the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) have statutory
limitations. Since the NHRIs are not expected to supplement the
judiciary and do not have enforcement powers, the inability to
implement their recommendations often raises questions about their
National Human Rights Commission of India is no exception. It
has its statutory limitations, among others, inability to investigate
abuses by the armed forces and the need to give prior intimation
to the authorities to visit any jail or any other institution
under the control of the State Government, where persons are detained
or lodged for purposes of treatment, reformation or protection
to study the living conditions of the inmates.
it is not the statutory limitations which has made India’s NHRC
more ineffective but its operational inefficiencies such as non-registration of complaints, denial of
the right to information on the complaints, violation of the cardinal
principle of administration of justice by not providing response
of the State to the complainant in the course of considering the
complaints, closure of cases on frivolous grounds, exposing the
complainants, flawed investigation processes and lack of follow
up mechanisms for prosecution.
Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) can unequivocally assert that its
observations are not based on assumptions or hearsay but consistent
and systematic engagement with the NHRC. Undoubtedly, NHRC has
played a critical role and continues to play a critical role for
the protection and promotion of human rights in India. However,
for those who engage with the NHRC, it is only a database centre
for human rights violations. The NHRC suffers from serious credibility
the statutory limitations, four key issues of concern are the
lack of plurality, keeping the armed forces out of the purview
of the NHRC and the requirement of prior permission to visit prisons.
composition of National Human Rights Commission does not reflect
the plurality as required under the Paris Principles on
National Human Rights Institutions. Although Chairman of the National
Commission for Scheduled Tribes, National Commission for Scheduled
Castes, National Commission for Women and National Commission
for Minorities are included as statutory members, these members
are busy with their own commissions. Effectively, there is no
representation from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Women
and Minorities. So much for plurality, NHRC’s website on the composition
of the Commission does not even include the National Commission
for Scheduled Castes and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes!
to 2003-04 Annual Report of Ministry of Home Affairs, India faces
intensive internal armed conflicts in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh,
Jammu and Kashmir, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.
In addition, Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chattisgarh,
Orissa, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and parts of
Uttar Pradesh are afflicted by left wing Naxalites movement against
inequity and social injustices.
In most of these
situations, armed forces have been deployed.
under Section 19 of the Human Rights Protection Act, NHRC does
not have jurisdiction over the armed forces of the government
of India who are responsible for gross and widespread human rights
violations in armed conflict situations. It has a detrimental
effect on NHRC's effectiveness, particularly in view of the human rights violations
by the armed forces.
need to provide prior intimation to the authorities for visiting
any jail or any other institution under the control of the State
Government, where persons are detained or lodged for purposes
of treatment, reformation or protection to study the living conditions
of the inmates defeats the purpose of prison reforms.
appointment of Mr P C Sharma, former Director of Central Bureau
of Investigation has been challenged before the Supreme Court.
As the Supreme Court has observed, there is nothing wrong with
the procedures for appointment of Mr Sharma as a member of the
Commission. The critical issue is the conflict of interest
when a police officer is appointed as a member of the NHRC when
most allegations of human rights violations are against the police.
The issue of conflict of interest is not restricted to Mr Sharma
but extends to the staffing of the NHRC who serve on deputation
from various Ministries.
Even though the then leader of Opposition,
Mrs Sonia Gandhi, was part of the panel but she reportedly did
not respond to the intimation sent to her on the appointment.The
Congress party while in opposition described the appointment of
Mr Sharma as "highly regrettable".
The party did not favour the appointment because Mr. Sharma,
as the CBI chief, had acquired the "odious reputation of
being a pliable police officer," the AICC chief spokesperson,
S. Jaipal Reddy said. He had "connived in sabotaging"
the Ayodhya case, he alleged. Yet, the UPA government led by the Congress
in its affidavit before the Supreme Court supported Mr Sharma’s
July 2005, the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), which
had challenged in the Supreme Court the appointment of Mr Sharma
as National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) member, has sought
the review of court’s order approving his selection.The question is whether the Supreme Court could
regulate conflict of interest when those who are supposed to nominate
members of the NHRC do not do their job.
than the statutory problems, it is the operational inefficiency
of the NHRC that has been hampering its effectiveness. The operational
inefficiency ranges from simply non-recognition of complaints
to violation of cardinal principle of jurisprudence.
its 2003-2004 Annual Report, NHRC states that it has taken 3,75,758
cases in its first 10 years. One wonders as to how many of the
complaints were simply not registered. These complaints also do
not violate Article 36 (2)
of the Human Rights Protection Act which stipulates that the Commission
“shall not inquire into any matter after the expiry of one year
from the date on which the act constituting violation of human
rights is alleged to have been committed.”
