Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission, India has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that the police personnel of Mehrauli Police Station subjected a woman to extreme torture by stripping her and brutally beating with a belt in Lalitpur District of Uttar Pradesh. Reportedly, she was working as a domestic help at the residence of a police officer on the allegations of a theft in the house.

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 four weeks including action against the responsible police officer and any relief granted the victim by the authorities.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the media reports if true raise a serious issue of violation of human rights to the victim. The Police Officer and his family have not only misused their position but also subjected the victim to physical torture and cruelty.

According to the media report, the wife of the police officer locked the victim at her home in the evening of 2nd May, 2022. Her husband, a police official, came along with a lady Inspector and started interrogating her about a theft in the house. Besides beating her brutally, they also subjected her to water cannon and electric shocks to force her accept the allegations.

Later, sensing that the matter may snowball into a controversy, she was called to the Mehrauli police station where the police personnel tried to project the matter as a dispute with her husband and also initiated action against him for disturbing the peace.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 7-5-2022]

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that a 25-year-old man was brutally killed in broad public view at Saroornagar in Hyderabad by his wife’s brother and another person in a case of suspected honour killing on 4th May, 2022. Reportedly, the girl’s family was opposed to her inter-faith relationship and marriage. Both the accused have been arrested and the case, reportedly, would be tried in a Fast Track Court.

The Commission has observed on the basis of the media reports that such heinous crime in broad public view without any fear of law indicates lawlessness and amounts to a gross violation of human rights. Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, Telangana calling for a detailed report on the matter within four weeks.

The Chief Secretary has been asked to submit a report whether the State government has any policy to prevent such incidents of honour killing in cases of inter caste/inter religion marriage.

The DGP has been asked to inform the present status of the investigation in the case, steps taken to safeguard the wife of the victim and his family members along with any relief granted by the State Government to them. The Commission would also like to know whether there were any lapses on the part of the police authorities in this case if so, what action has been taken against the guilty.

According to the media report, carried on 6th May, 2022, it is mentioned that the incident occurred the victim boy, belonging to Scheduled Caste was riding his motorbike accompanied by his Muslim wife when the attackers stopped them on the road and attacked the man with an iron rod before stabbing him with a knife, killing him on the spot.

The police has reportedly stated that the brother of the girl was opposed to her interfaith marriage and warned against it. The couple, as mentioned in the news report, were classmates in the school and college and were in love for more than 5 years even as the family of the girl was against the relationship. They had reportedly got married in the month of January this year, against the wishes of the family of the girl. The wife of the victim has reportedly told the media that she knew her husband for the last 11 years and claimed that five people had attacked him.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 6-5-2022]

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that a 13 years old girl was raped by the in-charge of police station in the Lalitpur district of Uttar Pradesh when she went to register an FIR about her gang rape.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the media report, if true, amount to human rights violations of the victim. Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director-General of Police, Government of Uttar Pradesh calling for a report within four weeks.

According to the media report, the officer concerned has been placed under suspension and an FIR has been registered against him. The relevant sections of the POCSO Act have been applied. Other police officers posted at the police station have also been removed from the duty and a DIG level officer will be investigating the case.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 4-5-2022]

Case Briefs

The National Human Rights Commission, India has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that four sanitation workers have died after inhaling toxic gases while cleaning a sewage tank in Budha Khera village in Hisar district of Haryana.

The Commission has issued notice to the Chief Secretary of Haryana, calling for a detailed report on the matter within six weeks. The report is expected to include the action taken against the responsible officers and relief granted to the families of the victims.

The Commission has observed that the incident indicates that despite the avoidable and unwarranted deaths in sewers; and sheer indignity of the work, hazardous cleaning of septic tank without safety equipment continues.

The Commission has been emphasizing upon use of machines for cleaning septic tanks, sewage plants etc. and to ensure proper safety equipments for the workers but such painful incidents are taking place frequently.

Due to negligence and apathy by the authorities concerned, precious human lives have again been lost. Their human rights have been grossly violated.

The Commission has noticed that in this case, the victims are in the age of 25 to 28. Deaths of such young men in these kind of tragic incidents could be averted had proper precaution been taken by the responsible authorities. Such incidents are indeed indicative of reckless attitude of the civic authorities violating human rights of the poor and innocent workers.

