Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Human Rights Commission India has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that a 5-year-old girl has allegedly died due to starvation and ill health as the family was not able to get food and medicinal care for her in Agra district of Uttar Pradesh.

The Commission has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary of Government of Uttar Pradesh calling for a detailed report within 4 weeks including the relief and rehabilitation provided to the family by the administration and the action taken against the delinquent officials. The Chief Secretary is also expected to issue instructions to all the district authorities to ensure that such incidents of cruelty and negligence should not recur in future.

The Commission has observed that a five-year-old innocent girl has apparently died due to starvation and illness while a number of social welfare schemes run by the Central and the State Government do exist. During the period of lockdown, the government agencies have specifically introduced number of schemes for the poor, migrant labourers and other vulnerable sections of the society. The State Government has made several statements that they are committed to ensure Right to Food, Shelter and Livelihood for the poor people and have been working on issues relating to labourers and labour laws but this heart-wrenching incident shows a different picture.

The Commission has further observed that it is not understandable what is the benefit of announcement of number of schemes when they do not reach the beneficiaries. A poor girl has lost her life, the breadwinner of the family is suffering from tuberculosis and is bedridden. The family is not only financially poor but also belongs to the Scheduled Caste for which special schemes have been announced by the Central and the State governments.

This is a serious issue of violation of human rights due to gross negligence by the local administration. It is for the local public servants to honestly implement the schemes, so that the poor and needy can avail the benefits which , apparently was not done in this case. Had the authorities been sincere and vigilant, loss of a precious human life could have been averted. The State cannot escape its liability and there is a need to fix the responsibility of the public servants who have not acted in accordance with the law to help the aggrieved family.

Reportedly, the girl was living with her parents and sister at Nagla Vidhichand village in Agra’s Baroli Ahir block. The family was without any work for about a month and in recent weeks the family went without food. Many families in the localities like them do not have a ration card. The five-year-old girl Sonia had become weak and had fever for three days. She could not bear the pain and succumbed to illness and hunger on Friday night.

The local authorities reportedly did nothing to help the family-like securing food in the lockdown-induced crisis. The District Administration has said it will find out where things went wrong and they have taken cognizance of the matter and an investigation has been ordered into the child’s death. Further, the District Administration said that the family has buried the body, which they should not have done as a postmortem would have ascertained the cause of death.

Reportedly, the District Magistrate has agreed that the families are suffering and he will ensure that all possible help is provided to the family.


National Human Rights Commission

Press Release dt. 23-08-2020

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission, India has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that an 18-year old Dalit girl was found raped and murdered in Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh after she stepped out to fill a scholarship form online as she did not have internet access at home. She was a first-generation learner in her family and had aspirations of landing a government job to lift her family out of poverty.

The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director-General of Police, Uttar Pradesh calling for a detailed report in the matter within 4 weeks. The report must mention the status of the statutory relief and any other assistance provided by the state government to the family of the victim.

Criminal intent

The Commission has observed that apparently, the people with criminal intent have no fear and respect for law and the innocent women, particularly from the vulnerable classes of the society are easily targeted by them. This is the duty of the state to make a fearless environment for its citizens so that they can live with respect and dignity.

Murder

According to the media reports, carried today on 27th August, 2020, the girl was murdered by a man whose marriage proposal she had rejected. The man was arrested on Wednesday. The dead body was found on 25.08.2020 in a dried pond in an area that falls under Neemgaon police station jurisdiction.

Heinous Crime

Reportedly, the girl, second of four children of the family, was the one, the parents had pinned their hopes on. She had just passed class 9th and was about to start her class 10th, the first one from her family to study up to that level. The only source of income for the family is a 2 Bigha plot. The girl aiming to get a Scheduled Caste scholarship would have helped ease some of the financial burden on the family but before it could happen, she became the victim of a heinous crime.


National Human Rights Commission

Press Release dt. 27-08-2020

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission decided to get examined the medical report of Vara Vara Rao, sent by the Government of Maharashtra in response to its notices, by the medical expert on its panel. The report is to be given within 02 weeks for consideration of the Commission. Mr. Rao, a Telgu Poet and intellectual, is lodged in Taloja jail in Maharashtra for about 02 years.

The Commission found the submission as reasonable and plausible and accepted it considering the fact that COVID pandemic has affected the State of Maharashtra in large scale. It held the report as comprehensive which included the medical examination reports of Mr. Rao by the team of doctors and other medical reports.

