Appointments & TransfersNews

Justice Arun Kumar Mishra, former Judge of the Supreme Court of India, has joined as the new Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India.

Justice Arun Mishra the 8th Chairperson of the NHRC, India.

Background

He was born on 3rd September 1955. After completing B.Sc. M.A. L.L.B. joined the Bar in 1978 and practised in constitutional, civil, industrial, service and criminal matters.

He was elected as the youngest Chairman of the Bar Council of India in 1998 and particularly focused on the improvement of legal education. During his Chairmanship, the Bar Council of India decided to close the evening Law Colleges and also decided that 5-year Law Course should be started instead of 3 years Course in all the colleges. More than two hundred sub-standard law colleges were closed by the BCI. Also, amount of medical aid to lawyers was enhanced.

He was instrumental in the drafting and implementation of Foreign Law Degree Recognition Rules of 1997 under Advocates Act, 1961; Bar Council of India Employees Service Rules,1996 and Rules pertaining to Foreign Lawyers Conditions of Practice in India.

He was appointed Judge of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh on 25th October 1999 and appointed as the Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court on 26th November 2010 and held the office till his appointment as the Chief Justice of the High Court at Calcutta on 14th December 2012.

Justice Mishra was elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India on 7th July 2014 and held the position till his superannuation on 2nd September 2020. During his tenure as a Supreme Court Judge, he delivered 236 judgements. Out of this 199 were in two Judges Bench,32 in three Judges Bench and 5 in five Judges Bench.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 02-06-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: The Division Bench of Pankaj Mithal, CJ. and Sindhu Sharma, J., upheld National Human Rights Commission’s order regarding compensation, whereby the commission had held the government vicariously liable for the death of children in Udhampur district due to consumption of spurious cough syrup. The Bench expressed,

“We fail to understand the hick-up in paying compensation as directed in the present case.”

Background

The instant petition was preferred by the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir for quashing of the orders of the National Human Rights Commission and for quashing of all proceedings in relation thereto. Noticeably, in December 2019 and January 2020, about 10 children died in Ramnagar Tehsil of Udhampur District of UT of Jammu and Kashmir due to consumption of a
spurious cough syrup.

On the complaint by one social activist, alleging that the incident had occurred due to the  negligence of the officials of the Drug and Food Control Department, therefore, appropriate action be taken against its officers and the families of the victims be provided with adequate compensation; the Commission directed for issuance of notice. Pursuant to which a report was submitted by the Under Secretary, Department of Health and Medical Education, Government of Jammu and Kashmir stating that the department had carried out an investigation in
the alleged incident of infant mortality and 33 samples of the left-over/partially consumed alleged cough syrup were collected. The test reports of the Chief Scientist, CSIR IIIM indicated the presence of Parabens, Heavy Metal and Diethylene Glycol and their presence was considered to be the cause of death. Accordingly, an FIR had been lodged under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act against the manufacturers of the alleged cough syrup.

On consideration of the aforesaid report, the Commission found out procedural lapses on the part of the Drugs Department and that it failed to keep a regular vigil on the contents of the medicines. Recording that there was no denial of the lapse on part of the Drugs Department, the Commission held that the UT of Jammu and Kashmir was vicariously liable for the lapses on part of the department and as such it proceeded to recommend for the payment of compensation of Rs. 3,00,000 each to the next of kins of all the deceased.

The grievance of the government was that the manufacture of the cough syrup alone was responsible to compensate the next of kins of the victims and that the State could not be held vicariously liable to pay the compensation.

Court’s Verdict

“Until and unless, the State is held vicariously responsible for such actions or omissions, the Government or its department would never swing into action effectively so as to control the menace of sale of contaminated or spurious drugs. A welfare State cannot escape from the responsibility to compensate the irreparable loss so caused to the families of the victims due to lapses of the Department.”

The Bench observed that lapse on part of the Drugs and Food Control Department was not
denied rather accepted. Thus, the State was rightly held vicariously liable for the omissions of the department in allowing the sale of spurious/contaminated cough syrup so as to compensate the families of the victims. The Bench opined,

“If the said department had acted vigilantly, the sale of the spurious cough syrup which was the cause of the death could have been avoided.”

