New Delhi: The National Human Rights Chairman
Justice K G Balakrishnan on Wednesday said poverty is the biggest
human rights violators and adequate measures must be taken to
abolish the bane.
"Poverty is the biggest violator of human rights. Its
eradication is vital for development. Poverty should not be
treated as merely a development project. The agenda must
include provisions of all such basic amenities like health
care, safe drinking water, adequate nutrition, educational
facilities, etc," Balakrishnan said.
The former CJI said courts and constitutions have held
back from making socio-economic rights to food, shelter and
health care legally binding because of finite availability of
fiscal resources but steps must be taken to ensure that no one
dies of starvation in the country.
"The death of a citizen by starvation is seen as a moral
failure of the state bur rarely one that entails direct
punishable criminal or even civil liability of public
authorities who were charged with the responsibility to
ensure that every man, woman and child in their jurisdiction
have access to sufficient food for their survival with
dignity," he said while delivering Bhimsen Sachar Memorial
"The right to enough and assured food to live an active
and healthy life with dignity is in principle also as
essential component of the fundamental right to life, because
life itself is impossible without food," he said.
Balakrishnan said Transnational Corporations (TNCs) are
making aggressive moves to take over well managed Indian
companies by taking advantage of government
economic reforms and liberalisation.
"Some of the corporations are violating human rights by
their activities. They have been accused of violating human
rights to life, including right to enjoy life, freedom from
forced or slave labour...water pollution and environmental
damping," he said.
He also cited the Bhopal gas tragedy and the Vedanta
mining issue while referring to the failure of TNCs in
protecting human rights.
Asking the TNCs to be more sensitive towards the needs of
the society, Balakrishnan said, "Even though states have the
primary responsibility to promote, fulfill and protect human
rights, the TNCs -- as organs of society -- are also
responsible for upholding the human rights."
"A more feasible and holistic solution needs to be
developed for holding the TNCs accountable for human rights
violations," he said.