Hot Off The PressNews

National Human Rights Commission, India Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report alleging increasing incidents of violence among inmates in Tihar Jail of Delhi.

Reportedly, in yet another incident of inmate clash inside the prison, a 25-year-old prisoner was beaten up by another on 22 September, 2021, which was the sixth incident in this month alone.

The Commission has observed that the contents of media reports, if true, raise serious issue of human rights violations of the prisoners in custody of state. Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and DG, Prisons, Govt. of NCT of Delhi calling for a detailed report with four weeks, including steps taken or proposed to be taken to address the issue of violence in Tihar jail.

Issuing the notices, the Commission has noted that such incidents of violence inside the jail indicate towards negligence by the prison authorities resulting into gross violation of human rights of the inmates in custody of the state.

According to the media report, carried on 24 September, 2021, the latest victim of violence in the Tihar jail told during investigation that he was first abused and beaten up by another inmate. The same day a Head Matron was injured during a scuffle with an inmate. Reportedly, about thirty inmates have been injured during September this year due to clashes in the jail.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 28-9-2021]

Hot Off The PressNews

National Human Rights Commission, India has taken cognizance of complaints alleging that there has been an exponential increase in the incidents of crime against women in Rajasthan.

Allegedly, 80,000 cases were registered in the State pertaining to the crime against women in the last one year. Out of which more than 12,000 are rape cases. Giving the press clippings in support of the allegations, the Commission has requested for its intervention in the matter.

The Commission has observed that the allegations and the incidents appear to be serious in nature indicating violation of human rights. It appears that there has been an unabated crime against women in the State, which raises a question mark on the efficacy of the State Machinery in curbing such crimes. It is the cardinal duty of the State to protect the rights of the women and punish the perpetrators without fail.

Accordingly, the Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary, and the Director-General of Police, Rajasthan directing them to enquire into the specific incidents and submit an Action Taken Report mentioning each of the incidents to the Commission within four weeks. They shall also inform the Commission about the steps being taken by the State for inspiring confidence in the women and the girls ensuring their safety and security in the State.

Highlighting the state of affairs with regards to crime against women, the complainant has drawn the attention of the Commission towards some of the following incidents that happened in the last one month and has requested its intervention in the matter:

1. Kidnapping of a minor girl at Jalore, on 22.03.2021 and self-immolation by the mother of the victim because of the inaction of the authority.

2. Gang-rape of a minor at Kota by more than 30 persons between 25.02.2021 to 06.03.2021.

3. Gang-rape victim was burnt alive at Hanumangarh on 05.03.2021.

4. Gang-rape of a woman at Kota on 06.03.2021.

5. Rape of a woman by the ASI when she came to lodge a report, on 07.03.2021.

6. Rape of a woman at Ajmer on 08.03.2021.

7. Disrobing and beating of the mother and the daughter on 09.03.2021.

8. Attempt to kidnap and rape of a teacher on 13.03.2021.

9. Attempt to rape of a woman at the DCP Office by the ACP, on 14.03.2021.

10. Rape of a patient in the ICU by the Nursing Person at Jaipur, on 15.03.2021.

11. Rape and making an obscene video of a woman on 15.03.2021.

12. Many incidents like gang-rape of a minor at Jhunjhunu, rape of a 6-year-old child in Sri Ganganagar, sexual harassment of a girl in Bhilwara, kidnapping and rape of a minor at Alwar, rape and making of obscene video of a girl, on 18.03.2021.

13. Beating by use of lathi of a pregnant daughter at Village Sirana, Pali, on 19.03.2021.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 26-03-2021]

Hot Off The PressNews

Cause of Suo Motu Cognizance

The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that in Etah district of Uttar Pradesh, two policemen got involved in a squabble at a ‘dhaba’ (eatery) over payment of bill for the food they consumed. The policemen then falsely implicated and arrested ten people including the brother of the owner of the eatery and eight customers in an alleged encounter with them. The persons reportedly arrested by the police are presently lodged in judicial custody.

To whom did NHRC issue a notice?

The Commission has issued a notice to the Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh calling for a report in the matter within six weeks. A copy of the these proceedings has also been sent to the Member Secretary, Uttar Pradesh State Legal Aid Services Authority to ensure free legal aid to the arrested people, if not provided.

Violation of Human Rights?

Issuing the notice the Commission has observed that the contents of the media report, if true, raise serious issue of violation of Human Rights. The incident, apparently, is a classic example of failure of entire system of checks and balances. Hence, fair investigation is required to be conducted to know where the policemen could manage to procure these items.

What did the media report consist of?

According to the media report, carried on 23.03.2021, the owner of the eatery alleged that on 04.02.2021, two policemen, who were on duty, came and had food at his dhaba and later refused to pay the bill of Rs.400/-. The policemen, reportedly offered only Rs.80/- and the brother of the owner asked them to pay at least Rs.200/-. Some of the customers, present at that time, also asked the policemen to pay the bill. An argument reportedly took place and the policemen started beating the brother of the owner of the eatery. After this the policemen left the place.

After some time, around fifteen policemen reportedly arrived in three vehicles, pointed guns and took away the brother and the cousin of the eatery owner, as well as eight customers with them to the Kotwali (Rural) Police Station and an FIR, was registered against them.

