided for in
article 14 of the Convention. Some of the members of the Committee requested
that the possibility of making such a declaration be considered.
B. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation
of the Convention
4. It is noted
that India is a large multi-ethnic and multicultural society. It is also
noted that the extreme poverty of certain groups in the population, the
system of castes and the climate of violence in certain parts of the country
are among the factors which impede the full implementation of the Convention
by the State party.
C. Positive aspects
5. The leading
role played by India in the struggle against racial discrimination and apartheid
at the international level is welcomed by the Committee. The Committee also
acknowledges the far-reaching measures adopted by the Government to combat
discrimination against members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
6. The demographic
data on the composition of the population and on the representation of various
communities in the public service at the central and state level of government
provided by the delegation during the meetings are welcomed.
7. The broad functions
and powers of the recently established National Commission on Human Rights,
as defined by the Protection of Human Rights Act (1993), which include the
capacity to inquire into complaints of violations of human rights, to intervene
in any proceeding involving allegations of violation of human rights pending
before a court, to review constitutional and legal safeguards, to study
treaties and other international instruments on human rights, to recommend
measures for their effective implementation and to spread human rights literacy
among the population, are welcomed by the Committee. It is noted with interest
that the Commission encourages the states within the federation to create
human rights commissions, as well as tribunals dealing specifically with
8. The Committee
takes note of the plurality of newspapers and the mass media, and their
awareness of human rights problems. The Committee holds that they play an
important role in the implementation of the International Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
9. Note is also
taken of the procedure of public interest litigation adopted by the Supreme
Court, which affords the possibility to anyone, and not only to the victims
of human rights violations, to seek redress from the court by any means,
even by means of a postcard.
10. Articles 15
(i) and 15 (ii) of the Constitution of India, prohibiting all forms of discrimination
by the State and its agents, or between individuals, including discrimination
based on race and castes, as well as article 153, paragraphs (a) and (b),
and article 505 of the Penal Code, which prohibit actions that promote disharmony,
hatred, feelings of enmity and ill-will on grounds of race or religion,
are found to be mainly in conformity with article 2, paragraph 1, of the
11. The Committee
welcomes the statement in the State party's report to the effect that no
organization which promotes and incites racial discrimination can legally
exist in India and that the Constitution and the laws in this regard make
it clear that the State party will take all necessary measures within the
law to prevent activities and propaganda which promote and incite racial
12. The lapse of
the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA), which applied
in parts of the north-eastern part of the country and in Jammu and Kashmir,
under which the right to personal security of some members of ethnic and
religious minorities living in those areas was often reported to be violated
by security forces, is welcomed.
13. The importance
accorded by the authorities to education as a means to spread awareness
of human rights and literacy among the population and to struggle against
all forms of discrimination, in particular racial discrimination, as well
as the activities of the National Commission on Human Rights and the inclusion
of human rights in the training of law enforcement officials, are welcomed.
D. Principal subjects of concern
14. Noting the
declaration in paragraph 7 of the report, reiterated in the oral presentation,
the Committee states that the term "descent" mentioned in article
1 of the Convention does not solely refer to race. The Committee affirms
that the situation of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes falls within
the scope of the Convention. It emphasizes its great concern that within
the discussion of the report, there was no inclination on the side of the
State party to reconsider its position.
15. The Committee
is seriously concerned that the Kashmiris, as well as other groups, are
frequently treated, on account of their ethnic or national origin, in ways
contrary to the basic provisions of the Convention.
16. Clause 19 of
the Protection of Human Rights Act prevents the National Commission on Human
Rights from directly investigating allegations of abuse involving the armed
forces. This is a too broad restriction on its powers and contributes to
a climate of impunity for members of the armed forces. Moreover, it is regretted
that the Commission is debarred from investigating cases of human rights
violation that occurred more than a year before the making of the complaint.
17. The absence
of information on the functions, powers and activities of the National Commission
on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and of the National Commission
on Minorities makes it impossible to assess whether these Commissions have
a positive impact upon the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms
by members of the groups in question.
18. It is regretted
that no information has been provided to the Committee on the effective
implementation of the penal provisions referred to in paragraph 10 above.
In this regard, concern is expressed at numerous reports of acts of discrimination
based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin, although it
was stated that no such case has yet been brought before the courts; this
leads the Committee to wonder whether individuals are sufficiently informed
about their rights.
19. The lack of
concrete information on the legal provisions in force to prohibit organizations
which incite and promote racial discrimination and hatred, and to punish
members of such organizations in accordance with article 4 of the Convention,
as well as on their application in practice, including eventual court decisions,
is regretted. This is most serious in view of widespread violence against
certain minorities actively sponsored by extremist organizations that have
not been declared illegal.