Earlier, taking cognizance of the matter vide its proceedings dated 13.07.2020, the Commission opined that the deteriorating health condition of Mr. Rao is a serious issue of violation of human rights. The Commission directed to issue notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra calling for a detailed report in the matter. The Commission also directed to immediately constitute a Medical Board to analyze the health condition of Mr. Rao. The directions of the Commission were accordingly conveyed to the authorities concerned.

In the meantime, the Commission received several communications regarding his deteriorating health condition. It was communicated to the Commission that Mr. Rao had been tested positive for COVID-19 and that he had been transferred to St. George’s Hospital, which is a State Government-run COVID facility. Considering potential danger to his life, being a COVID positive with co-morbidities, the Commission directed the government of Maharashtra to provide him the best possible treatment at a private hospital without any further delay. The Commission on 17.07.2020 directed the State Government to shift him to the best possible COVID hospital, the same day.

In response to the directions given by the Commission, a report dated 22.07.2020 was received from the Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra. The report confirmed that he was COVID positive with comorbidities. It is further mentioned in the report of the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra that in view of the directions given by the Commission, Mr. Rao was shifted from St. George’s hospital to Nanawati Super Specialty Hospital, Mumbai on 19.07.2020.

The State Government contended that there was no intentional delay in shifting him to the super specialty hospital keeping in view the requirement of arrangements including security. The case being complex one, required proper coordination of multiple agencies, which includes, assessment of the prisoner’s health condition by a team of experts, required procedural compliance, availability of beds in the super-specialty hospital, which is treating COVID cases, proper coordination with the private authorities and adequate security measures for shifting the prisoner. It is also mentioned that constant vigil was kept on the prisoner’s health condition by the treating doctors.


National Human Rights Commission

Press Release dt. 21-08-2020

Legislation UpdatesNotifications

In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 16 of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 (40 of 2019), the Central Government has constituted a National Council for Transgender Persons vide notification dated 21-08-2020. The Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment will be Chairperson (ex-officio) and Union Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment will be Vice-Chairperson (ex-officio).

The National Council shall perform the following functions, namely:—

(a) to advise the Central Government on the formulation of policies, programmes, legislation and projects with respect to transgender persons;

(b) to monitor and evaluate the impact of policies and programmes designed for achieving equality and full participation of transgender persons;

(c) to review and coordinate the activities of all the departments of Government and other Governmental and non-Governmental Organisations which are dealing with matters relating to transgender persons;

(d) to redress the grievances of transgender persons; and

(e) to perform such other functions as may be prescribed by the Central Government.

The other members of the Council include representatives of various Ministries/Departments, five representatives of the transgender community, representatives of NHRC and NCW, representatives of State Governments and UTs and experts representing NGOs.

A Member of National Council, other than ex officio member, shall hold office for a term of three years from the date of his nomination.

Click here for detailed notification.


Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment

[Notification dt. 24-08-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission India has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that a 13-year-old girl belonging to Scheduled Caste was gang-raped and killed when she had gone to relieve herself on the farmland owned by one of the accused on 15-08-2020. Reportedly the victim was tortured before strangled to death. It is mentioned in the news report that there is a toilet in the victim’s house but it’s not functional.

The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and DGP, Government of Uttar Pradesh calling for detailed reports in the matter within 06 weeks including disbursement of the statutory relief as per rules framed under provisions of the SC/ST (POA) Act to the family of the victim, action taken against the guilty and the status of the FIRs registered in the matter. The Chief Secretary is also expected to sensitize the district authorities in the State to create awareness that the toilets should not be constructed for mere fulfillment of the government records, they are to be actually made functional.

The Commission found it appropriate to forward a copy of the news item to the Secretary, Union Ministry of Jal Shakti, which is the Nodal Ministry for the ‘Swachchh Bharat Abhiyan.’ It is expected from the Ministry to issue guidelines to all the States and Union Territories to ensure that the toilets are not only constructed but also used to make the country clean and save the women from the heinous crimes committed by anti-social elements when they go out to relieve themselves. He is also expected to respond within 6 weeks.