The owner of the eatery, who is specially-abled, was reportedly, spared by the police. The persons arrested by the police are lodged in judicial custody and as per the FIR, ten people, part of a gang, were hatching a plan to commit a crime of loot and the police caught them after an encounter. Six illegal weapons, eighty liters illicit liquor and 2 kg contraband had been reportedly projected as recovered from the persons arrested by the police.

The Additional Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh has reportedly asked the Senior Superintendent of Police, Etah to get an investigation conducted in a time bound manner. The District Magistrate of Etah has also ordered probe into the incident as mentioned in the news report. It is also mentioned in the news report that the Station House Officer of the Kotwali Dehat police station has been placed under suspension.


National Human Rights Commisssion

Case BriefsInternational Courts

European Court of Human Rights (Grand Chamber): In its judgment delivered on 21st January, the Grand Chamber of ECHR, after detailed deliberation and appreciation of evidences, found Russia to be guilty of human rights violations in the 2008 “August War” with Georgia. The said violations included killing and torturing of civilians; the torching and looting of houses in Georgian villages in South Ossetia and in the buffer zone; inhuman and degrading treatment; administrative practice as regards the conditions of detention of Georgian civilians and the humiliating acts to which they were exposed; administrative practice as regards their arbitrary detention; and, acts of torture meted out to the Georgian prisoners of war. These acts of violations also meant that Russia violated several key Articles of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (hereinafter- the Convention).

Background of the Dispute

The “August War” of 2008, Ceasefire and Casualties: South Ossetia and Abkhazia are disputed territories within Georgia. The instant matter is in regards to the armed conflict that occurred between Georgia and the Russian Federation about 13 years ago, following an extended period of mounting tensions, provocations and incidents between the two countries. The confrontation developed into a combined inter-state and intra-state conflict between Georgian forces on one side and Russian forces along with South Ossetians and Abkhaz fighters. In August 2008, Georgian artillery attacked Tskhinvali (administrative capital of South Ossetia). Russia invaded as well and soon the invasion progressed to engulf all of Abkhazia and South Ossetia; the village of Perevi (Sachkhere district), situated in undisputed Georgian territory, and the buffer zone, including the zones bordering South Ossetia and Abkhazia, situated in undisputed Georgian territory.

Subsequently, a ceasefire agreement was concluded on 12-08-2008 between the Russian Federation and Georgia under the auspices of the European Union, providing, inter alia, that the parties would refrain from the use of force; immediately end hostilities; provide access for humanitarian aid; and that Georgian and Russian military forces would withdraw to their usual bases and lines prior to the outbreak of hostilities. The then President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, by a decree, recognised South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent States.

Georgia claimed to have lost 170 servicemen, 14 policemen and 228 civilians killed and 1,747 persons wounded. The Russian side claimed losses of 67 servicemen killed and 283 wounded. The South Ossetians lost around 365 persons. More than 100,000 civilians, who were residing in the nearby villages, were displaced and forced to become refugees. Several instances of human rights violations were reported, including illegal detention in dire conditions of some 160 civilians (mostly women and elderly people) for approximately fifteen days; allegations of killings, ill-treatment, looting and burning of homes by the Russian armed forces and South Ossetian forces; alleged ill-treatment and torture of more than thirty prisoners of war by Russian and South Ossetian forces in August 2008.

The Legal Route: Georgia thus filed an application against the Russian Federation with the ECHR under Article 33 of the Convention on the grounds of indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against civilians and their property on the territory of Georgia, by the Russian army and/or the separatist forces placed under their control. They further alleged that the Russian Federation had permitted the existence of an administrative practice resulting in a violation of Articles 2, 3, 5, 8 and 13 of the Convention; Articles 1 and 2 of Protocol 1, and Article 2 of Protocol 4. They also alleged that despite the indication of interim measures the Russian Federation continued to violate its obligations under the Convention and, was in continuous breach of Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention.

 Contentions by the Parties

The applicant Government (Georgia) raised the following contentions-

  • The violations of the Convention fall within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation under Art. 1 as it exercised effective authority and control over the relevant areas where the violations took place and/or exercised jurisdiction through state agent authority and control.
  • The violations form part of a repetitive pattern of acts and omissions that amount to an administrative practice incompatible with the Convention.
  • Russia has failed to carry out investigations into the incidents forming the basis of these violations.

Per contra, the respondent Government (Russia) contended that-

  • Allegations relate to alleged events that took place outside the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation and outside Russia’s effective control.
  • Georgia’s case relates substantially to alleged conduct of Russian armed forces in an armed conflict and the immediate aftermath of an armed conflict which Georgia started by its attack upon South Ossetia and Russian peacekeepers and nationals in South Ossetia. Russia’s military response was legitimate under public international law and international humanitarian law.
  • Georgia’s allegations of human rights abuse is exaggerated and lacks evidentiary support.

Observations of the Court

While admitting and considering the application, the Court noted the other relevant international humanitarian laws- The Hague Regulations, 1907 and Geneva Convention, 1949 and Additional Protocol. Upon a thorough examination of evidences presented by the parties (including Report of the EU Fact-Finding Mission published in 2009), the Court made significant observations on some of the following key issues-

Regarding jurisdiction- It was noted that the Court needs to determine whether the events which occurred during the active phase of the hostilities fell within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation. Two main criteria established by the Court in this regard are – effective control” by the State over an area (spatial concept of jurisdiction) and “State agent authority and controlover individuals (personal concept of jurisdiction). In the event of military operations carried out during an international armed conflict, one cannot generally speak of “effective control” over an area. It was reiterated that acts of the Contracting States performed, or producing effects, outside their territory can only in exceptional circumstances amount to the exercise by them of their jurisdiction within the meaning of Article 1 of the Convention. Where the territory of one Convention State is occupied by the armed forces of another, the occupying State should in principle be held accountable under the Convention for breaches of human rights within the occupied territory, because to hold otherwise would be to deprive the population of that territory of the rights and freedoms hitherto enjoyed and would result in a ‘vacuum’ of protection within the ‘legal space of the Convention’. Whenever the State, through its agents, exercises control and authority over an individual, and thus jurisdiction, the State is under an obligation under Article 1 to secure rights and freedoms.