20. The lack of
information on the text of the Directive Principles of State Policy of the
Constitution relating to the promotion of social, economic and cultural
rights, and on measures to give them effect, makes any evaluation of the
implementation of article 5 of the Convention more difficult.
21. Regrets are
expressed that the National Security Act and, in some areas of India, the
Public Safety Act, remain in force.
22. It is noted
with concern that the denial of the equal enjoyment of political rights,
as provided for in article 5 (c) of the Convention, has led to an increase
of violence, in particular in Jammu and Kashmir.
23. It is noted
that although constitutional provisions and legal texts exist to abolish
untouchability and to protect the members of the scheduled castes and tribes,
and although social and educational policies have been adopted to improve
the situation of members of scheduled castes and tribes and to protect them
from abuses, widespread discrimination against them and the relative impunity
of those who abuse them point to the limited effect of these measures. The
Committee is particularly concerned at reports that people belonging to
the scheduled castes and tribes are often prevented from using public wells
or from entering cafés or restaurants and that their children are sometimes
separated from other children in schools, in violation of article 5 (f)
of the Convention.
24. The Committee
regrets that certain communities do not enjoy representation in proportion
to their size.
25. Although it
is noted that the Supreme Court and the high courts have the jurisdiction
to award compensation to victims of human rights violations, including in
the field of racial discrimination, concern is expressed that there exists
no specific statute providing for the right of individuals to seek from
the courts just and adequate reparation or satisfaction for any damage suffered
as a result of acts of racial discrimination, as required by article 6 of
E. Suggestions and recommendations
26. The Committee
recommends that the State party continue and strengthen its efforts to improve
the effectiveness of measures aimed at guaranteeing to all groups of the
population, and especially to the members of the scheduled castes and scheduled
tribes, the full enjoyment of their civil, cultural, economic, political
and social rights, as mentioned in article 5 of the Convention. In this
regard, the Committee recommends that the next report to be submitted by
the State party contain full and detailed information on the legislative
aspects and the concrete implementation of the Directive Principles of the
State Policy of the Constitution.
27. The Committee
recommends that special measures be taken by the authorities to prevent
acts of discrimination towards persons belonging to the scheduled castes
and scheduled tribes, and, in cases where such acts have been committed,
to conduct thorough investigations, to punish those found responsible and
to provide just and adequate reparation to the victims. In this regard,
the Committee particularly stresses the importance of the equal enjoyment
by members of these groups of the rights to access to health care, education,
work and public places and services, including wells, cafés or restaurants.
28. The Committee
recommends that clause 19 of the Protection of Human Rights Act be repealed
to allow inquiries of alleged abuses committed by members of the armed and
security forces to be conducted by the National Commission on Human Rights
and that the Commission be enabled to look into complaints of acts of racial
discrimination that occurred more than a year before the filing of the complaint.
29. The Committee
recommends that the next periodic report of the State party include information
on the powers and functions, as well as on their effective implementation,
of the National Commission on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and
of the National Commission on Minorities.
30. The Committee
also recommends that the Government provide in its next periodic report
information, including the number of complaints lodged and sentences passed,
about the implementation in practice of the legal provisions prohibiting
acts of racial discrimination and organizations which promote and incite
racial discrimination, in accordance with articles 2 and 4 of the Convention.
31. The Committee
recommends a continuing campaign to educate the Indian population on human
rights, in line with the Constitution of India and with universal human
rights instruments, including the International Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. This should be aimed at eliminating
the institutionalized thinking of the high-caste and low-caste mentality.
32. The Committee
reaffirms that the provisions of article 6 of the Convention are mandatory
and that the Government of India should adopt legal provisions making it
easier for individuals to seek from the courts just and
or satisfaction for any damage suffered as a result of acts of racial discrimination,
including acts of discrimination based on belonging to a caste or a tribe.
33. The Committee
suggests that the State party ensure wide publicity, as far as possible
in the official and state languages, to its tenth to fourteenth reports
and to the present concluding observations.
34. The Committee
recommends that the State party ratify at its earliest convenience the amendments
to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, adopted by the fourteenth
meeting of States parties.
35. The Committee
recommends that the State party's next periodic report, due on 4 January
1998, be a comprehensive report and that it address all the points raised
in these concluding observations.
comments of the Government of India were submitted to the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination pursuant to article 9, paragraph 2,
of the Convention and are reprinted in annex IX to the annual report of
the Committee (A/51/18).