According to the media reports, both the accused have been arrested by the police. The Senior Superintendent of Police, Kheri has reportedly stated that the FIR has been registered under relevant sections of IPC and POCSO Act. He has further added that the National Security Act will be slapped against the accused who were arrested by the police within few hours after the incident.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 17-08-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission, India has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that an Inspector of Govind Nagar police Station, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh asked a 16 years old girl to dance in lieu of registering an FIR against the nephew of her landlord who has been molesting her. The girl with her family lives in a rented accommodation in Dabauli West area of Govind Nagar.

The Commission has issued a notice to the Director-General of Police, Uttar Pradesh calling for a detailed report within 6 weeks in the matter including action taken against the delinquent police officer and the status of the FIR registered on the complaint submitted by the victim’s family.

Reportedly, the girl’s family earns a livelihood by doing some Jagran parties, etc and they had tried to lodge a complaint against the nephew of their landlord accusing him of molesting the girl besides forcibly evacuating them from the rented portion of the house, a few days ago.

According to the media report, the Circle Officer of Govind Nagar, Kanpur has denied the allegations stating that there is no substance in the charges and prima facie, it appears that the girl has made the video viral in order to create pressure on the police. He has also stated that an investigation into the matter is underway.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 17-08-2020]

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 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 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.

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that a journalist was allegedly killed by sand mafias in the Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh on the 19th June, 2020. Reportedly, the victim Shubham Tripathy was working as a correspondent with a Hindi Daily, Kampu Mail. He had been reporting about illegal sand mining in the district and had apprehended threat to his life from them. Reportedly, his opponents had also lodged a complaint against him with the District Magistrate.

The Commission has issued a notice to the Government of Uttar Pradesh through its Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police calling for a detailed report in the matter. The State Government has also been directed to get an impartial enquiry into the matter by an independent agency, preferably the State CB CID and to ensure safety of the family of the victim and the witnesses in the matter. The call details and other forensic evidences gathered during inquiry to be preserved as the Commission might call them during consideration of the case. The response is expected, within 4 weeks.

The Commission has observed that the news report has mentioned that in many cases the media persons have been targeted by the anti-social elements and in most of the cases no action against the culprits has been taken by the police authorities.

In the democratic system of Government, the media is considered as its fourth pillar which cannot be allowed to be victimised by the anti social elements in such a cruel manner. It is the duty of the state to provide adequate safety and security to the media persons who in the public interest, keep taking great risks to highlight the illegal activities prevailing in the society. The death of Shubham Tripathy in this case is a matter of concern for the Commission and also an issue involving violation of human rights.


National Human Rights Commission

Press Release dt. 26-06-2020

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]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh after taking suo motu cognizance of media reports that the bodies of Auraiya road accident victims were being carried along with the injured migrant labourers in the same vehicle by the authorities on 16.05.2020. He has been asked to submit a detailed report in the matter within four weeks.

The report is expected to be comprehensive, giving the details of the action taken against the delinquent officers and relief/ rehabilitation provided to the victim migrant labourers and their families by the state authorities. The Commission would also like to know about the health status of the injured migrant labourers and status of their medical treatment.

Issuing the notice, the Commission, has also observed that it is indeed unethical and inhuman on the part of the authorities to put the dead bodies in the same vehicle in which the injured migrant labourers were asked to travel.

The injured persons had suffered not only physical injuries but they were also under tremendous trauma of the fatal accident and in that painful condition, they were forced to sit in the same vehicle where the bodies of the deceased were also kept.

The public servants failed to deal with the situation sensibly and acted in a cruel manner violating right to dignity of the poor labourers.

Reportedly, 26 migrant labourers lost life and more than 30 sustained injuries in the fatal accident when two trucks, one coming from Punjab and the other from Rajasthan, collided on the highway in Auraiya district of Uttar Pradesh.

Later, as the photographs of the truck carrying the dead and the injured in the same truck went viral on social media, the authorities sensing the outrage transferred the dead bodies in the ambulance vehicles at Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh.


NHRC

[Press Release dt. 23-05-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has received a complaint from Smt. Ram Bai, a resident of Ravidas Camp, R.K. Puram, Delhi through her counsel Dr. A.P. Singh seeking urgent intervention by the Commission in the matter to prevent alleged unlawful execution of her son, Mukesh Kumar who is presently confined at Jail No. 3, Tihar in Delhi in case FIR No. 413/2012 registered at Police Station Vasant Vihar, Delhi. The complainant has stated that all the accused including her son have been falsely implicated in the case and their execution in compliance of the court orders will be a miscarriage of justice. The complainant has stated that her son is also a witness in the case of custodial death of the co-accused Ram Singh who died inside Tihar jail, on 11.03.2013. The complainant has alleged many flaws in the investigation of the case registered in connection with the custodial death of the deceased prisoner, Ram Singh and that no compensation has been given to the NOK of the deceased prisoner.