Treatment of detained civilians: Considering Georgia’s allegation regarding illegal detention of civilians thus violating Articles 3 and 5 of the Convention, the Court stated that the justification provided by the respondent Government that “the civilians were detained ‘to ensure their security”, is not permitted under Article 5 of the Convention or under the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law. It was noted that there is no dispute as to the detention of civilians (mostly women and elderly) by the South Ossetian forces in the basement of the “Ministry of Internal Affairs of South Ossetia”. The Court also observed that the detainees fell within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation within the meaning of Article 1 of the Convention. The Court considered the reports submitted by The Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and testimonies of the Georgian civilians all of which pointed out the ‘extreme’ lack of space and sanitary facilities available in the place that held the detainees. The Court further observed that the witness accounts and reports mention that some of the detainees were subjected to vexatious and humiliating measures by their captors; “The Russian officials confirmed at the witness hearing that some of the male detainees had been obliged to clean the streets of Tskhinvali, and that they had even “volunteered” to do so in order to escape their poor conditions of detention”. The Court reiterated that, “Article 3 does not refer exclusively to the infliction of physical pain but also of mental suffering, which is caused by creating a state of anguish and stress by means other than bodily, which was undeniably the case regarding the treatment suffered by the Georgian detainees”.

Observing that witnesses and reports revealing the presence of Russian forces in the building, which does not clearly demonstrate the direct involvement of Russian forces in the inhuman treatment; however the fact that the civilians fell within the jurisdiction of Russia, makes the Federation responsible for the actions of the South Ossetian authorities, without it being necessary to provide proof of “detailed control” in respect of each of their actions.

Treatment of PoWs: Georgian prisoners of war were detained in Tskhinvali between 8 and 17 August 2008 by South Ossetian forces. Given that they were detained, inter alia, after the termination of hostilities, it was concluded by the Court that they fell within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation for the purposes of Article 1 of the Convention. It was also observed that there is a sufficient evidence to conclude beyond reasonable doubt that Georgian prisoners of war were victims of treatment contrary to Article 3 of the Convention inflicted by the South Ossetian forces. “Even if the direct participation of the Russian forces has not been clearly demonstrated in all cases, since it has been established that the prisoners of war fell within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation on account of the “strict control” that it exercised over the South Ossetian forces, it was also responsible for the latter’s actions”.

Obligation to investigate: It was observed that the Russian Federation had an obligation to carry out an investigation concerning systematic campaign of killings of civilians after the cessation of hostilities. Even though the events which occurred during the active phase of the hostilities did not fall within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation; however, a jurisdictional link in relation to the obligation to investigate under Article 2 could be established if the Contracting State had instituted an investigation or proceedings in accordance with its domestic law in respect of a death which had occurred outside its jurisdiction, or if there were “special features” in a given case. Since the jurisdiction of Russian Federation within the meaning of Article 1 has been established, therefore the Court dismissed Russia’s objection against the obligation. “Having regard to the seriousness of the crimes allegedly committed during the active phase of the hostilities, and the scale and nature of the violations found during the period of occupation, the Court considers that the investigations carried out by the Russian authorities were neither prompt nor effective nor independent. Therefore, there has been a violation of Article 2 of the Convention in its procedural aspect”.

Displaced persons: The Court also observed that the Georgian nationals who were prevented from returning to South Ossetia or Abkhazia by the de facto authorities of those regions fell within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation. It was furthermore observed that there was an administrative practice contrary to Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 as regards the inability of Georgian nationals to return to their respective homes.

Decision/ Conclusion: Based on the aforementioned observations on certain key aspects of the dispute, The Court was unanimous in concluding that Article 3 of the Convention was violated as regards the conditions of detention of 160 Georgian civilians and the humiliating acts to which they were exposed, which caused them undeniable suffering and must be regarded as inhuman and degrading treatment. The Court with a ratio of 16:1 also concluded that the events which occurred after the cessation of hostilities (from the date of the ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008) fell within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation for the purposes of Article 1 of the Convention; and there was an administrative practice contrary to Articles 2, 3 and 8 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 as regards the killing of civilians and the torching and looting of houses in Georgian villages in South Ossetia and in the buffer zone.[Case of Georgia v. Russia [II], Application no. 38263/08, decided on 21-01-2021]


Sucheta Sarkar, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Tribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

NHRC notice to Karnataka Government over practice of neck deep burying of children in compost pits to find cure for their deformities 

The National Human Rights Commission,  India has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that children with special needs were buried neck-deep in compost pits in Kalaburagi, Karnataka under the belief that exposure to sharp rays during a solar eclipse will cure them of their deformities.

The incidents were reported from three villages in the district: Taj-Sultanpur on the outskirts of Kalaburagi town and Ainolli and Gadi-Lingadalli villages in Chincholi Taluk. Reportedly, following a tip-off, the district child protection task force had rescued the children and reunited them with their families after a medical examination.

