Constitutional guarantees for the human rights of our people were one of the persistent demands of our leaders throughout the freedom struggle. By the year 1949, when the Constituent Assembly had completed the drafting of the Fundamental Rights Chapter, it had before it the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,1966 (ICCPR) broadly referred to the inherent right to life and liberty and the right against arbitrary deprivation of those rights and its various aspects (Articles 6 to 14); privacy, family, etc. (Article 17); freedom of conscience and religion (Article 18); freedom of expression and information (Article 19); Right of peaceful assembly (Article 21); freedom of association (Article 22); rights of minorities (Article 27); etc. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966 (ICESCR) broadly referred to the “right to work” and its various aspects (Articles 6 and 7); right to form trade unions for promotion of economic or social interests and the right to strike (Article 8); right to social security and social insurance (Article 9); family, marriage, children and mothers’ rights (Article 10); adequate standard of living, right to food, clothing and housing, freedom from hunger (Article 11); physical and mental health (Article 12); education (Article 13); compulsory primary education (Article 14) and culture (Article 15).
The treaty obligations under the covenant enjoined the State Parties to ensure these rights without discrimination and “to take steps” to promote them “to the maximum of its available resources”, with a view to achieving “progressively” the full realisation of these rights. The Directive Principles of State Policy in Part IV of the Constitution are indeed the precursor to economic, social and cultural rights specified in the ICESCR.