United Nations: The right to peaceful protests cannot be taken away from people but any protest or demonstration should also not be allowed to paralyse the life of civilised society, India has told the UN human rights body.
"The ability to protest peacefully is an essential enabler for other rights and freedoms. Peaceful assembly is a crucial tool of public participation," India's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ajit Kumar 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' on Thursday.
He said as the largest democracy in the world, India 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.
Asserting that no person can be divested of these rights, which cannot be taken away or abridged, Kumar however 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 recognises 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 cognisant that in the name of demonstration or protest, the life of a civilised society cannot be allowed to be paralysed," he said.
He added that the joint compilation of the Special Rapporteur's recommendations could certainly generate interest in acknowledging the core objective of upholding freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
"However, these recommendations are highly imbalanced, and, do not recognise, in ample measure, the degree of responsibility of the participants in the assemblies," he said.
He pointed out that India believes that the draft resolution is "short" on giving due recognition to relevant provisions of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and also on the responsibility of protesters to operate peacefully within the national legal framework.