The Commission has observed that such rituals tantamount to violation of the human rights of the victim children. There is a need to sensitize the authorities as well as the parents of such children not to victimize the young ones in the name of blind faith.

Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the Govt. of Karnataka through its Chief Secretary calling for a detailed report in the matter.

The Commission would like to know whether, apart from Kalaburagi, this inhuman practice is prevalent in other districts of the State, if so, what action is being taken by the authorities. The report must include if the State Government has issued any guidelines with regard to the subject and status of its implementation. The response is expected within six weeks. The Chief Secretary of the State is expected to look into the matter personally.

Issuing the notice, the Commission has observed that due to spread of COVID-19 virus, the social distancing is being maintained and it is not advisable to organize awareness camps etc. in the villages but through local authorities, with the help of media and various digital modes like video conferencing etc., the awareness with regard to the ill practice and its impact on the tender minds of the children is required to be created amongst the public at large.

Commission has further observed that the ritual appears weird, unethical and cruel towards poor kids, who are being treated with indignity in the name of faith.

Today, when the medical science is progressing and very complicated surgeries are being conducted in the country itself, the young children with deformities required medical care and treatment and not such kind of inhuman practice, which not only subjects them to humiliation but may also cause a kind of inferiority complex. A child who would suffer such trauma will find it definitely very hard to overcome its adverse impact. It will be a nightmare for him/her throughout life.

According to the media report, some sources in the district administration had revealed that the poor children remained buried in the pits for the full duration of the solar eclipse in the rerun of a similar incident reported a decade ago.

The Child Welfare Committee had reportedly intervened into the matter and its Chairman had stated that the rescued children were handed over to their parents after a counseling session. The news report also revealed that one Dr. S. Kamareddy, an orthopaedic surgeon from Kalaburagi town, had offered to perform the rectification surgeries on children, without any cost. The incident was reported earlier also sometime back.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 10-08-2020]

OP. ED.

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”

-William Wilberforce

30th July is marked as the day to spread awareness of the plight of human trafficking victims with a message to make this world a better place to live in.

Human Trafficking manifests modern-day slavery, which is the most brutal form of crimes and one of the most serious human rights abuses. An individual suppressing another by using force and taking advantage of the person’s vulnerability while ravaging dignity and integrity in the most extensive form is what constitutes human trafficking.

Diminishing the self-worth of a person and leading him/her to an environment that is nothing less than prison and forcing an individual to put themselves on exhibit and act like a profit-making machine for the predators/traffickers is the essence of human trafficking.

The primary cause of this phenomenon is poverty, which draws the victim towards the trafficker by putting up their dignity on display with costs. Sometimes in the semblance of religious beliefs or at times parents trying to repay their debts push their young ones into this horrendous trap.

The three most common types of human trafficking are Forced Labour, Sex trafficking and Debt Bondage.

Trafficking in persons is defined by the UN as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs”.

According to the United Nations, following are the elements that constitute Human Trafficking:

The Act (What is done)

Recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons

 The Means (How it is done)

Threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim

 The Purpose (Why it is done)

For the purpose of exploitation, which includes exploiting the prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices and the removal of organs.

 Human Trafficking is one of the gruesome acts for which several organisations have been fighting for more than a decade now.

Prevalence of a generic thought about Human Trafficking, which acts as a common belief among society is sex trafficking. This myopic belief draws a conclusion in the mind of people which is restrictive in nature in turn diluting the understanding of the real aspect of this humongous term.

Every occurrence of human trafficking, which ranges from being forced, tricked or misled into modern-day slavery or enslaving individuals for personal benefit in any manner is disastrous for any individual. If these people are able to escape a shrouded abduction and hidden enslavement, they have specific needs that are unique to their situation. We have leading agencies working on rehabilitation, but the question arises that are we as a society raising enough awareness to tackle this syndrome and put an end to it.

Traffickers lure these victims with the promise of a superior and better life and eventually leads them to be blinded and getting abused. 

Human Trafficking is one of the ugliest forms of human rights violations. It is a torturous web wherein people fall prey to being tortured and exploited with no mercy on them. This gruesome act has no boundaries or discrimination, in fact, a person as old as 60 years to a child aged 5 years could also be in the line of victims/survivors.

This condemnable crime can take a step back every day if we keep taking steps forward in becoming more prudent as individuals and create awareness among people.


† Legal Editor, EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has issued to notices to the Chief Secretary and DGP, Uttar Pradesh after taking sou moto cognizance of media reports that due to the alleged in action by the authorities on their complaint of sexual harassment, a mother-daughter duo from Amethi attempted self-immolation in front of the Lok Bhawan in Lucknow on 17.07.2020. Reportedly, the mother with 90% burn injuries died and the daughter with 15% burns is undergoing treatment in the civil hospital.

The Commission has given four weeks times for the response calling for a detailed report in the matter including action taken against the guilty and the action taken on the complaint reportedly lodged by the victims alleging sexual harassment by someone residing in their neighbourhood. The report must include the status of the medical treatment being provided to the injured woman, her health conditions and any relief given by the authorities to the injured and the aggrieved family.

Issuing the notices, the Commission has observed that the recourse taken by the victims cannot be justified but it indicates towards the reckless attitude of the authorities, who seemingly failed to take a timely action on the complaint lodged by the victims leveling serious allegations of sexual harassment against one of their neighbourers. This is a serious issue of violation of human rights. Had a timely action been initiated, the women may not have been forced to take such an extreme steps.

