THE ANTI APARTHEID UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ACT, 1981

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The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court under Article 7 defines the crime of apartheid as brutal acts analogous to that of other crimes against human race committed in the framework of institutionalized administration. It shall be an organized dominance and the control by a racial group as against another for the main purpose of upholding their administration. Moreover, the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, 1973 concluded at the auspices of United Nations also explains the meaning of crime of apartheid as the brutal acts committed by a racial group for the fundamental object of establishing control and upholding such dominance by repressing them analytically.

In India the Anti Apartheid United Nations Convention Act, 1981 was modeled in consonance with the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of Crime of Apartheid. The provisions are provided under the Schedule which is legally enforceable in India. Where any amendments are initiated in the United Nations Convention, the same modifications shall be instigated to the provisions of the Act as well. The Act provides that if any person is liable for international criminal responsibility under the Convention, such person shall be punished with death sentence, life imprisonment or as prescribed under the Act. If the offence is committed by a company or any other institution, then the Act penalizes persons who are in charge of the affairs of the company when the offence was committed. The proviso to the Act provides that if the person establishes that the offence was committed without his awareness or understanding and that he applied all the due diligence to avoid the performance of the offence, he shall not be held guilty of the offence.

The person guilty of the offence of apartheid shall be prosecuted in a place where he is found or in a place determined by the Central government after publishing in the Gazette of India. A person shall be arrested or prosecuted under the Act only with prior sanction of the Central government or any other authority entrusted with the functions by the Act. The crime of apartheid does not come under the purview of the offence of a political nature to attract the provisions of the Extradition Act, 1962.

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The schedule to the Act describes the provisions under the Convention which provides the circumstances under which the crime of apartheid is considered to have committed. The following Acts are considered as the offence of apartheid under the Convention:

  1. The fundamental right to life and personal liberty is curtailed for the reason of being a member of racial group.
  2. Breach of the freedom of self-respect and dignity by cruel and inhumane treatment.
  3.  Illegal arrest and prosecution of the members of a racial group.
  4. Imposition of unhealthy living conditions for the physical annihilation of racial group.
  5. Misuse of labour by inflicting forced labour.
  6. Deprivation of fundamental rights for giving divergent view regarding apartheid.

According to the Convention if a person commits, takes part, provokes, assists or plans the Commission of the crime of apartheid shall be liable for international criminal responsibility.

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The Act is a very effective tool to prevent the discrimination on the basis of race which is prohibited by international legal systems also. Besides, the Constitution of India under Article 14 provides for equality before law and equal protection of laws. In Article 15 the Constitution expressly outlaws discrimination on the basis of sex, race, caste, color, creed etc. Therefore, the legislation has covered the international standards and abides by the provisions of the Constitution as well in fighting against the crime of apartheid.