Right to Human Dignity: The Prisoner Perspective (Paper)

  • Shriya Khurana, Benett University, Greater Noida
  • April 30, 2021

Content :

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason conscience and should act toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood” 

An excerpt of Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This article reiterates our truth that all human beings are equal and free in pride and rights. We’re worth the same and have the same rights as everyone else. The whole purpose of human rights is for humans to be respected by each other not because they have to, but because they are human. This particular article doesn’t stand for human rights it stands for humanity. 
From the moment we are born we get these rights just because we simply exist, we have opposable working thumbs, a complex brain and other specifications which make us ‘human’; the point is being human is easy but on the other hand acting human is an entirely different thing. 

These set of rights that are guaranteed to every individual are not imperative to us because they are about equality and respect, but because they define who we are and our righteous position in this society, because in the words of sir Nelson Mandela ‘To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity’. Be it the domestic context or the global one the importance of right to dignity has been highlighted ever since the dawn of civilisation due to the moral connotation attached with it. Dignity can be construed as the moral respect a human being owes to another one because of equal composition from which they origin.
When it comes to prisoners upholding their dignity becomes quite a challenge because of the perception that a convicted prisoner is a ‘bad’ person or does not deserve the respect guaranteed to all human beings. Law and morality often refute this statement because the generic accepted revelation is that the world exists in colour instead black and white. The idea nothing can be compartmentalised as an absolute wrong or right, our judgement however often falls short of this theory.
India is the largest democracy and has been battling against all odds of tyranny since ages.Being a secular country the closest thing we happen to have as unified holy book is the Constitution of India 1950, which upholds dignity above all. The enforcement of the same has attracted both appreciation as well as criticism an example which is often viewed in the black and white light is that of Ajmal Kasab. The government incurred an expenditure of 29 crores to keep him safe and healthy in prison for 4 years, in hindsight the scenario seems ambiguous open to criticism however we should also appreciate the dignity that was endowed upon him while majority of India had vilified him rightly or otherwise.
Dignity is not an option it is a right that we all deserve regardless of our societal portfolios.