According to media reports, the family members of the victims have also alleged ill treatment by police personnel and the doctors at the Civil Hospital, when the son of the deceased woman visited her in the hospital. Reportedly, four persons including Amethi District AIMIM president and a local congress party leader have been arrested by the police. It is also reported that the police or the local intelligence unit had no information that the women were going to Lucknow.


National Human Rights Commission

Press Release dt. 24-07-2020

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that a one year old child, suffering from fever and swollen neck, died as he was not attended by the doctors at the District Hospital Kannauj, Uttar Pradesh. After waiting 45 minutes his poor parents were told to take him to the District Hospital, Kanpur for treatment. The poor family, having no money with them was not in a position to take the child to the district hospital and later when the matter came into the notice of some media persons and other officers, the child was admitted in the hospital where he died after sometime.

Looking into the gravity of the reported issue, the Commission has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh calling for a detailed report in the matter, within four weeks including the action taken against the delinquent doctors/ officials of the hospital concerned and status of any relief given to the family of the deceased child by the State Government.

According to the media report, carried on 30th June, 2020, the family of the victim child has reportedly alleged that the doctors refused to treat him and even did not bother to touch the child. The family has alleged that due to sheer negligence by the doctors, the treatment to save the life of the child was not provided in time, which resulted into death of their son. The District Magistrate and the CMO have reportedly denied the allegations stating that the child was brought to the hospital in very serious condition and the doctors had provided necessary medical treatment to the child. Reportedly, a video of a man clinging to the body of his one-year-old son in his arms, his wife sitting at a distance and both crying bitterly, had also emerged from the district hospital of Kannauj on Monday.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the news report, if true, raise serious issue of violation of human rights. This is not the first case of alleged negligence and denial of treatment to the patients by doctors in the recent past. It has come across many such complaints and media reports where the patients even in emergency conditions were not provided necessary lifesaving treatment by the doctors, at various government run and private hospitals in Uttar Pradesh.

The Commission has already expressed its serious concern over the issue of reckless attitude of the doctors and medical staff towards patients in need during this period of crises when the country is fighting against the pandemic caused by the spread of Covid-19 virus.

The Commission on 08.06.2020, taking suo-motu cognizance of death of a pregnant lady due to alleged denial of treatment by many hospitals in Gautam Budh Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh, had emphasized upon the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the government of Uttar Pradesh to issue suitable directions to all the hospitals to comply with the Standard Operating Procedure and not to deny medical treatment to any of the patients who are being brought to the hospital for medical treatment.

The Commission has once again reiterated that such unfortunate loss of human lives due to denial of medical treatment by the hospitals, is gross violation of right to life and basic medical care and the state, being duty bound to protect the lives of its citizens is responsible for such tragic deaths.

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that the body of a man, who died near a government office in Utraula block of Balrampur District in Uttar Pradesh was being dumped in a garbage van by the Municipal workers while some Police personnel stood mute bystanders.

Reportedly, after a video went viral, the Balrampur district administration has placed four municipal workers under suspension and three police personnel. The Commission has issued notices to the Chairman, Municipal Corporation Balrampur and the Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh calling for a detailed report in the matter in four weeks.

Issuing the notices, the Commission has observed that going by the contents of the media reports, it is not expected from the public servants to show such disregard to the body of a deceased. They appear to have acted in a very shameful and inhuman manner. Body of a deceased human being always deserves a dignified treatment. The approach adopted by the police as well as the municipal workers cannot be accepted in a civilised society. They have not only failed to do their duty but also crossed the limits of the sickening cruelty. This is a serious issue of violation of human rights.

The Chief Secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh is expected to issue necessary guidelines to all the district and municipal authorities immediately that the bodies of the deceased persons and people in need of immediate medical care found on the roads, are attended to promptly and treated with dignity. The State government is also expected to identify cremation grounds or burial places for the patients died of Covid infection, so that unnecessary harassment to the relatives of the deceased by locals could be avoided.

According to the media reports, carried today on the 12th June,2020, a Sub-Inspector and two constables could be seen in the video standing as mute spectators while the body of the deceased man was being loaded by the municipal workers in a vehicle meant to carry garbage. The district police authorities of Balrampur have reportedly stated that it was an insensitive incident. The Superintendent of Police, Balrampur has prima-facie found one Sub Inspector and two constables guilty in the matter.


NHRC

Press Release dt. 12-06-2020

Case BriefsCOVID 19Tribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission, India has issued notices to the Government of NCT of Delhi and Union Health & Family Welfare Ministry on a complaint making serious allegations about the difficulties being faced by the general public in Delhi, due to non-availability of beds in the hospitals for the Covid-19 patients and inadequate number of tests leading to a grim state of affairs and mismanagement, resulting in death of a large number of people.

Allegedly, there has been massive delay in conducting the last rites of those died during the pandemic period; tests on the bodies of the symptomatic deceased are also not being conducted violating the WHO and ICMR norms which can be extremely dangerous.

The Commission has observed that the complainant, Mr.Ajay Maken, Ex-President, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee, has not come up with mere allegations, rather he has made apparent sincere efforts to provide data in support of his complaint, which if true, raise serious issue of inappropriate approach of the government agencies towards the plight of the general public amounting to a serious issue of violation of human rights. The data indicates that there is urgent need for taking effective steps immediately by the government agencies.

