"We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others
- Will Rogers
The above statement is rightly pointed out by one of the greatest social commentators, actor and an American newspaper columnist that, until and unless others’ rights are recognized, there will be no true civilization. With the dawn of self awareness of rights among the people, the need for assumption of knowledge of others’ rights too has become the greatest need of the hour.
‘Right to Assume’ in International Jurisprudence
There is a plethora of instances where it is legitimate to expect that others know your rights too. The United Nations defines Human rights as the rights that are inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status is. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible. Universal human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the forms of treaties, customary international law, general principles and other sources of international law. International human rights law lays down obligations of Governments to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups.2 It can be very well inferred from the aforementioned definition that whenever a right is created, it creates an obvious assumption that the others are well aware of such rights and the course of action they follow has to be consistent with it.
Intellectual property rights is also one of most glaring examples of where there is an inherent right to give due recognition to others rights too. For instance, Intellectual Property Rights wherein Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, and symbols, names and images used in commerce. IP is protected in law by, for example, patents, copyright and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create3 IP rights are infringed when a work protected by IP laws is used, copied or otherwise exploited without having the proper permission from a person who owns those rights. The spirit of these laws dwells in the fact that whenever such rights are created it becomes incumbent on others to not to infringe such rights and thus the owner of these rights assumes that his rights are duly acknowledged by other. This in turn creates a healthy atmosphere for the owner of the IP rights, to bring in more creativity to his intellectual property, whatsoever it is, with an assumption that others will give due recognition to his rights and not infringe it.
This right to assume is also manifest in the rights given to the weaker sections of the society such as women, children and economically and socially backward classes. These sections of society are armed with special rights so that they can come at par with the other sections of the society. The rights given to them creates a duty on the counterparts to give due regard to the said rights, thus giving a self evident example of knowing others’ rights.
‘Right to Assume’ in the Indian Context
The Constitution of India provides Fundamental Rights to every citizen of India. However it also imposes duty on the State as well as others to give due regard to the Fundamental rights enshrined in it. Hence, there is always an element of assumption that everyone is aware of each others’ rights. Thus the Constitution itself latently enshrines this ideology and concept.
Another evident instance is Consumer Rights under The Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The Act provides various rights to the consumers, for example, an assurance of quality of service and product which creates an assumption on the consumers that the service provider or the seller of goods will be fully aware of the rights enshrined in it. The service provider and the seller of goods are expected to set their course of action considering in mind the rights of the consumers.
The expression ‘Right to Assume’, may not have embarked its presence dominantly in the legal abode, but its existence is undoubtedly as inseparable as a shadow. The right to assume that everyone knows your rights is present passively in almost all the laws because where there is a right there is a duty too. Nevertheless there is a need to highlight these rights and recognize such rights by making their presence more prominent, by expressly mentioning it in the various laws imparting such rights.
1 Will Rogers. BrainyQuote.com, Xplore Inc, 2016. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/willrogers386200.html, accessed July 15, 2016.
2 Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Pages/WhatareHumanRights.aspx, accessed July 15,2016
3 World Intellectual Property Organization, http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/, accessed July 15, 2016