NHRC does not register the complaints, Asian Centre for Human
Rights has been delivering the complaints by hand on which NHRC
puts the “receipt stamp”.
that NHRC is able to examine the complaints in six months irrespective
of how serious the complaint is, ACHR did not receive any acknowledgement
on the following complaints, which can be presumed rejected:
2003: Complaint against alleged torture and custodial death of one Pitambar Pradhan alias Bhalu on 1 February
2003 at Mahanga police station of Orissa;
3 April 2003: Complaint against alleged torture
and extrajudicial execution of Mr Harilal Yadav (52), a Food Corporation
of India employee at the Rani ki Sarai police station, Lucknow,
Uttar Pradesh on 31 March 2003;
26 March 2003: Complaint against alleged torture
and custodial death of Himangtosh Baraik, 24 years on 10 February
2003 at Alipurduar, Siliguri under West Bengal;
22 March 2003: Complaint against custodial
death of Mr Dipak Lama, an under trial at the Alipurduar subsidiary correctional
home under Siliguri district of West Bengal on 3 February 2003;
3 April 2003: Complaint against alleged torture
and custodial death of a 23-year-old youth, Ramesh in Doddaballapur
town police station in Bangalore Rural District, Karnataka in
the afternoon of 10 January 2003;
3 April 2003: Complaint against custodial death
of Mallepalli Ramakrishna (30) of Yerragudipalle in Pulivendula mandal,
Cuddapah of Andhra Pradesh;
24 April 2003: Complaint against alleged torture
and custodial death of lorry driver, Mailapalli Satya Srinivasa
Rao, 33 in Kotabommali police station in the Srikakulam district
of Andhra Pradesh on 1 March 2003;
17 June 2003: Complaint against alleged harassment
and unprovoked firing by the Special Services Bureau in Siliguri,
West Bengal on 8 June 2003;
17 June 2003: Complaint against alleged torture
and subsequent death of L Bhoominaathan alias Kuttiyappan (35
years) from his house at Manimutheeswaram village under the Thatchanallur
police limits under Tirunelveli on the night of 15 June 2003;
17 June 2003: Complaint against alleged extrajudicial
execution of Mr Lalkholun Hangsing of Wakotphai in Senapati district
under Kangpokpi police station by the 25th Assam Rifles
personnel on 19 May 2003;
20 June 2003: Complaint alleged torture and
custodial death of one Ganesan (50) of Pudur village under Thanjavur
of Tamilnadu on 18 June 2003l;
23 June 2003: Complaint against alleged torture
and custodial death of one Mr. Qayyum, a suspect in the murder
of one Srinivas, by Andhra Pradesh Police of Sadasivapeta police
station, under Sangareddy of Medak district, Andhra Pradesh on
19 June 2003;
27 June 2003: Complaint against alleged torture
of two minor Dalit boys - Gobinda Mallick (17) and Ashok Mallick
(16) in Nuagaon village in Jagatsinghpur district of Orissa;
2003: Complaint against
custodial death of Gurupado Gope who succumed to his injuries
at Dhanbad’s central hospital, Jharkhand on 2 July 2003 after
battling for life since June 26, 2003;
14 July 2003: Complaint for full implementation
of the of the Supreme Court judgement in the case of NHRC Vs State
of Arunachal Pradesh (CPW 720 of 1995) of 9 January 1996;
16 July 2003: Complaint against the inhumane
torture and custodial
death of Mr Suresh Kumar in the custody of Lambi Police under
Batinda district of Punjab on 14 July 2003;
18 August 2003: Complaint against custodial
death of a Dalit, Vasant Ravji Vankar who was found dead in the
Sabarmati police station, Ahmedabad, Gujarat on 14 August 2003;
27 October 2003: Complaint against the custodial
death of Mr Deben Sardar, 46, of Sardarpara, Arabpur, Nadia District,
West Bengal in the custody of the Hogalberia Police Station on
12 October 2003;
14 November 2003: Complaint against alleged
brutal beating of juvenile Samran Desai (16) at Mahim police station
in Mumbai, Maharashtra on 10 November 2003;
14 November 2003: Complaint against