Issuing the notices, the Commission added that it would appreciate if both the Government of NCT of Delhi and Union Health & Family Welfare Ministry consider the matter in consultation with each other to ensure a comprehensive report within ten days. In the meantime, the government of NCT of Delhi is expected to increase the number of beds and tests per day, for the COVID patients.

The Commission has further observed that there have been many complaints coming to its notice from across the country relating to the difficulties being faced by the general public in getting timely medical treatment for COVID-19 illness and the national capital has been no exception. Suo-motu cognizance was also taken of such matters including one relating to death of a 32 year old Delhi Police constable, who lost to the deadly virus because he was not admitted in the hospital in time.

The Commission added that it also understands that this is an unprecedented situation for the government agencies, hospitals, doctors as well as patients and their families but the State cannot leave its citizens to die without making the best possible efforts. It is not incorrect to state that the number of Covid patients, in the country are increasing day by day and the recovery rate is above 48% but it is also true that a large number of people have died and the National capital is one of the worst affected cities so far.

According to the complaint, received by the Commission yesterday on 9th June, 2020, the COVID positive and its suspected patients are running from one hospital to another for admission, but the hospitals are turning them back. The chart provided by the complainant indicates that the NCT of Delhi has a robust hospital infrastructure of 57,194 beds. It has a significant presence of Central government Hospitals also but it is painful to see that only 12% of the Delhi Government, 8% of the Central Government institutions and 7% of the Private Hospital beds are presently occupied and are being used to treat COVID patients.

It is further stated that in Delhi around 70% dedicated beds are still lying vacant. While the residents of Delhi are struggling hard to fetch a bed in times of Corona crises, the Delhi government, despite confirming availability of beds is not providing the same to the patients who need them to save their lives. The complainant has insisted that at least 70% of Bed Capacity should be prepared and reserved for COVID patients.

The next issue raised in the complaint is that the Delhi Government has 38 Health Institutions or hospitals in Delhi and out of these hospitals, 33 are not accepting COVID patients. Only 5 hospitals have been designated as COVID Hospitals by the Delhi government and as a result, people of Delhi have to run from pillar to post in search of treatment for Covid-19.

The Complainant has also alleged that adequate number of tests are not being conducted by the Delhi government to detect the Covid 19 patients and the private labs which were earlier authorised to conduct the tests for the Covid patients, have been asked to stop conducting the tests.

It is alleged that as per latest bulletin a total 3700 have been conducted while the figure released on 29th May was 7649. The recovery rate of Delhi as mentioned in the complaint, is one of the lowest in India.

The Complainant has further stated that cremations are taking upto 5-6 days after death and relatives of the deceased have been found struggling to find slots. He has also stated that the government of NCT of Delhi is also violating the WHO and ICMR norms by not conducting tests on the bodies of the symptomatic deceased which can be extremely dangerous and may further strengthen the outspread of the deadly Coronavirus as ignoring symptomatic dead bodies means ignoring those who came in contact with such persons.

The complainant has referred to the recommendations made by Dr Mahesh Verma Committee, estimating a requirement of 42,000 beds by mid-July. It also stated that 20% of the beds in Delhi should be ventilator equipped. Hence, Delhi presently requires 1,700 ventilators, and by mid-July, around 10000 ventilators. As stated, there are only 472 ventilators dedicated for COVID patients in Delhi.

Hence in order to protect the lives of the residents of Delhi, there is extreme need to enhance the number of ventilators, immediately.

Praying for immediate intervention of the Commission in the matter to protect human lives in Delhi, the Complainant has also invited its attention towards another issue that the Delhi Government has tweaked and relaxed the definition of containment zones. On 29th April, when there were just 3439 COVID positive patients, Delhi had 102 containment zones. At a time when Delhi has around 30,000 positive cases, the containment zones are merely 183.

The complainant has expressed his concern that to open up areas affected with virus, is a dangerous practice as it will tremendously increase the outspread of the Corona virus, severely endangering human lives across the National Capital.


NHRC

Press Statement dt. 09-06-2020

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNewsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance media reports that the trains which are ferrying the migrant labourers are not only starting late but are taking many additional days to reach destination.

In one of the reports, it is alleged that many migrant labourers lost life during their journey by train due to longer duration and no arrangements for drinking water and food etc.

Reportedly, 2 persons died in Muzaffarpur and one each in Danapur, Sasaram, Gaya, Begusarai and Jehanabad in Bihar including a 4 year old boy. All of them have reportedly died due to hunger. In another incident, a train reportedly started from Surat district in Gujarat for Siwan in Bihar on 16.05.2020 and reached Bihar on 25.05.2020 i.e. after 9 days.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the media reports, if true, amount to gross violations of human rights. The aggrieved families have suffered irrevocable loss. The state has failed to protect the lives of the poor labourers on board the trains.

Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Chief Secretaries of Gujarat and Bihar, Chairman, Railway Board and Union Home Secretary calling for a detailed report in the matter. The Chief Secretaries of the Government of Gujarat and Bihar are expected to specifically inform as to what steps were taken to ensure basic facilities including medical facilities for the migrant labourers who boarded the trains. The response from all the authorities is expected within 4 weeks, positively.

