Contemporary Issues of Human Rights in India amid COVID-19


This post has been written by Shaily Jain, a second year law student from Amity Law School, Amity University, Chhatisgarh.


Rights are the reasonable claim of the people which is recognized by society & enforced and protected by the state. The state is an institution that protects the rights of the people. Human rights are the rights that a person simply holds because he/she is a human being. Human rights are those rights which are enjoyed by all the person equally, universally and forever. Human rights are comparatively of recent origin but the ideas of human rights are as old as the history of humanity. There are 10 human rights treaty bodies that monitor proper implementation of the core  international  human rights  treaties :

  • Committee on Economic, social and cultural human rights
  • Committee on the Elimination of  Racial Discrimination
  • Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against women
  • Human Rights Committee
  • Committee on the Rights of the Child
  • Committee on the Migrant workers etc

Human rights and Covid-19

As we know that Covid-19  is pandemic declared by WHO on 12th March 2020. There is still no vaccine for the protection of the people. Therefore the only solution which is left is a lockdown, which is also done by the government. The country’s economy suffered a loss of over one percent due to the announcement government’s aid package of 1.7 trillion rupees.

Every week the economy is losing approximate, Rs 2 lakh crore and the poor are going into deep poverty. Out of the three sectors of the economy, two sectors i.e. service and production are closed. This sector contributes 70.6 % in the GDP and 43.9% labor force gets employment by this sector. Fortunately, there is some hope in agriculture, the third sector of our economy. Due to COVID-19, several kinds of Human rights are violated.

Various Human Rights that are related to Covid-19

Several kinds of Human Rights which are guaranteed under the different International Human Rights treaties. Some of them are as under:-

  • Right to Education (Article 26 of UDHR & Article 13-14 of ICESCR)
  • Right to Social Security (Article 22 of UDHR & Article 9 of ICESCR)
  • Right to work ( Article 23 of UDHR & Article 6-7 of ICESCR)
  • Right to Adequate Standard of life (Article 25 of UDHR & Article 11 of ICESCR)
  • Right to Health
  • Right to Shelter
  • Right to food
  • Right to life (Article 3 of UDHR & Article 6 of ICCPR )
  • Right to privacy (Article 12 of UDHR & Article 17 of ICCPR)

Violation of Human Rights on the grounds of Covid-19

Following are the basic human rights which are violated due to the Covid-19 pandemic-

Right to health-(Article 23 of UDHR & Article 11 of ICESCR)

We frequently associate the Right to Health with access to health care and the building of hospitals. This is correct but then it extends further. It includes a wide range of factors that can help us lead a healthy life.

  • Safe drinking water and adequate sanitation
  • Safe food
  • Adequate nutrition and Housing
  • Healthy working and Environmental conditions
  • Health-related education and information
  • Gender equality

It is an obligation on states and responsibilities of others towards the Right to Health. There are three types of obligations of the state. Firstly obligation to respect, secondly obligations to protect and last but not the least the obligation to fulfill. Article 2 of ICESCR-Each State Party undertakes to take steps to the maximum of its available resources to achieve progressively the full realization of the rights in this treaty.

But nowadays these rights are violated because the health facilities, goods, and services are not available in a sufficient quantity, goods and services are not affordable for all and there exists the Discrimination too. The provided health facilities’ goods and services aren’t in good quality. That is why it leads towards it a complete violation.

Right to work-(Article 6-7 of ICESCR & Article 23 of UDHR)

This pandemic has mercilessly exposed the deep faultiness in our labor market. The government closed Enterprises, shops, restaurants. They also canceled booking Flights and hotels.

Legislation under the general duty clause which places a duty on employees to take all reasonable precautions to prevent injuries or accidents in the workplace. If government act decisively to ensure business continuity, prevent layoffs and protect vulnerable groups often the one to lose their jobs are those whose employment was already precarious- Clerks, waiters, kitchen staff, salesman, etc.

In this situation, there is a need to continue the work with certain precautions like-

  • Maintain good hygiene.
  • Ensuring cleanliness of the surface where the virus may reside ( door handles, elevator buttons, shared telephones, etc).
  • Maintaining good ventilation.
  • Encouraging employees to stay home when they are sick. Allowing the employee to work at home whenever they are sick.
  • Last but not the least proper sanitization & proper implementation of social distancing.
  • Because poverty anywhere remains a threat to prosperity everywhere.

Right to Education-(Article 26 of UDHR & Article 13-14 of ICESCR)

UNESCO recommends that the state adopts a variety of hi-tech, low-tech & no-tech solutions to assure the continuity of learning. In many countries teachers already used online learning to complement normal contact hours in the classroom for homework, classroom exercises and many students have excess to technological equipment at home but there are certain places or villages which still faces poor network connections and this problem leads to the violation of their Right to Education.

For proper continuity of Education and for protecting human rights. Following are the suggestions for it-

  1. Online excess to libraries leads to be one of the ways for acquiring the knowledge in this pandemic.
  2. Potential practices and strategies for continuity of Education without closing the schools and colleges for too long.
  3. Encouraging online competition which leads to increase or enhance their qualities and abilities.

Right to Adequate Standard of living( Article 25 of UDHR & Article 11 of ICESCR)

Everyone has the Right to Adequate Standard of living. It includes food, clothes, shelter, medical care, and necessary social services and all these things come along with the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, old age, and other things. At this period of time, all the basic things for an adequate standard of living aren’t available to all the people. People are suffering from starvation, homelessness, and sickness. Basically, the labor class and the lower class of the society viz migrant workers and poor people are suffering badly from the above things. The numbers of data are increasing day by day. The rights of the people are in danger.

For coping up with this problem following are the suggestions-

  1. Migrant workers should be provided with shelter.
  2. The Distributor’s channel must be strong. Religious institutions and NGO’s should collaborate. They should aim to provide the food to the needy.
  3. There must be a health camp in each area and villages so the people can seek medical care.

Right to freedom of movement

Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. However, these rights are violated because the laborers are stuck in the cities. They don’t have any means to fulfill their basic needs, even transportation is not running. Migrant workers are facing a lot of problems and they are going their home by walking miles away alone. They don’t have any means to acquire a basic standard that’s why they are moving back to their villages but because of this pandemic, they don’t have transport facilities to do so which leads to being the reason for the violation of freedom of movement.


To conclude it may be said that all the essential measures should be taken to cope up with the pandemic, proper implementation of the rights should be done. The government should look after the needs of the people then took any strict decision. Human rights are universal and everyone holds it. To fulfill the needs of the citizens and help them in enjoying their rights in this pandemic too will be the motive of the government.


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