alleged tortured to death of one Nitai Sarkar (35) Rakshmari area under Dhekiajuli police station of Sonitpur district of Assam on the evening of 7 November 2003;
28 November 2003: Complaint against alleged
custodial death on one Sheikh Bana, 40, in Digras police station
under Yavatmal in Maharashtra on 11 November 2003;
8 December 2003: Complaint against alleged
torture and custodial death of Beer Singh, a Dalit and a resident
of Dehera village, under the jurisdiction of Dhaulana police station
of Ghaziabad on 6 December 2003;
12 June 2004: Complaint against alleged torture
of Bonison Gustin Fernandes (16) of Chendia in Karwar in North
Kannada District of Karnanataka by Chendia Police on 28 May 2004;
15 June 2004: Complaint against illegal detention
and custodial death of Mr Rangapppa
in the custody of Aijoor Police station in Ramanagaram
taluk in Bangalore Rural district in the morning on 2 June 2004;
5 July 2004: Complaint against alleged beating
and custodial death of Mr Yugal Kishore Chauhan (50) in the custodial
of Loyabad police under Dhanbad district of Jharkhand
5 July 2004: Complaint for impleadment with
Chief Judicial Magistrate, Amritsar against tattooing – Yeh
Chor Hai – of one Mr Rockey alias Fakkar inside Central Security
Jail, Amritsar in Punjab;
14 July 2004: Complaint against alleged torture
and custodial death of Mr Rajiv Sharma (35), resident of Sadar
Bazaar police station area in Meerut city of Uttar Pradesh at
Sadar Police Station, Meerut city on 6 July 2004;
4 October 2004: Complaint against alleged tortured
to death of a pregnant Dalit woman – Smt Bhanumati, W/o Shri Rameshwar
Jatav of Simra village in Pilibhit district of Uttar Pradesh on
the night of 3 August 2004 by policemen;
4 October 2004: Compliant against alleged denial
of medical treatment for delivery to a Dalit woman – Ramrati (20),
resident of Karanpur village in Mohanlalganj on the outskirts
of Lucknow by the doctors at Community Heath Centre, Mohanlalganj,
Lucknow on 30 July 2004
4 October 2004: Complaint against alleged rape
of 30-year-old woman by a Railway Protection Force constable named
kapil Deorai inside a train compartment at Hasnabad railway station
in North 24-Parganas district of West Bengal on the night of 17
5 October 2004: Complaint against the alleged
extrajudicial execution of Jamkholien Changloi alias Yangmilien
(28), s/o Helkholen Chongloi of Saikul Purum Likli by Manipur
Police Commandoes at Khonhsai Veng under Lamphel Police Station
in Imphal West district around 2.30 pm on 31 August 2004.
NHRC wishes to take action on these complaints, Asian Centre for
Human Rights would be happy to provide copies where the stamp
of the NHRC has been given to prove that these complaints were
received but never acted upon.
“The delays (in making its annual reports public)
have amounted to the denial of right to information. The delay
in tabling the annual report before Parliament has resulted in
a corresponding delay in releasing its contents to the public.
In the process, both the elected representatives and the public
have, in effect, been denied timely and comprehensive information
on the work and concerns of the Commission”- lamented the National
Human Rights Commission of India in its Annual Report 2002-2003
wished NHRC followed what it rightly preaches to the government
of India. Once NHRC registers a complaint, the State authorities
submit the reply. NHRC has no standard practice to provide such
response from the State to the complainant.
the case of shooting on a teenaged youth, Naorem Naobi (15/14/2003-2004)
in Manipur by the police, NHRC received the reply from the State
government of Manipur on 6 September 2003. The NHRC sat over the
reply from the State government of Manipur for about two years
and then issued notice to the Asian Centre for Human Rights on
18 June 2005 directing it to reply by 23 July 2005. As ACHR is
still inquiring from the victim, NHRC will most probably dismiss
the complaint for non-receipt of comments!
