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The National Human Rights Commission, India has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that ten infants were killed in a fire that swept through the Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) at Bhandara District General Hospital in Maharashtra on 09.01.2021. The fire reportedly broke out at around 1.30 am and the hospital administration could rescue only seven out of the seventeen children kept in the ward. A relief of Rs 5 lakhs has been announced by the state government from the Chief Minister’s Fund to each bereaved family and a state wide fire audit has also been announced. A case of accident has been reportedly registered and further investigation is being conducted.

The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and DGP, Government of Maharashtra calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks.

The Director-General of Police is also expected to inform the Commission about the outcome of the investigation being conducted by the police authorities. The report must contain the fire audit reports of various hospitals in the state as well as what measures have been taken or contemplated to be taken by the state against the erring or negligent officers/officials so that they cannot go with impurity.

Issuing the notices, the Commission has observed that the victim babies were in the custody of a state-run hospital where they lost life. Hence, the state cannot escape its responsibility. This is a serious issue of violation of human rights for which the accountability of the negligent officers/officials is required to be fixed, with retrospective effect. The monetary relief alone is not sufficient to compensate. Further, it is imperative to ensure that the support systems in various hospitals in the state must provide adequate care and attention to the patients for protection of their human rights.

According to the media reports, prima facie, the fire perhaps originated from the Air Conditioner and the victim babies died due to suffocation caused by the smoke. Reportedly, a committee headed by the Health Director will probe the incident and submit its report within three days. Electrical Department officials are reportedly investigating into the exact cause of the fire as reported by quoting the Superintendent of Police of Bhandara district.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 11-01-2021]

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The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that 3 minors among 7 persons have died in a candle factory fire in Ghaziabad district of Uttar Pradesh on 05.07.2020. Reportedly, the factory was operating illegally without adequate paperwork, at an under construction house. It is stated that by the time police, fire officials and the local residents rescued the persons trapped in the building, 7 people were charred to death.

The injured have been admitted to the Subharti Medical College at Meerut and the cause of fire is being investigated by the authorities.

The Commission has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh calling for a detailed report in the matter, within four weeks including the action taken against the factory owner and the delinquent officers/ officials, status of the medical treatment being provided to the injured and relief/ rehabilitation provided to the aggrieved, by the State.

It is necessary for the local administration to fix the responsibility of the concerned officer and start departmental/ criminal proceedings against them, immediately to ensure justice to the victims and their families.

Issuing the notice the Commission has observed that it is mentioned in the news report that once a police team had conducted a raid at the alleged illegal factory but no action was taken by them. The factory has been operational for a period of one and a half years hence, it is difficult to believe that the local authorities were not aware of the said illegal unit under their jurisdiction. The incident indicates towards sheer negligent attitude of the civil as well as police authorities due to which several people have lost their lives and many are seriously injured. This is a case of violation of human rights.

According to the media report, the SP, Rural, Ghaziabad has informed that the FIR has been reportedly registered against the factory owner and it is stated that the guilty will be arrested soon. The eyewitnesses have reportedly stated that there were approximately 40 people working in the small building and there was a loud explosion followed by screams when the local people rushed to the spot. It is also stated by the local residents that the police team had once come to raid the particular place but they were perhaps paid off by the factory owner. A police officer posted in Modi Nagar PS has now been placed under suspension as mentioned in the news report. Some workers at the factory reportedly could escape by breaking a wall of the factory, who were working on the other part of the building.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 06-07-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar, a person tried to outrage the modesty of a woman and when he was not successful, he poured kerosene on her and put her on fire.

The victim woman has suffered 85 per cent burn injuries and has been admitted in the SKMCH Hospital where her condition is critical. Reportedly, the victim’s family had approached the police five times for registarion of an FIR but no acrtion was taken but neither an FIR was registered by the police nor any action was taken against the accused.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the news reports, if true, amount to serious violation of human rights of the victim. Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, Bihar calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks. The Commission would also like to know about the status of the investigation and treatment of the victim woman, who is reportedly in a state of coma at SKMCH Hospital in Muzaffarpur. The report must include whether any departmental action has been taken against the guilty police officials and whether any relief has been granted to the victim/ family.

According to the media reports, the accused who allegedly assaulted the victim has also sustained burn injuries in his hand. The accused, as mentioned in the news report was harassing the victim for the last three years for which the family of the woman had approached the Ahiyapur police station five times, to get an FIR registered but no FIR was registered by the police. Now, reportedly, the police is making efforts to arrest him.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 09-12-2019]

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The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that more than 17 students, 15 to 19 years, were killed in the massive fire which broke out in the four-storeyed building housing their coaching centre at Surat in Gujarat on the 24th May, 2019. Many are still in critical condition, undergoing medical treatment in hospitals.

Considering the incident as a grave violation of the human rights of the young students, the Commission has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Gujarat calling for a detailed report in the matter including status of the criminal cases registered against the building owner and others found guilty along with action taken against the public servants concerned. He has been asked to include in his the legal status of the building, its construction, fire fighting measures, fire safety clearance and relief granted to the grief-stricken families. The Commission also expects that the best and free of cost treatment is provided by the State to the injured persons. Response from the State government is expected within 4 weeks.

Issuing the notice, the Commission has also observed that it has been constantly insisting the authorities to be more vigilant to avoid such tragic incidents. Going by the media reports, it appears that there was no safe passage for the victims, which could have been used as a fire exit in case of emergency. The mere announcement of compensation to the aggrieved families cannot be a solution to such kind of hazards. Several such incidents have occurred across the country where precious human lives have been lost due to negligence by the authorities and lack of Fire Department’s clearance.

According to the media reports, the fire reportedly started likely due to a short circuit at the staircase near the lower floor and engulfed the entire premises. As there was no way out for the people present on the top floor to come out of the building, they started jumping off the building. Some of them have sustained serious injuries. It is mentioned in the news reports that the horrifying incident was recorded by many passersby, which indicates that nearly a dozen teenagers were trying to escape the thick smoke rising from the building, forcing them to jump off to save their lives.

The fire department officials reached the spot and deployed 19 fire trucks and two hydraulic platforms to douse the fire and evacuate the people trapped in the building. An enquiry into the matter has reportedly been ordered by the state government. Reportedly, Rs 4 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased have been announced by the State government and as a precautionary measure all the Tuition Centres/Coaching centre, etc have been ordered to be closed in the area. The fire hazard checks are also being conducted in various places.


[Dated: 25-05-2019]

National Human Rights Commission