NHRC not complying with Delhi High Court orders
- ACHR cries contempt of court -
New Delhi: Releasing the report, “ACHR’s Action Against Torture and Other Forms of Human Rights Violations in India”, New Delhi based Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) today stated that the National Human Rights Commission has not been complying with the orders of the Delhi High Court in an act of contempt of the Court. In the report, ACHR which had filed 531 complaints with the NHRC as of 30 April 2009 shares experiences of 186 complaints adjudicated by the NHRC so far.
Asian Centre for Human Rights filed 29 writ petitions before the Delhi High Court against violations of the principles of natural justice by the NHRC. The NHRC, despite being a civil court, does not accord the complainants equal access to the documents submitted by the authorities, equal time and equal opportunity to submit replies. Often, the NHRC adjudicates the complaints without hearing the complainants.
On 8 December 2008, the Delhi High Court directed the NHRC to re-open and re-adjudicate the complaints pertaining to the rape of a pregnant Adivasi woman by army personnel in Assam [Writ Petition (Civil) No.9338 of 2007] and torture of Arjun Paswan by Railway Police personnel in Bihar (Writ Petition (Civil) No.9326 of 2007). Seven months have elapsed but the NHRC has failed to re-open the cases.
On 8 December 2008, the Delhi High Court also directed the NHRC to provide all relevant documents to ACHR in six writ petitions to enable ACHR to review the proceedings with the liberty to approach the Court if it is unsatisfied. These writ petitions relate to unprovoked use of fire-arms against Kiran Rai, West Bengal[WP(C) No.6065 of 2008]; custodial death of Senthil, Tamil Nadu [WP(C) No.6070 of 2008]; extrajudicial execution of Zangokhopao Kuki, Manipur [Writ Petition (Civil) No.6077 of 2008]; rape and extrajudicial execution of Thangjam Manorama Devi, Manipur [WP(C)No.6082 of 2008], extrajudicial execution of Lourembam Maipak & 2 others, Manipur [WP(C)No.6083 of 2008] and custodial death of Ramesh, Karnataka [WP(C)No.6084 of 2008]. Until today, the NHRC failed to supply the documents pertaining to these cases to the ACHR.
“This willful disregard of the orders of the Delhi High Court by the NHRC amounts to contempt of the court.” – stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.
The most grotesque practice of the NHRC is the failure to consider evidence of human rights violations submitted by the police in the adjudication of the complaints. The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Deogarh, Jharkhand had enclosed the Out Patient Department (OPD) Slip dated 12 December 2007 which stated that victim Ganesh Barnwal, a Public Call Office operator was “unable to walk” as he had “pain in whole body” as a result of torture. However, the NHRC dismissed the complaint (No. 1309/34/3/07-08) on the grounds that ACHR “has not sent the copy of the OPD slip of the hospital and medical treatment given to the victim” which the police had already provided!
Though the NHRC had awarded Rs 50.3 lakhs into the 26 complaints filed by Asian Centre for Human Rights, the punishment included only dismissal of three law enforcement personnel from service and arrest of three law enforcement personnel pending trial and departmental action had been taken against 29 law enforcement personnel.
“The degree of punishments are very lenient and therefore, does not act as deterrent against offences such as torture and summary executions by the law enforcement personnel”. – stated Mr Chakma.