The NHRC does not practice right to information.
On 16 December 2002, the
Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas of Arunachal Pradesh
(CCRCAP) filed a complained with the National Human Rights Commission
of India against the non-implementation
and violation of the Supreme Court judgement of 9 January 1996
in the case of NHRC Vs State of Arunachal Pradesh & Anr
(720/1995). After one and half year, on 27 May 2004, the
National Human Rights Commission in its letter (D.O NO.5/1/2001
– PRP&P) forwarded the excerpts from the Ministry of Home
Affairs and requested the CCRCAP to comment on those excerpts.
29 July 2004, the CCRCAP requested the NHRC to give the “permission
to inspect the complete file” as the two paragraph excerpts from
the response from the Ministry of Home Affairs is insufficient
to submit comments. In a telephonic call, one secretary to the
Deputy Secretary (Research) informed that NHRC couldn’t give permission
to inspect the file. There has not been any written communication
from the NHRC.
inability of the complainants to study full replies of the government
authorities has negative effects on the determination process
of the NHRC. It simply favours the State authorities.
any case, it is only those complainants and NGOs which are based
in Delhi and are aware of the basic principles on fair trial that
can request to inspect the files, if granted.
In a number of cases, Asian Centre for Human
Rights has not received any response except the initial acknowledgement.
Some of the cases are given below:
- Torture to death of Farman Ali (Case No.
327/25/2003-2004/UC): NHRC issued the notice the State government
of West Bengal on 12 September 2003 to reply in four weeks.
- Custodial death of Md. Anil (Case No. 446/25/2004-2005-AD/UC):
NHRC issued the notice on 29 July 2004 to Director General of
Police, West Bengal asking him to submit the requisite report
within 4 weeks.
- Custodial death of Lakhsminarayan/ Nagabhushanam
(Case No.614/1/2003-2004-AD/UC): NHRC issued the noticed on 21
March 2004 and directed the District Magistrate and Superintendent
of Police, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh to explain as to why intimation
about the death in police custody was not sent to the NHRC in
time within 2 weeks.
Boya Vekatanna (Case No.6/1/2003-2004-AD/UC): NHRC registered
the complaint on 9 April 2003 and directed the Director General
of Police, Andhra Pradesh to submit the post-mortem, inquest and
magisterial inquiry reports within 4 weeks.
- Rape of Smt. Gangavalli Pushpakumari by a
Sub-Inspector (Case No. 248/1/2004-2005-WC/UC): NHRC registered
the complaint on 12 July 2004.
- Rape of Mrs. Manju Boro (Case No. 52/3/2003-2004-AF/UC)
by two army jawans: NHRC registered the complaint on 12 September
Torture and Custodial death of Animul Islam (Case No. 52/3/2003-2004-AF/UC):
NHRC registered the complaint on 1 September 2003 and directed
to reply in four weeks.
Illegal detention of Mukesh Kumar (Case No.220/34/2003-2004/UC):
NHRC registered the complaint on 15 July 2003.
- Custodial death of Shiv Charan (Case No 2120/7/2003-2004-AD/UC):
NHRC registered the case on 31 December 2003.
- Custodial death of Khamela (Case No 417/12/2003-2004-AD/UC):
NRHC issued the first direction on 15 July 2003
- Torture of Nashir Ahmed, Abdul Wahid &
his family (Case no 18/14/2003-2004-PF/UC): NHRC issued the order
on 12 August 2003.
- Sexual harassment of Ms Forest Gaite (14)
and Ms Gangte Veng (Case No 22/14/2003-2004-PF/UC): NHRC issued
the direction on 12 September 2003.
- Illegal detention and custodial death of
Dollchand (Case No 9802/24/2003-2004-AD/UC): NHRC issued direction
on 17 July 2003.
- Torture and custodial death of Haliram Saikia
(Case No. 29/3/2003-2004-AD/UC): NHRC registered the complaint
on 1 July 2003.
- Killing of Maibam Dhanashyam alias Yangba
(22) and Ngangom Binoy alias Bobo (Case No. 14/14/2003-2004-AD/UC):
NHRC registered the complaint on 30 July 2003 and issued notice
to the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India,
and DGP, Manipur to send report within two weeks.