It is further mentioned by the complainant that legal remedies/cases are pending for disposal before different courts/ constitutional bodies on behalf of the death row convicts, including her son but the authorities are still planning to hang them, on 20.03.2020. The complainant has also stated that due to various kind of viral infections, pollution and other hazards, the life has become very short in Delhi NCR region hence, the death penalty and its execution is not at all justifiable.

The complainant has requested the Commission to stay the execution of the death sentence imposed on the convicts including her son which is fixed for 20.03.2020.

The Commission has carefully examined the contents of the complaint. The son of the complainant is one of the accused in a case Crime No. 413/12 registered at PS Vasant Vihar in which death sentence has been awarded by the competent court and upheld by the Apex court. The case relating to the death of one of the accused in this criminal case, Ram Singh had come before the Commission when an intimation was received from the jail authorities in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Commission directing the authorities to report all the custodial deaths to it within 24 hours of the occurrence.

The case was registered vide No. 1543/30/9/2013-JCD. The matter was taken up by the Investigation Division of the Commission and the requisite reports were obtained from the authorities concerned. A magisterial enquiry was also conducted in the matter. There were some allegations raised by the family members that the deceased prisoner had not committed suicide and he was killed in the judicial custody. The Inquiry Magistrate after examination had held that there was no foul play or negligence in this case of custodial death and the Commission, upon consideration of the reports and the recommendations made by its Investigation Division, had closed the case, on merits. Since, there was no negligence on the part of any of the authorities, no compensation was recommended by the Commission.

Upon perusal, the Commission has not found any substance sufficient for taking cognizance of the matter. The case relating to custodial death of the deceased co-prisoner Ram Singh has been disposed of by the Commission on merits, as explained above. So far as the prayer made by the complainant to stay execution of the death sentence is concerned, it is apparent that the said convict Mukesh Kumar has already approached the appropriate authorities and the authorities have exercised their jurisdiction judiciously. The matter is outside the purview of the Commission. The complaint is, therefore, dismissed in limini.


NHRC

Press Release dt. 17-03-2020

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 BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Division Bench of Govind Mathur, CJ and Vivek Varma, J. while addressing the present petition requested the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to have a complete inquiry or investigation due to the alleged violation of human rights and negligence in the prevention of such violation.

Alleged display of police brutality upon students who were protesting against the introduction of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 is the reason for the filing of the present petition.

At Aligarh Muslim University a huge number of students assembled to share solidarity with the students of other Universities who were protesting against the above-stated Act. On the evening of December 15th, peaceful processions according to the petitioner was lodged at the Library canteen of the University.

A huge contingent of the police forces moved towards the University circle and provoked the students by different means including intentional utterance of abusive words. Students were heavily injured by the brutal lathi-charge, rubber bullets and pellets.

Further, the petitioner stated that to disburse the assembly of the students, the force was used by the State. The contingent of police forcefully entered in different parts of the University including the library, hostels, classrooms, offices, etc. and brutally behaved with students. Police officials intentionally assaulted the students and also vandalized the vehicles parked on the University campus.

It has also been alleged that a large number of students were detained and tortured then on 16-12-2019, University Registrar issued notices to vacate the hostels.

Counter affidavit filed by the Inspector General, Law & Order U.P. and Senior Superintendent of Police, Aligarh stated that the students in violation of the precautions as per Section 144 CrPC gathered at the University circle and when the authorities noticed the hindrance being caused by some of the students in their routine functioning, Registrar, Aligarh Muslim University requested the District Magistrate, Aligarh to take appropriate steps.

Registrar of the University had sent a letter to the District Magistrate requesting the deployment of security forces to prevent any untoward incident. District administration received certain intelligence inputs and also information from the Proctor of the University about the assembly of the students inside the University campus and their march towards Bab-e-Syed apprehending unwarranted incidents.

Gathering taking advantage of darkness started pelting stones vigorously from various directions and that enormously destroyed University property. Having no other option, the district administration decided to enter into University campus to disburse gathering and preventing the property from being damaged.