Issuing the notices, the Commission has observed that the Rail network in India is the largest in the world and well equipped with the modern technology, trained staff and other infrastructure. A train getting late due to bad weather etc. for some hours is always considered beyond control of the authorities but trains getting lost during journey, reaching unexpected destinations and taking more than a week to reach its scheduled station is hard to believe and require a thorough investigation into the matter.

It further observed that the poor labourers, who have already suffered a lot in a distant places and are desperate to reach their homes to meet family members. It is a matter of concern for it as they are being subjected to such a treatment by the Railway authorities, which borders around barbarism. The poor labourers cannot be treated in such an inhuman manner just because they are poor and the government has paid for their tickets. Any shortcoming on the part of the government agencies cannot be covered under excuse of unprecedented situation amid countrywide lockdown.

The Commission noted that a large number of people have fallen prey to Covid-19 virus in India and hundreds have lost life so far. The situation is unprecedented leaving the government agencies, scientists and the public at large totally clueless.

Nevertheless, it noted that the complaints are being received from different parts of the country regarding unnecessary harassment of people by the public authorities. It has emerged from the entire scenario that the people belonging to vulnerable classes have suffered the most. Daily wages workers, small shop owners, rickshaw pullers, cab operators and poor labourers have become the worst victims in the recent days. As the lockdown was announced, it was stated by the central government that wherever a person is staying he/she should stay there only so that the social distancing could be maintained and the spread of the virus could be contained up to maximum.

The Commission observed that it is evident that, due to whatsoever reasons, the migrant labourers started feeling uncomfortable and started protesting to reach their native places. It was mandatory on the part of the host state to take care of them and to provide them basic amenities but the things gradually went out of control and the labourers, in large numbers, started moving on their own by different modes of transport and thousands of them chose to walk on foot. Many labourers lost life during their journey on foot and suffered badly. After reviewing the situation, the central government announced that special trains will start from different parts of the country to take the migrant labourers to their native places.

The trains have started operating and the ticket charges are being borne by the central and the state governments but the sufferings of the poor labourers are not seemingly coming to an end. There have been several media reports stating that in many cases, the labourers are being called to board the train. They are brought to the railway stations in buses without maintaining social distancing. They are put to wait for hours without any arrangements of drinking water, food, shaded shelter and toilets for them. The female labourers, old aged persons, ill persons, small children and specially abled persons are reportedly suffering a lot. Many times the poor labourers have been told to go back as the trains got cancelled.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 28-05-2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench of Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon, JJ., took suo motu cognizance of a news paper report wherein human rights violation of the dead bodies in Delhi have been reported.

Bench took suo motu cognizance of the following report of the Delhi Edition newspaper:

  1.  that inside the COVID-19 Mortuary of Lok Nayak Hospital in Delhi, there are 108 bodies; all 80 storage racks are full and there are 28 bodies on the floor, piled on top of each other;
  2. Lok Nayak Hospital is the largest dedicated COVID – 19 hospital in the city and its mortuary is the repository of bodies of those who died of the corona virus disease or are suspected to have died of it;
  3. on 26.05.2020, eight bodies were returned from Nigam Bodh Ghat, CNG Crematorium because the facility was not in a position to accept more bodies, as only two of the six furnaces were working;
  4. bodies of those who died 5 days ago, are yet to be cremated;
  5. the backlog in disposal of bodies has been caused owing to non-functioning of CNG furnaces at Nigam Bodh and Punjabi Bagh crematoriums;
  6. owing to the CNG furnaces not functioning, wood based cremation, which earlier was not deemed safe, has been permitted; inspite of the same being permitted, the personnel operating the said crematoriums are refusing to take part in wood based cremations;
  7. there is unrest at the Nigam Bodh Ghat; the staff and priests working there have stopped functioning.
 Bench on perusal of the above report stated that, 

We, as citizens of Delhi are pained at the aforesaid state of affairs and as Judges find the situation as reported and if true, to be highly dissatisfactory and violative of rights of the dead.

Court referred to a Supreme Court Judgment in Pt. Parmanand Katara, Advocate v. Union of India, (1995) 3 SCC 248, wherein it was held that,

right to dignity and fair treatment under Article 21 of the Constitution of India is not only available to a living man but also to his body, after his death.

Thus, Court on observing the above mentioned violations of human rights took suo moto cognizance also by the present order brought the same to the notice of Chief Justice to take up the matter in public interest.

Copy of this order be also forwarded to Ramesh Singh Senior Standing Counsel Government of NCT of Delhi as well as to the Standing Counsels of North Delhi Municipal Corporation, South Delhi Municipal Corporation and East Delhi Municipal Corporation, who are entrusted of various Cremation and burial grounds in Delhi, to enable them to obtain instructions and present the facts before this Court.

Matter to be listed on 29-05-2020. [Court on its own motion, In Re; 2020 SCC OnLine Del 610 , decided on 28-05-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Division Bench of Govind Mathur, CJ and Samit Gopal, J., directed the Chief Secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh, Director General of Police, Government of Uttar Pradesh, Director General, Central Reserve Police Force, Vice-Chancellor, Aligarh Muslim University and the Registrar, Aligarh Muslim University to adhere with the recommendations made by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

This Court had by an order asked NHRC to conduct an enquiry for alleged human rights violation at Aligarh Muslim University.

In pursuance to the above, an enquiry was conducted by a 6 member team of NHRC.