Lastly, the Bench stated, ordinarily the State of its own always come out with packages and grants of financial help in events of any social carnage or accidental death wherever such incidents gain political mileage. We fail to understand the hick up in paying compensation as directed in the present case. Accordingly, the instant petition was dismissed with the directions to the government to comply with Commission’s order.[UT of J&K v. NHRC, WP(C) No. 388 of 2021, decided on 02-03-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance before the Court by:

For the petitioner: Sr. AAG H. A. Siddiqui

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission reiterating its recommendations for the payment of Rs 1 lakh each to the five victims of police atrocity has asked the government of Madhya Pradesh through its Chief Secretary to pay the balance amount of Rs. 50,000/- each to them.

Commission had registered the case on the basis of a media report alleging that five victim men, belonging to a tribal community, were assaulted by police and made to drink urine when asked for water at Nanpur police station in Alirajpur District of Madhya Pradesh in 2019.

The State Government, in response to the notices of the Commission, had confirmed that the victims were subjected to physical assault in the custody of police but it said that the allegations of forcing them to drink urine could not be substantiated.

It was also informed that the departmental proceedings against the eight erring police officials, including a Sub Inspector were initiated, but the Indore Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, on the basis of a writ petition challenging the departmental proceedings, had stayed these until further orders. It was also informed that on the orders of the Tribal Welfare Department an amount of Rs. 50,000/- each was already paid to the five victims.


NHRC

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]

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that a widow in her late 20s was allegedly sold by her father and aunt for Rs 10,000/-, gang-raped by her keeper his friends and then turned away by the police when she approached them for help. It also reveals that the traumatized woman set herself on fire last month and is not battling for life with 80 percent burns at a private hospital in Delhi.

The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary, and Director General of Police, Government of Uttar Pradesh, calling for a detailed report of the treatment of the victim lady, ensuring protection to her life and steps to be taken for her rehabilitation. The DGP has been further directed to inform the Commission in detail about the progress of the investigation and arrest, if any, be made to the perpetrators. It has called for both the reports within four weeks.

Issuing the notices, the Commission has observed that the contents of the news report, if true, amount to gross violation of human rights of the victim woman. These give an extremely shocking and pulsating narrative depicting vulnerability of the helpless woman, who became a widow at an early age, whereby she had been subjected to huge kind of deprivation of human life and dignity. Moreover, remissness and the act of negligence on the part of police authorities for not registering the case timely by arresting the accused person has aggravated the distressful plight of the lady, which cannot be tolerated in a civilized society governed by rule of law.

The Commission has observed that it has always been keen to address the issues relating to violation of human rights of the weaker section mainly women and children. It is conscious of the fact that the Delhi Commission for Women has issued Notice to the Government of Uttar Pradesh but jurisdiction of said Commission fails to empower them to provide adequate justice to the victim, the lady in question. Any Commission other than National Commission has its jurisdiction within the territory of the State and Delhi Commission for Women is also not an exception. On the other hand, the National Human Rights Commission in view of Section 1 (2) of the PHR Act, 1993, can exercise its power and functions whole of India and therefore jurisdictional issue of Section 36 (1) of the said Act, will not stand in the way to take up the reported incident.

According to the media report, carried today on the 13th May, 2019, the woman from Hapur in West Uttar Pradesh, was allegedly sold after the death of her husband. The man who bought her had taken loans from several people and sent the woman as domestic help to the houses of his creditors where she was repeatedly harassed and raped. The news report also stated that an FIR had now been registered against the 14 persons under the various sections of rape and investigation initiated in the case. The news report also reveals that the Delhi Commission for Women has taken up her case and written to the Utter Pradesh Chief Minister seeking justice for the woman.

It is reported that the woman alleged that she approached the police officials as well as Superintendent of Police, Hapur but they refused to register her complaint, let alone take any action against the accused.


[Press Release dt. 13-05-2019]

NHRC

NewsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of media report that in Pusaina village of district Mainpuri of Uttar Pradesh out of 300 families, 150 have widows in the age of 25 to 65 years whose husbands died after consuming spurious liquor in the last 15 years. Reportedly, around 10,000 to 12,000 litres of liquor is manufactured and sold in the area every day despite police claiming to have cracked down on the illegal trade. The villagers are hesitant to say anything due to fear of the liquor mafia.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the news report, if true, indicate failure on part of the concerned authorities for not taking lawful action against the culprits forcing the distort families to lead miserable lives violating their Rights to Life, Liberty and Dignity. Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks. The report should be comprehensive, covering the steps taken/proposed to be taken by the state agencies along with status of benefits of the social welfare schemes provided to the aggrieved families.

The Commission has further observed that apparently no strict action has been taken by the police authorities and the administration to curb the menace. The illegal business of hooch has been trading in the area for the years together as mentioned in the news report and no action seems to have been taken, to address the core issue. Recently, near about 100 people died in a hooch tragedy occurred in Saharanpur and Kushinagar districts of Uttar Pradesh and Haridwar district of Uttarakhand. As per media reports, the hooch was suspected to be made in the villages that fall near the Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh border.