Additional Advocate General submitted that the above-said action was taken to prevent loss to public and public property at large. He also stated that in accordance with Article 19 of the Constitution of India, the right available is only to assemble peacefully without arms. But in the above incident, the assembly was absolutely unlawful and was abating for violence.

Senior Advocate, Sri Colin Gonsalves stated that the petitioner’s demand is to have a complete investigation as there is a violation of human rights and commission of cognizable crime. He also referred to the observations made in the Supreme Court Case in Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Assn. v. Union of India, (2017) 8 SCC 417, wherein it was stated that,

“..inquiry or investigation by the National Human Rights Commission is of civil nature and that too is not an effective measure to bring the culprits of doing wrong to board.”

 

Decision

On perusal of the above-stated aspects, the High Court stated that, under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 the Commission may inquire suo motu or on a petition relating to the students for violation of human rights or abatement thereof or negligence in the prevention of such violation by a public servant.

There has been alleged violation of human rights and also alleged negligence in the prevention of such violation. The narration of the facts certainly demands a probe.

Court on perusal of the powers of the NHRC stated that the entire matter is to be inquired by the Commission.

Inquiry by the State Human Rights Commission also but in light of the fact that the National Human Rights Commission is already undertaking inquiry relating to similar allegations on a complaint filed by the students and some faculty members of Jamia Milia Islamia University, the Bench considers it fit to have an inquiry in the present matter too by NHRC.

Commission has been requested to complete the inquiry within a period of one month and to convey its findings and recommendations, if any, to this Court immediately after the conclusion of the inquiry/investigation. [Mohd. Aman Khan v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine All 1, decided on 07-01-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

Death of more than 100 children at Kota Government Hospital

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports about the death of more than 100 children at a government-run hospital in Kota district of Rajasthan in the month of December, 2019. Ten out of a hundred children died within 48 hours between December 23 and 24, 2019. Reportedly, over 50 per cent of the gadgets installed in the hospital are defunct and the hospital is lacking cleanliness and basic infrastructure including oxygen supply in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

The Commission has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Rajasthan to submit a detailed report, within four weeks in the matter including the steps being taken to address the issue and to ensure that such deaths of the children do not recur in future due to lack of infrastructure and health facilities at the hospitals.

According to the media report, the state authorities have reportedly stated that the number of deaths is low in comparison with earlier years. As per the statistics quoted by the State authorities 963 children have died in the year 2019 at J.K. Lon government hospital while this figure was above 1000 in the preceding years.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 03-01-2019]

Hot Off The PressNews

NHRC issued the following statement with respect to the police action in Jamia:

It has been brought to the notice of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India that certain individuals are attributing that the Commission has condemned police action in Jamia Millia Islamia. This statement is incorrect and the matter is still under enquiry.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 02-01-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has deputed a team led by its SSP, Ms. Manzil Saini to conduct and on the spot inquiry to know whether incidents in Jamia Millia Islamia involved violation of Human Rights. The Commission has received complaints in the matter and registered a case.

The fact-finding team will submit its report, which will be analysed and placed before the Commission for appropriate recommendations in the matter.

The complaints received in the Commission include allegations of illegal detention of students of Jamia Millia Islamia by Police and denial of legal and medical access to injured students in the Police action.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 201-12-2019]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that minor victim of sexual assault was set on fire by her tormentor resulting in her death in Agartala district of Tripura.

The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, Tripura calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks including status of the investigation and any relief granted to the NOK of the deceased.

The Commission has observed that though it is not mentioned in the media reports that whether the aggrieved family or the victim had approached the police authorities with their complaint but the death of a minor girl as a result of a barbaric act done by the accused is a matter of concern for it. Reiterating its displeasure towards increasing incidents of sexual assault of women across the country, the Commission has said that it is awaiting reports from all the States and UTs including Union Ministry of Women and Child Development in the matter.

According to the media reportsd, carried today on the 9-10-2019 that on 28-10-2019, the victim was kidnapped by the accused from her residence and was subjected to sexual abuse. Later, the accused raised a demand of Rs 5 Lakhs in lieu of solemnizing marriage with the victim. Some amount of money was reportedly paid by the family and there was a dispute between the family of the victim and the accused for the remaining money. As mentioned in the news reports, the accused and his mother have been arrested by the police after the incident.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 09-12-2019]