- Extrajudicial killing of Kamkholal Haokip
(17) and his younger brother Sumkhosat Haokip and Satkholun Haokip
(15) (Case No 16/14/2003-2004-AF/UC): On 25 July 2003, the Commission
ordered Defence Secretary, Government of India, and DGP, Manipur
to submit report within four weeks.
- Torture of Hemlun Kipgen and extrajudicial
killing of Seikholen Kipgen (Case No. 17/14/2003-2004-PF/UC):
The Commission considered it on 1 August 2003.
- Torture of Reel Mehenpha, Franky Chara, Seloky
Chara and SB Borniching (Case No. 2/14/2003-2004-AF/UC): On 12
May 2003, NHRC issued notice to Chief Secretary, Ministry of Home
Affairs, Government of India to submit report within four weeks.
- Custodial death of Dipak Kumar Swain (35)
(Case No. 32/18/2003-2004/OC): On 22 May 2003, the Commission
asked the Superintendent of Police, Balasore, Orissa, to submit
the Action Taken Report within 6 weeks.
- Custodial death of juvenile delinquent Sukant
Das (Case No 185/18/2003-2004-AD/UC) - on 19 July 2003, the Commission
issued notice to the DGP Orissa to submit report within 4 weeks.
the above complaints of the ACHR, which are about 2 years old,
are not old enough by NHRC standards to give any reply, there
are other NGOs which have not received any reply for over 4 years.
The NHRC failed to communicate any reply in the case of custodial
death of Benudhar Daimary (Case No 155/3/2000-2001-AD of 22 January
2001), rape of Ms Mayanti Reang (Case No. 8/23/2002-2003/OC WC
of 20 April 2002, torture of Neo Sing Hasnu and his family and
extrajudicial execution of Bijendra Hasnu by Assam Police (Case
No. 403/3/2002-2003/UC of 17 June 2002), custodial death of Rupen
Mushahary (case no. 68/3/2002-2003-CD
of 26 July 2002), alleged torture and custodial death of Hiking
Lyngdoh 1(3/15/2002-03/CD of 1 October 2005) and torture of Kuki
villagers (Case No. 16/14/2002-2003/OC of 5 October 2002).
NHRC rightly laments the government of India for not amending
the Human Rights Protection Act of 1993, the statutory strengths
in-built under the Human Rights Protection Act of 1993 have not
helped. Section 3 of the Human Rights Protection Act (HRPA) of
1993 requires that among five members three must senior most judges
respectively the Chairperson who has been a Chief Justice
of the Supreme Court; one Member who is or has been, a Judge of
the Supreme Court and one Member who is, or has been, the Chief
Justice of a High Court.
The fact that three out of five members of
the NHRC consist of persons who have been Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court, a judge of Supreme Court and a Chief Justice of
the High Court has not resulted in the NHRC upholding the cardinal
principle of administration of justice. The cardinal principle of jurisprudence requires
that both the prosecution and defence must be provided copies
of each other replies. In a number of cases cited below, Asian
Centre for Human Rights has not received except the acknowledgement
and the final order. ACHR was never permitted to submit comments.
It is more
disappointing considering that the NHRC exercises the powers of
a civil court relating to inquiries under section
13 of the HRPA.
“Kangaroo Court” may not be just another epithet to describe the
National Human Rights Commission of India.
the case of alleged extra-judicial execution of 14-years-old Jitendra
Reang, a class VIII student of Ranguna High School under Pechartal
Police Station of North Tripura district of Tripura by Tripura
police on 11 February 2002, NHRC registered the complaint (No.
24/23/2002-2003/UC) on 4 September 2002. Thereafter, there was
no information from the NHRC until 28 March 2005 when it gave
its final order and closed the case. Asian Centre for Human Rights
was never given any information about the proceedings despite
that NHRC received report from the State government of Tripura
on 12.1.2003 and 3 December 2004.
Even though the victim was killed by the police, the State
Government of Tripura took “a decision to provide assistance to
the next of kin of Jitendra Reang under the assistance to the
victims of extremists violence".
another case, pertaining to the gang rape of a Reang tribal girl
by three Special Police Officers of Tripura Police on 26 May 2003
(Case No. 5/23/2003-2004-WC/UC), the NHRC did not provide any
information to the Asian Centre for Human Rights except the acknowledgement
on 6 June 2003 and its final order on 1 January 2005. The
NHRC held proceedings on 21.7.2004 and 15.9.2004.
