Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has expressed serious concern over the rising incidents of sexual assault and, taking suo motu cognizance of media reports in this regard today, issued notices to Centre, States and UTs calling for reports on SOP to deal with such cases and use of Nirbhaya Fund.

The Commission has observed that there is a dire need for all the stakeholders to come together to work jointly to get rid of this evil.

Issuing the notices, the Commission has further observed that the largest democracy of the world, which has adopted the longest written constitution and has a rich cultural heritage of gender equality, is today being criticized for having the most unsafe environment for women. The incidents of rapes, molestation, gender-based discrimination and other such atrocities against women have, unfortunately, become routine media headlines.

The Commission has said that these incidents indeed involve violations of the human rights of the victims. It is well awake to the seriousness of the issue. Being the apex body for the protection and promotion of human rights at the national level, it considers its intervention into the matter necessary to understand as to where the state agencies and other stakeholders are lacking on their part and what can immediately be done.

There have been constitutional and statutory provisions to ensure that the women are not subjected to any kind of discrimination and harassment but there is an alarming trend indicating that things are getting worse amounting to a violation of right to life, liberty, dignity and equality of women across the country.

Recently, a number of such cases have been reported by the media wherein, the women have been subjected to sexual abuse, utmost cruelty and inhuman treatment by the perpetrators showing grave disrespect towards law. There have been instances where the incidents have been reportedly, occurred due to gross negligence by the administration and the law enforcing public agencies.

In Telangana, a 26-year-old veterinarian was reportedly, brutally gang-raped and killed by four accused persons. The culprits not only outraged the dignity of the victim but also killed her and burnt her body. As per media reports, the brother of the victim had approached the Shamshabad police station at around 11.00 PM reporting that his sister is unreachable for the last two hours but his worries were shrugged off by the police personnel and after occurrence of the incident, the FIR was also registered after delay. Though the accused have been arrested but had the timely action been taken by the police, the gruesome incident could, perhaps, be stopped. In another incident, a 25-year-old law student was also reportedly gang-raped by a group of armed men, in Ranchi, Jharkhand.

In another media report, carried today on 02.12.2019, a 6-year-old girl was and strangled with her school belt in Tonk district of Rajasthan on 01.12.2019. The victim was reportedly missing since the previous day. The police have not made any arrest in this case. There have been number of such cases occurred across the country during the recent past. All these incidents have indicate that making stringent laws and funds for the victims alone cannot change the scenario unless the police officers are specially trained and their attitude towards women’s issues also changes.

There seems to be a lack of “Standard Operating Procedure” (SOP) to deal with such kind of incidents and panic situations. It is alleged that whenever anyone goes to a police station for help after disappearance a major or minor female member, the answer of the police officials generally remains that she might have gone with someone. This humiliating and stereotype mindset is needed to be changed. There is need to effectively address the core issue as this serious challenge has not only created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty in our society but has also badly tarnishing the image of our country.

Through media reports, the Commission has also come to know that the amount made available under the “Nirbhaya Fund” has been reduced and also not being appropriately utilized by the state governments. A news report, carried today on 2.12.2019 reveaLS that since the year 2014, the UT of Chandigarh has been given a sum of rupees 7.46 crores under Nirbhaya Fund but the administration has spent only 2.60 crore out of it. Mere announcements of schemes, making of laws and formation of funds are not going to serve the purpose unless these are properly implemented.

The Commission, knowing that the subject is being looked into by various fora, has issued notices to the Chief Secretaries of all the State and UTs calling for a report within 6 weeks about the status of Nirbhaya Fund in their states including the details about availability of the fund and the money spent, during last 3 years.

The Commission has also issued notices to the Directors General of Police of all the states and UTs calling for their response within 6 weeks about the Standard Operating Procedure and the best practices adopted by them to deal with the matters relating to sexual abuse and atrocities against women including the details of the action taken against the police officers/officials found insensitive and guilty of negligence towards issues related to women.

The Commission has also considered it necessary to call for a detailed from the Secretary, Union Ministry of Women and Child Development, giving details about the schemes/guidelines initiated by the union government and status of their implementation, including Nirbhaya Fund, by the States/UTs. The response is expected within 6 weeks.

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The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports about the rising number of deaths of children due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar since a past few days. Reportedly, on the 17-06-2019, the death toll has gone up to 100. It is also reported that apart from Muzaffarpur, some other districts of the State are also affected.

The Commission has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar and the Secretary, Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, calling for a detailed report in the matter, including the status of implementation of National Programme for Prevention and Control of Japanese Encephalitis Virus/ Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (NPPCJA) and other steps taken to deal with the painful situation. The Commission would also like to know about the status of the treatment being provided to the children, who are presently hospitalized and relief/ rehabilitation provided by the State to the aggrieved families. The response is expected within four weeks.

The Commission has observed that in spite of reported measures taken by the government agencies, deaths of children in such a large number indicate towards a possible flaw in the proper implementation of the vaccination and awareness programmes. Not only vaccination but all precautionary measures, such as cleanliness and hygiene, etc. are also required to be taken sincerely to ensure that young kids do not fall prey to the fatal disease. It is a case of violation of human rights of the victim children and their families, as the State appears to have failed to protect the young innocent lives.

Expressing serious concern over the spread of fatal viral infection, it has further observed that Encephalitis has claimed lives of a large number of children in India. Sometimes back, the Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh suffered a lot due to Japanese Encephalitis when about 60 children had lost a life. The Commission was informed that the Government of India has introduced National Programme for Prevention and Control of Japanese Encephalitis Virus/ Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (NPPCJA). The report mentioned various measures being taken to control the virus.

According to the media reports, while 76 children have died at the SKMCH, 17 deaths have been recorded at the Kejriwal Matrisadan, since January this year. As per the report, currently, 115 patients are being treated at the two hospitals. It is also mentioned that the State Health Minister has sent a team of doctors and an adequate number of paramedical staff from Patna to Muzaffarpur. The Union Health Minister had visited Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) in Muzaffarpur on the 16-06-2019.


[Dated: 17-06-2019]

National Human Rights Commission