Every human being is considered as a rational being pursuing certain amount of intellectuality. He has to survive through the society by performing certain duties he is supposed to perform. But the duties alone are not what he gets. He also is entitled to certain rights. Some of them are basic rights whereas some others are secondary rights. The basic rights every human being possesses are known as human rights. Human rights are rights which are essential for the protection and maintenance of one’s dignity and also to develop one’s personality. These rights are the very basis of every human being’s life. The first time human rights were talked about was in the United Nations Charter wherein Article 55 specifically talked about respect and observance of human rights as fundamental freedoms. Thereafter there have been various other attempts by the United Nations to incorporate human rights as an integral part of its agreements such as the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, etc. India is also not far away from recognising human rights as basic rights everyone should posses. The Indian constitution has very proudly incorporated several human rights under the ambit of fundamental rights.
The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights specifically states under Article 55 about creating conditions so that human beings can leave a peaceful, stable life with equal rights by promoting higher standards of living, conditions of economic and social progress as well as development and freedom without any discrimination based on sex, caste, religion, language, etc.
But it also should be pointed out that gender equality is a very integral and important part of these human rights provided to the human beings whether it is by the United Nations or the Indian Legislature in the form of the Indian constitution and various other individual codifications. The term gender equality is a term with a very wide scope just like human rights. In a layman language, the term gender equality can be defined as equality between the genders present in a society whether it is between a male and a female, or male and a third gender person or a female and a third gender person. It is said while human rights are to be promoted within the society, the concept of gender equality is what needs to be dealt with first. Being equally treated amongst all the genders is a type of human right that every person needs and is to be provided as everyone should be treated equal without any type of discrimination. Equality in the eyes of law, equality at workplace, equality while pursuing any education, etc. are included under the purview of gender equality.
Part III of the Indian constitution titled as Fundamental rights is inherent of human rights. For instance article 14 talks about equality before law, article 19 right to freedom, etc. Article 14 to 18 is the very crux of providing equality to every citizen of the country without any discrimination on the basis of any caste, sex, creed, religion, etc.
In a landmark judgement of Vishakha v. State of Rajasthan also known as the judgement on the sexual harassment at workplace was an initiative by the Indian judiciary to promote a safer environment for women at workplace so as to let them earn their living without any hindrance like men do. The Indian government in the year 2013 has passed legislation and incorporated a law in the legal system under the title the sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) act, 2013 while includes all the guidelines passed by the Supreme Court in the Vishakha judgement.
Also in John Vollamatton v. Union of India, the petitioners challenged the constitutional validity of section 118 of the Hindu Succession Act to which the supreme court held that it was violative of the right to equality and thus was invalid.
In the case of Mohd. Ahmad Khan v. Shah Bano Begum the supreme court held that every wife after divorce is entitled to maintenance without discrimination on the basis of Hindu and Muslim.
The Supreme Court has given a new dimension to the writ of habeas corpus by its judgement in Sunil Batra ‘ll’ v. Delhi Administration. While the decision of the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in Sunil Batra I v. Delhi Administration had crystallized the legally enforceable rights of a prisoner, the later decision in Sunil Batra II has radicalised the procedure for the enforcement of the rights of the prisoners. Also, every person can ask for the grounds on which he or she is being arrested as matter of right provided under the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Also in Randhir Singh v. Union of India case, the Supreme Court had held that although the principle of equal pay for equal work is not explicitly declared by the Indian constitution as a fundamental right but is already a part of articles 14, 16, and 39(c) of the Indian constitution.
In the matter of Revathi v. Union of India the Supreme Court held that there is no discrimination being made on the basis or sex in the provision given on adultery in the Indian penal code rather it is a social provision which was incorporated by the British. In various other provisions also there have been discrepancies while distributing rights between men and women.
In the end, the question arises that whether gender equality is actually achieved by the Indian society or is there still a long way to go.