Following are the recommendations made by the Commission:

a) Directing the Chief Secretary Govt. of Uttar Pradesh to provide suitable compensation to the six students who have been grievously injured commensurate with their injuries, on humanitarian grounds.

b) Directing the DGP-Uttar Pradesh to identify the policemen (both district police and PAC), as seen in CCTV footages involved in stray incidents of damaging motorcycles and unnecessarily caning the apprehended students which has no bearing on the task of controlling law and order. A suitable action may also be taken against them as per rules and provisions that exist for subordinate officers in UP Police. The police force should be sensitized and special training modules be carried out to inculcate professionalism in handling such situations.

c) Similar directions as in point (b) above may also be given to the Director-General, CRPF for RAF. RAF being a specialized force primarily set up to deal with riots and handle law and order situations, should show utmost professionalism in such crisis situations while at the same time, respecting the human rights of civilians also.

d) Directing DGP of UP, to ensure that the SIT set up vide his order dated 06/01/2020 investigates all the related cases on merits and in a time bound manner. The Hon’ble court may also like to set the time limit and periodic review, if any, for the completion of investigations on time.

e) The DGP UP and Senior Officers are also advised to improve and set up a robust intelligence gathering system. Special steps may be taken to counter rumour-mongering and circulation of disorted and false news especially on social media. This is to better control such law and order incidents that occur spontaneously and unexpectedly.

f) To direct the AMU-Vice Chancellor, Registrar and other authorities to establish a mechanism of better communication with the students’ fraternity so that they are not influenced by outsiders and rusticated unruly students. They should take up all confidence-building measures to rebuild the trust of students so that such incidents do not occur in future.”

The petition has been further listed for 25-03-2020. [Mohd. Aman Khan v. Union of India, Criminal Misc. Petition No. 26085 of 2019, decided on 24-02-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): Mr Divya Prakash Sinha, Information Commissioner directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to disclose and share information relating to corruption or human rights violation irrespective of the fact the information pertains to the intelligence or security organizations, its own officers or matters being investigated by the organization.

In a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by the Appellant, details regarding irregularities committed in allotting LPG distributorship by the officers of the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd., Jaipur and in particular against, Ranjeet Singh, were sought. However, the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) refused to provide any information citing Section 24 (1) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 which states that the intelligence and security organizations are exempted from the Act, but if the issue pertains to corruption or human rights violation, the same shall not be exempted from the exclusion clause, and has to be disclosed under the RTI Act.

During the proceedings, learned counsel for the Respondent, R.S. Shekhawat, Deputy SP and Rep. of CPIO, Central Bureau of Investigation, Jaipur further referred to written statements of the CPIO sent to the Commission wherein it had been submitted that CPIO, CBI is obliged to provide information relating to an allegation of corruption against its own employees and not regarding cases of corruption being investigated by the CBI.

The Commission rejected the contention made by the Respondents and referred to the Delhi High Court judgment of CPIO, Intelligence Bureau v. Sanjiv Chaturvedi, 2017 SCC OnLine Del 10084, wherein it was held that the term “any information” in the proviso to Section 24 (1) includes all kinds of information. It further stated that “The proviso becomes applicable if the information pertains to allegations of corruption and human rights violation. The proviso is not qualified and conditional on the information being related to the exempt intelligence and security organizations. If the information sought, furnished by the exempt intelligence and security organizations, pertains to allegations of corruption and human rights violation, it would be exempt from the exclusion clause.” The High Court concluded that “the only conclusion that can be drawn is that, if the information sought pertains to allegation of corruption and human right violation, it would be exempt from the exclusion clause, irrespective of the fact that the information pertains to the exempt intelligence and security organizations or not or pertains to an Officer of the Intelligence Bureau or not.”

In view of the above, the Commission disposed this appeal stating that the aforesaid judgment shall be applicable in the instant case, and also directed the Director of CBI to sensitize its CPIOs on Section 24 of RTI Act by way of appropriate workshops. [Radha Mohan Sharma v. CPIO, Central Bureau of Investigation, 2019 SCC OnLine CIC 298, decided on 08-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: In a case before the Court, the appellant had appealed against the judgment of the Sessions Court which sentenced them under Sections 302/201/34 of the Penal Code (IPC) to imprisonment for life. The duly proved facts of the case were that the accused persons had murdered the deceased/victims by suspecting them to be ‘Dainees’ (witches).

On adhering to the facts of the case, the Court took note of the fact that inhuman and barbaric practice of witch hunting was still prevalent in parts of Assam and North-eastern State. The Division Bench comprising of Ujjal Bhuyan and Paran Kumar Phukan, JJ. observed that branding of a man or a woman as a witch and then resorting to witch hunting is the most dehumanizing act and is one of the worst forms of human rights violations.

The Bench further highlighted that the Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2015, is awaiting assent of the President of India and needs to be passed soon. The Court said that witch-hunting is a socio-legal problem and needs to be curbed soon. The Court noted that in the North-Eastern states, some people, mostly elderly women, are branded as witches and thereafter they are subjected to severe abuse in the name of getting rid of the evil supposed to be in them.

Terming it a social menace, the Bench observed: “Witch hunting as a phenomenon is not only confined to the State of Assam; it has affected large parts of the country. It is rooted in flawed quasi-religious beliefs, antiquated socio-cultural traditions blended with extreme superstitions practices.”

Terming the act as one of the worst forms of human rights violations, the Court confirmed the conviction of two accused and acquitted one giving him the benefit of doubt. [Bhim Turi v. State of Assam,  2017 SCC OnLine Gau 813, decided on 27.10.2017]