News: With SHRC defunct, none to champion human rights in Pondy

Debjani Dutta / ENS
Puducherry, January 10

The State Human Rights Committee in the Union Territory has become defunct after the term of the Chairman JAK Sampath Kumar expired on December 11, 2010. The three-member committee had been functioning only with two members, the chairman and sister Xavier Mary, following the demise of its other member K A Ahmed.

In Puducherry, there is no existence of the State Human Rights Commission. So far, there had been a State Human Rights Committee (SHRC) which enjoyed only quasi-judicial power.
The SHRC is empowered to inspect the implementation of 11 Supreme Court directions in the D K Basu case and recommend to the government for action in case of violations.

So far the SHRC had made two recommendations to the government, but the status of action was not known.

Since 2002, the committee had received 850 complaints, which included 68 cases have come up before committee, out of which 23 cases are pending.
Now with the SHRC becoming defunct, there is no authority to monitor any violations of human rights. According to the government, plans are on to fill the vacant posts.

G Sugumaran of Federation of People’s Rights says all the 11 directions of the Supreme Court in the D K Basu case have not been adhered to. As per the Supreme Court directions, a police control room should be provided at all district and state headquarters, where information regarding the arrest and place of custody of the arrestee shall be communicated by the officer causing the arrest, within 24 hours of effecting the arrest with the same being displayed in a conspicuous manner on a notice board.

Failure to comply with requirements here in above mentioned shall apart from rendering the official concerned liable for departmental action also renders him liable to be punished for contempt of court and the proceedings for contempt of court may be instituted in any High Court of the country, having territorial jurisdiction over the matter.

However, in Puducherry, though they have displayed the board in the police stations, there has been no information displayed on the control room board giving details of the arrested persons on a regular basis.

With regard to medical care, all the arrested persons have not been checked in a routine manner.

In rare cases, a health check-up has been done in the presence of the police officer or magistrate concerned.

Besides, in very few cases they send the communication to the parents or relatives, says Sugumaran. Moreover, the police never give receipts on complaints in police stations, though in DGP or SSP office, receipts on complaints are given, he says.

There is a need to sensitise the police personnel in this regard.
In Tamilnadu, the police department had been taking the assistance of the human rights activists to take classes for the police personnel on human rights, says Sugumaran.

The New Indian Express / 11.01.2011

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