NHRC should share the responses from the State authorities depends
on the whims and fancies of the individual member of the NHRC
or possibly the Assistant Registrar. As the above cases show,
it is not mandatory for NHRC to involve the complainant and it
delivers ex-parte order without giving any opportunity to the
complaint to submit his or her comments. It
is a sacrilege of justice.
NHRC often dismisses the complaints
on frivolous grounds. While NHRC takes little action when the
State authorities fail to provide response within stipulated time,
if the complainant cannot provide the information in time, the
cases are summarily closed.
Asian Centre for Human Rights vide its written
complaint dated 5 July 2004 filed a complaint (No.44/3/2004-2005-WC/UC)
seeking the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission
into the gang rape of an Adivasi woman of Padmapakuri village
under Gossaigaon police station in Kokrajhar district of Assam
by three jawans of the 11th J & K Light Infantry
Regiment during the night of 29 June 2004. On 16 September 2004,
the NHRC sent a copy of the Action Taken Report of the Superintendent
of police of Kokrajhar district to the ACHR. The Commission sought
the comments of the ACHR in response to which the AHCR requested
the Commission to direct the State Government of Assam to submit
findings and recommendations of the magisterial enquiry. As the
findings and recommendations of the magisterial enquiry was a
part of the action taken by the State Government of Assam, it
was necessary for ACHR to have a copy of the same to make its
comments and therefore, ACHR requested the commission to send
a copy of the same. On 8 February 2005, the Commission informed
the complainant that the case has been close for non-receipt of
comments of the complainant!
NHRC is a law unto itself without any established
Asian Centre for Human Rights has been raising
the issue of lack of protection of witnesses/complainants. NHRC
as a routine matter forwards the complaints to the concerned authorities
who are invariably the security forces.
Across the world, complainants face intimidation
and harassment from the security forces. Every year, the United
Nations Commission on Human Rights adopts a resolution on “Cooperation
with representatives of United Nations human rights bodies”. The
resolution urges Governments to refrain from all acts of
intimidation or reprisal against:
Those who seek to cooperate
or have cooperated with representatives of United Nations human
rights bodies, or who have provided testimony or information to
Those who avail or have
availed themselves of procedures established under United Nations
auspices for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms
and all those who have provided legal assistance to them for this
Those who submit or have
submitted communications under procedures established by human
Those who are relatives
of victims of human rights violations;
It is a standard practice in the UN system
that when a complainant requests anonymity, the request must be
respected to ensure his/her safety, security and dignity. NHRC
has failed to introduce any reform in this regard.
most of the cases, NHRC cannot investigate the complaints.
NHRC fails to indicate as to how many cases it investigated.
With regard to the complaint (D.O
NO.5/1/2001 – PRP&P) filed by the CCRCAP on 16 December 2002,
it was the NHRC
which was constrained to approach the Supreme Court of India to
protect the lives and liberties of the Chakmas and Hajongs of
Arunachal Pradesh after the State government of Arunachal Pradesh
failed to comply with is the directions in 1994-95.
In its reply, the State government reiterated the lies
that the Chakmas and Hajongs are being given all the facilities.
the CCRCAP filed the complaint, NHRC on many occasions promised
to send its Special Rapporteur to visit Chakma and Hajong inhabited
areas of Arunachal Pradesh. Both Mr Shankar Sen, former Director
General of Investigation of the NHRC and Mr Chaman Lal, Special
Rapporteur of the NHRC were scheduled to visit. But NHRC failed
to send any team so far.
fact that the NHRC could not send any investigation on a case
in which it approached the Supreme Court of India shows the lack
another complaint (No.100/3/2002-2003) against police atrocities
including torching of the houses at the Hojaipur village under
Diphu police station, Karbi Anglong, Assam on 25 August 2002,
Dimaraji Mohila Samaj (Damaraji Women’s Organisation),
Hojaipur branch of Assam alleged that a combined police team comprising
of the Central Reserve Police Force, Black Panthers, Assam Police
etc. under the command of Mr. K K Sarma, Superintendent
of Police of Karbi Anglong attacked the Hojaipur village on 25
August 2002. The police team allegedly dragged the villagers out
of their houses and torched the houses to ashes along with their
belongings without any provocation.
people were rendered homeless and reduced to destitute. The police
force surrounded the village and did not allow the villagers to
recover anything from the burning houses. Referring to the atrocities
committed by the Superintendent of Police, the Mohila Samaj further
said that he perpetrated similar atrocities at Dhansiri and other
parts of the region.
