Dworkin once wrote the book “ Taking rights seriously”. Now the big question is how far are we serious about our legal rights in day-to-day life. Law is to meet the demands of the Society. There is hardly any society on earth which could have visualized & foreseen all the possible rights. This is an impossible task. Law changes with society . Societies have changed by leaps and bounds. What one time used to be the concepts of the West are no more the same. People remaining in other parts of the world have also aped the West. Similarly the Western people have inclined towards the Indian values by accepting Meditation as the way to have universal peace of mind and body. The main pursuit of the whole communities is to have maximum amount of happiness. Social norms when internalized takes the shape of law. Law is to keep pace with changes in Societies.
Even in India, the Governments of the day are getting serious by giving recognition and importance to more and more rights. Latest in the string are Right to education and Right to information by enacting the suitable legislations . Right to refuse requires suitable amendment in the Election law and Lok Pal Act was recently a topic of public concern . Similar is the concern about citizens right to clean drinking water and sanitation. India has world’s 17 % population but only 4% of water. India is a water stressed Nation because of rising population and urbanization.
According to World Bank estimate, the poor quality of drinking water causes 21% of diseases in India and this creates a burden of around Rs. 300 Crores every year. This is despite the Country spending Rs. 1,48,000/- Crores to provide drinking water since 1990s.. Around one-third of the Indians don’t have access to clean drinking water and more than half of the Country’s population to clean sanitation. Only 42.2 % people in Jharkhand and 38% in Manipur have access to clean drinking water whereas in Punjab, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand have nearly 90% coverage.
In a new draft National Water Policy , the Water Resources Ministry has suggested that the access to safe drinking water and sanitation be regarded as a right. To achieve the goal, the Ministry has proposed a National water framework, which will help each State to come up with essential legislation on water governance. The State legislation will have to provide necessary authority to lower tiers of the Govt. to deal with the local water situation, the Draft states. It also states that the local government Institutions will ensure access to a minimum quantity of potable water that will be available within the reach of each household. But it will come with a price for everyone; water users Associations will have the power to charge tariff. The new Policy will force the State Governments. To ensure safe drinking water access to all in the next few years. The Draft says:
“ Water needs to be managed as a community resource, by the State , under public trust doctrine to achieve food security, livelihood…….”
Conclusion: Need of the day is to recognize and enact more and more new laws to curb all sorts of menace in the Society. Recognising & making laws in bits and pieces despite the need is the root cause of trouble. Delay on part of the legislation & half hearted effort on the part of the Governments of the day is not taking the Country too far. It is rightly said “ Where there is a will , there is a way”. There must be the political will to recognize and make laws to subserve the public interest . With the advanced technology , there is more and more threat to the legal rights and law is required to protect and safeguard the endangered rights. The utmost need is to select the selected rights from the Universally accepted rights by all civilized Nations of the world & to have full concern of the violation of the global human rights as enunciated in the International documents like “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, “The Covenant on Civil , Political & Economic Rights” and laws relating to curbing all sorts of Racial Discriminations. The ultimate goal is to have an equitous & balanced Society. This can be made possible by countering all sorts of imbalances in the Society by recognizing and giving importance to more and more rights through the instrumentality of law.