According to the media report, carried today on the 18th February 2019, that in the Pusaina village there are families, which have lost more than one male member. The noxious alcoholic concoction, that sometimes comes mixed with deadly urea, battery fluid and chemicals, for an instant and extra high, is the main cause of deaths in such a large number.

Reportedly, according to local residents, Of these, 600 to 700 litres is manufactured in the Pusaina village alone, right under the nose of police and the Excise Department. It is mentioned in the news report that usually 60 to 80 litres of liquor is consumed by the villagers per day and the remaining is supplied to the nearby villages and adjoining districts. The liquor made in Pusaina is reportedly very popular due to mixing of urea in jaggery and yeast, to ‘guarantee’ a strong kick.

It is mentioned in the news report that when the correspondent of the newspaper reached the village and talked to one of the women said that if we speak to you, tomorrow we will have to face the consequences for it. This woman, aged 45 years, has lost her husband and also four children between 18 to 24 years of age to hooch, some years ago. The village Pradhan has also stated that the hooch business in the village has now declined in comparison with the past, but it still continues. He has further mentioned that he tried to stop the illegal trade in the village after many deaths occurred but he was threatened by the mafia. Not only this, even the children of 10 years of age are involved in the illegal hooch trade, with the passage of time, they also become the consumers of the spurious liquor.

As mentioned in the news report, the Superintendent of Police, Mainpuri has stated that they have been making sincere efforts to destroy the illegal business in the district and have seized property worth Rs. 11 Crore from some of the kingpins of the liquor mafia and the police parties are also conducting raids, to destroy the network. The news report has also mentioned that a Social Worker, who is also member of the Bal Kalyan Samiti of Mainpuri, has insisted that there should be a rehabilitation programme in the village to end the liquor business and the widows should be provided the benefit of the government schemes but nothing has been done so far.

NHRC

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the Protection of Human Rights (Amendments) Bill, 2018 for better protection and promotion of human rights in the country. Some of the salient features are:

  • It proposes to include “National Commission for Protection of Child Rights” as deemed Member of the Commission;
  • It proposes to add a woman Member in the composition of the Commission;
  • It proposes to enlarge the scope of eligibility and scope of selection of Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission as well as the State Human Rights Commission;
  • It proposes to incorporate a mechanism to look after the cases of human rights violation in the Union Territories.
  • It proposes to amend the term of office of Chairperson and Members of National Human Rights Commission and State Human Rights Commission to make it in consonance with the terms of Chairperson and Members of other Commissions.

Benefits: The Amendment will strengthen the Human Rights Institutions of India further for effective discharge of their mandates, roles and responsibilities. Moreover, the amended Act will be in perfect sync with the agreed global standards and benchmarks towards ensuring the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual in the country.

Background: The amendment to the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 will make National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) more compliant with the Paris Principle concerning its autonomy, independence, pluralism and wide-ranging functions in order to effectively protect and promote human rights.

Cabinet

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Human Rights Commission: The NHRC has taken suo-motu cognizance of media reports alleging failure of the law enforcing agencies in protecting the right to life, liberty and dignity of the innocent people, who have become victims of violence in the Asansol-Raniganj area of West Bengal since the 25th March, 2018. Many people have been forced to leave their houses. Several people have died; a police officer has also sustained grievous injuries in the violence and the situation is reported to be still out of control.

Expressing serious concern over the situation, the Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary, Home Secretary and Director General of Police, West Bengal calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks.

The Commission has also asked its Director General (Investigation) to depute a team headed by an officer not below the rank of SSP to visit the disturbed areas of Asansol-Raniganj for spot investigation/inquiry to assess the actual situation and submit a report within three weeks.

According to the media reports, the people, who dialed No. 100 to seek police assistance, have stated that no police personnel came to help them. The unruly mob has destroyed the public and private properties. There are many families from different communities, as mentioned in the news report, who have lost everything in the ongoing violence. It is also stated in the news reports that according to many victims, the police just stood there for a while and then vanished when the crowd attacked the victims. Apart from this, people suffering from illness and pregnant ladies are the worst victims in the affected area.

However, reportedly, the Commissioner of Police of Asansol has stated that the situation is under control and loud speakers are being used to spread awareness against the rumours and in the sensitive areas, large number of police personnel have been deployed.

National Human Rights Commission