Ruled by Indian National Congress party, Himachal Pradesh has not been free from serious human rights violations.
The security forces continued to be responsible for human rights violations including torture. The National Human Rights Commission recorded three cases of death in judicial custody, two cases of unlawful detention, seven cases of false implication of innocent civilians and six cases of other police excesses from Himachal Pradesh during the period of 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 2,702 complaints were registered against police personnel in Himachal Pradesh during 2006. As many as 1,805 police personnel were sent up for trials during the year.
On 20 April 2007, mother-son duo identified as Ratna Devi and Jagdish, residents of Khagyas village, were reportedly abused and beaten up by a jawan of the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) in Chamba district following an altercation.
On the night 2 August 2007, 14 persons, residents of Baldoa village under Haripur police station in Kangra district, were allegedly tortured and stripped by police personnel headed by the Station House Officer, Haripur in police custody at the Dhera police station. The victims alleged that they were tortured in order to withdraw a dowry death case. All the victims received injuries and one of them had an eardrum punctured. The medical examination, following the court direction, was consistent with the allegations of violation.
As on 1 January 2008, there were two vacancies of judges in the Himachal Pradesh High Court. There were 11 vacancies in the District and Subordinate Courts as of 30 September 2007. A total of 26,781 cases were pending in the Himachal Pradesh High Court and 1,45,059 cases were pending with the District and Subordinate Courts as of 30 September 2007.
The Himachal Pradesh State Human Rights Commission is not function, as the Commission itself stated: “The Commission is not functioning at present due to the reason that the post of Chairperson is vacant”. The post of the commission chairman has been vacant since 16 July 2005 after Justice N.K. Jain resigned from the post on 15 July 2005 after his appointment as Chairperson of Rajasthan State Human Rights Commission. On 16 January 2006, Smt. Chandra Prabha Negi, Member of SHRC resigned. As a result, the SHRC was left with only two members - Shri B.S. Chauhan, Retd. District and Session Judge and Shri I.D. Bali, Senior Advocate, Himachal Pradesh High Court.
There were reports of atrocities against the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in Himachal Pradesh. According to the Himachal Pradesh Police, a total of 101 cases were registered in 2007. These included 38 cases under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act and seven rape cases. The National Crime Records Bureau recorded 92 cases and 17 cases of atrocity against the Dalits and the tribals respectively in 2006.
Conviction rate in cases of atrocities against scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs) was 20 per cent in the State. In tribal areas cases of atrocities were registered under the Indian Penal Code only and not under the Prevention of Atrocities Act.
In May 2007, a Dalit woman Sangeeta Devi, resident of Drabala Sanghthar near Rajgarh tehsil, was allegedly beaten up by a group of about 20 villagers in the absence of her husband.
According to Himachal Pradesh Police, a total of 1132 cases of crime against women were reported in 2007. Of these, 30 were murder cases, 159 rape cases, 7 dowry deaths, 153 kidnapping, 324 molestations and 343 cruelty to women. In the rape cases, most of the victims were minors. 87 cases or 54.71 percent of the total case were minors. Seven cases of dowry death were also reported during the year.
Dam surveys were not conducted properly. In May 2007, Renuka Dam Oustees Sangharsh Samiti demanded a fresh survey of oustees on the basis of the panchayat record and not the revenue record. According to Yogender Kapila, chairman of the Samiti, nearly 1,000 families would lose their homes and land due to construction of the Renuka Dam on the Giri River at Renuka (Dadahu) in Sirmour. However, as per the record prepared by the dam authorities, only 211 families were shown to be displaced. The survey was reportedly conducted around 20 years ago.
Prisons were overcrowded in the State. In September 2007, 50 prisoners were shifted from Nahan Model Central Jail to Kanda jail in Shimla due to overcrowding. There were 360 inmates still lodged at the Nahan Model Central Jail against the sanctioned capacity of 198 inmates as on 12 September 2007.
Police officials often abuse prisoners. In March 2007, acting on a complaint by under trial inmates of the Mandi sub jail regarding police officials’ alleged abuse, the Mandi Sessions judge, ordered an inquiry into the matter by the additional district magistrate. As many as 43 inmates facing trial for various offences had sent a written complaint to the Sessions judge.
- Information received by ACHR from NHRC through RTI Application
- 2006 Annual Report of the NCRB
- IRB jawan beats up woman, son, The Tribune, 22 April 2007
- 14 villagers allege police atrocities, The Tribune, 1 September 2007
- Supreme Court of India, Court News- October – December 2007, available at: http://supremecourtofindia.nic.in/CtNewsOct_Dec07.pdf
- Himachal Pradesh State Human Rights Commission, see http://himachal.gov.in/hphrc/about.htm
- Himachal Pradesh Police, Crime against weaker sections, available at: http://admis.hp.nic.in/himpol/Citizen/crimeTrends.aspx
- SC/ST cases - Cops to look into poor conviction rate, The Tribune, 12 June 2007
- Dalit woman beaten up, The Tribune, 21 May 2007
- Himachal Pradesh Police, Crime against women, available at: http://admis.hp.nic.in/himpol/Citizen/crimeTrends.aspx
- Renuka dam oustees seek fresh survey, The Tribune, 24 May 2007
- Respite for Nahan jail inmates, 50 shifted to Shimla, complex to get new wing for 110 inmates by end 2008, The Tribune, 12 September 2007, available at: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2007/20070912/himplus1.htm
- Prisoners’ woes to be probed, The Tribune, 29 March 2007