New Delhi: Voicing concern over incidents of violence and discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, ethnicity and economic status, Vice President M Hamid Ansari on Friday said a system of governance is required where there is a fuller accountability and no "culture of impunity".
Speaking at the '8th Tarkunde Memorial Lecture' on the subject 'Citizens and State Conduct', Ansari said while an intellectual, legal and institutional framework for protection of human rights is in place but there are questions in regard to their efficacy in actual implementation.
He said that cases of discrimination based on religion, caste, language, ethnicity, work and economic status continue to be reported and the weak individual or group is invariably the victim.
"Despite the constitutional and legal guarantees, religious minorities continue to be target of violence and discrimination from time to time.
"Patterns of systematic mobilisation of hate and divisive politics are discernible; in many cases these have been pursued with impunity," Ansari said.
He added that the same holds for other weaker sections like SCs, STs, women, children and persons with disabilities.
"As we embark on the path of rapid economic growth and development, the issue of finding a balance between traditional rights of citizens, with environmental imperatives and economic objectives will have to be addressed by State; else, social tensions will undermine the development agenda," the Vice President said.
He added that some of the most serious human rights violations by the State vis-?-vis its citizens are abuses by the police and security forces, including extra-judicial killings, custodial deaths, torture, arbitrary detention and widespread corruption at all levels of government, leading to denial of justice.
Ansari said that this is particularly acute in areas of internal conflict, such as Jammu and Kashmir, Northeast, and the Naxal belt where serious complaints about the misuse of laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), the Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) or the Public Safety Act (PSA) continue to be made.
"Much of this is credible, has been carefully documented, and reflects poorly on the State and its agents," he added.
Quoting data from the Annual Report of the Ministry of Home Affairs, he said during the period January 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014, the NHRC conducted investigation of 6,834 cases, including 4,450 cases of death in judicial custody, 448 cases of death in police custody and 186 cases of police encounter deaths.
"These figures speak for themselves," Ansari said while adding that the situation is exacerbated by the fact that the judiciary is overburdened and court backlogs cause lengthy delays or the denial of justice.
The Vice President urged the people to collectively make efforts so that state to usher in greater accountability.
"We as a people need to awaken our collective conscience, strive for fulfilment of national norms and global standards, and induce fuller accountability into the system of governance at all levels so that the culture of impunity ends, and the State and its functionaries are held accountable for every act of omission or commission," he said.