India At United Nations Human Rights Meet : ‘India Secular State With No State Religion’

Assuring the rights of minorities is an crucial core of the polity in India, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva [Switzerland], rebutting pursuits by Pakistan to point fingers at New Delhi for attacks on minorities. Mr Rohatgi, who led the Indian charge to the meet that reviewed the human rights record of member states, underlined India was a secular state with no state religion with a Constitution that cherish provisions for the protection of the minorities.

"As the world's largest multi-layered democracy, we fully recognise the importance of free speech and expression. Our people are conscious of their political freedoms and exercise their choices at every opportunity," Mr Rohatgi said at the review meeting held every four years.

At Thursday's convention, the country's top law officer repeatedly cited the pivotal role played by the judiciary in confirming human rights in the country along with other institutions. He used the word, court, no less than 21 times.

On one incident, without naming Yakub Memon, he how he was notified at z in the morning by the Supreme Court to hear his appeal. On others, he spoke about the top court's control to declare transgender persons as the third gender, holding the right to clean environment as a part of an individual's right to life and its rejection of the government's stand that AFSPA gave blanket immunity to the armed forces for perpetrators of unjustified deaths.

Mr Rohatgi held his ground, telling the review meeting that "the concept of torture was completely alien to our culture" and reiterated India's commitment to ratify the convention. He gave no assurances on removing AFSPA, which more than one government panel have said should be repealed. "Whether this Act should be repealed or not is a matter of on-going vibrant political debate in my country," he said.

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