Yet, NHRC gave its judgment on the basis of
the report filed by the same Superintendent of Police Mr K K Sarma
against whom the complaint was filed in the first place. Mr Sharma
reported that “the socalled victims of the petitioners have burnt
their own houses themselves for reason known to them”.
NHRC, which consists of renowned judges, follows such a bizarre
procedure where the accused can act as judge and jury of his own
conduct, how could a common man trust NHRC as “fair, reasonable
and just” institution?
to the 7th Annual Conference of the National Human
Rights Institutions in Seoul in September 2004, NHRC issued a
press release stating that the Ministry of External Affairs informed
that Burmese refugees could stay in India
till their refugee status is confirmed by the office of the UN
High Commissioner for Refugees. The NHRC sought clarification
from MEA and Ministry of Home Affairs and Commissioner of Police,
Delhi, with regard to the allegations made in the complaint filed
by the Asian Centre for Human Rights. It was possibly pertaining to the complaint
no.2893/30/2003-2004/UC. Since September 2004, ACHR has not received
a copy of the response of the Ministry of External Affairs from
the NHRC! ACHR
came to know about it only through the media.
h. Lack of follow up for prosecution
NHRC in its 1999-200) Annual report stated that it provided compensation
to the tune of Rs 7,67,83634 in 598 cases. The NHRC often orders
interim compensation but seldom follows up final compensation.
compensation is awarded, there is no follow up for prosecution
of the culprits. It ends with compensation.
NHRC participates in a meeting related to the refugee issue, NHRC
proudly refers to the case of NHRC vs. State of Arunachal Pradesh
and Anr (C.W.P. No. 720 of 1995). The National Human Rights
Commission had approached the Supreme Court of India to protect
the lives and liberties of the Chakmas and Hajongs in Arunachal
Pradesh. In its judgement on 6 January 1996, the Supreme Court
among others directed the Central Government and the State government
of Arunachal Pradesh to process the citizenship applications of
those who had migrated and protect the lives and liberties of
the Chakmas and Hajongs.
years have passed, not a single Chakma and Hajong has been granted
citizenship. The NHRC has failed to follow up implementation of
its own case.
is beyond the powers of the NHRC to address the statutory limitations.
The NHRC has indeed raised many of these issues. Chairman of the
NHRC Justice A S Anand
has regretted that amendments to the Human Rights Act are yet
to be implemented despite the commission's recommendations about
five years ago.
the attitude of the government of India remains condemnable, what
about the operational inefficiencies of the NHRC? NHRC in fact
cannot make any excuse. There is no need for statutory changes
to address operational inefficiencies but mere instructions from
the Chairperson or the Secretary General to clear up the clogged
up system. In this regard, Asian Centre for Human Rights makes
the following recommendations to the NHRC.
NHRC must establish an
in-house complaint mechanisms against non-registration of complaints
NHRC must make it mandatory to provide all the responses from the
State to the complainants WITHOUT ANY CENSORSHIP. If the State
authorities request to keep certain information confidential,
the complainant must be informed to enable him/her to take necessary
measures including appealing to the NHRC or the courts;
NHRC must set a specific time frame within which the responses from
the state authorities be forwarded to the complainant;
NHRC should develop a computerized system where all the complaints
must come up for scrutiny/follow up every six months;
NHRC should develop mechanisms to consider appeals against the closure
of complaints on frivolous grounds;
NHRC must develop mechanisms to protect the complainants and order
not to provide the addresses of the complainants to the authorities
if so requested and that NHRC must publicise in its website that
the complainants can request to remain unanimous;
NHRC must order that under no circumstances, the police officer/s
against whom the allegations are pending be requested to conduct
the inquiries against himself/herself;
NHRC must create a separate unit for implementation of its judgements
or orders obtained from the courts.