Issuing the notices, the Commission has observed that a large number of workers have died within a short span of time while undertaking the sewage/ septic tank cleaning work. It has been taking cognizance of such matters for quite some time now and trying its best to sensitize the authorities to take all precautions during the time of cleaning of the sewage tanks so that precious human lives are not lost.

Further, the Commission observed that in spite of specific judgments given by the Supreme Court and guidelines issued from time to time by different government agencies, the sewage cleaning workers are still being exposed to extreme danger and subjected to indignity by the public authorities.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 23-4-2022]

Case Briefs

The National Human Rights Commission, India has taken a suo-motu cognizance of a media report of the incident where a dalit man was allegedly forced to rub his nose in his own spit in front of a village Sarpanch and locals in Kendrapada district of Odisha.

The Commission has issued notice to the Odisha Chief Secretary calling for a report within six weeks including status of investigation of the case, which has been reportedly registered by the police, as well as the status of statutory relief paid to the victims.

Examining the contents of the news report, the Commission has observed that the issues raised are of a very serious nature and the right to dignity of the victims have been grossly violated.

As per the media report, the incident occurred when the Sarpanch of Tikhiri village in Bhubaneswar visited the victim’s house seeking donations for a temple. The man reportedly said that he had already donated an amount, which made the Sarpanch angry. He further allegedly abused him and his wife in front of locals. An FIR has been reportedly registered under various sections of the IPC and under relevant provisions of the Protection of the Scheduled Castes & the Scheduled Tribes Act, 1989.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 22-4-2022]

News

NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report with the photographs of a man chest-deep in a muck standing inside a drain in the Kashmere Gate area of Delhi, reportedly under the PWD Department. The Commission has observed that the incident indicates that despite unwarranted deaths in sewers and sheer indignity of the work, manual cleaning of drains continues in the National Capital.

Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi calling for a detailed report by specifically intimating the measures that the Government of Delhi has already taken or likely to be taken to prevent such gross violation of human rights of poor and underprivileged people, who are susceptible to be employed for this type of manual scavenging or sewage cleaning without any mechanical device by the public/ private organizations. The response is expected within four weeks.

The Commission has also observed that despite specific judgments given by the Apex Court and guidelines issued from time to time by different government agencies, the sewage workers are still being exposed to extreme danger and being subjected to indignity by the public authorities.

The Commission had also issued Advisory on Protection of Human Rights of the person engaged in Manual Scavenging or Hazardous Cleaning on 24th September, 2021, which was circulated to the Chief Secretaries of all States and Administrator of all UTs and the Union Ministries of Social Justice and Empowerment, Housing and Urban Affairs and to the Secretary, National Commission for Safai Karmacharis.

According to the media report, carried on 3rd April, 2022, the NHRC had taken suo motu cognizance of an incident two days back in which four persons had died in a sewer in Rohini area of Delhi. Reportedly, such incidents clearly show that the manual cleaning of sewer is still being allowed by the government agencies and the poor workers taking advantage of the desperately needy who out of sheer necessity accepts the hazardous work for the mere income.


National Human Rights Commission

Hot Off The PressNews

NHRC ensures payment of Rs. 13 lakh relief in the case of the death of a Tamil Nadu Government woman employee after slipping into a septic tank near her office; action against the guilty officials and construction of toilets in all the Agriculture Extension Centres

The intervention of the National Human Rights Commission, India resulted in the payment of monetary relief of Rs. 13 lakh to the next of kin of a Tamil Nadu Government lady Warehouse Manager, who died on 07th December, 2020 after falling into a septic tank near an under construction building to answer call of nature as there was no toilet in her office. She was working in the Kancheepuram Agriculture Development office. The relief amount includes the service benefits of the victim and Rs. 10 lakh from Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

The State government has informed the Commission that it has also taken action against the guilty officers besides ordering setting up of toilet facilities on a war footing at all the Agriculture Extension Centres (IAECS)/Sub Agriculture Extension Centres in various parts of the State. It is also considering appointment of the victim’s elder sister on compassionate ground.

The Commission has asked the Chief Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu to submit the status report on the construction of restrooms in all the Agriculture Extension Centres (IAECS)/Sub Agriculture Extension Centres within 8 weeks.

The Commission had taken cognizance of the fatal incident on the basis of a complaint.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 25-3-2022]

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission, India has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that 8 persons, including women and children were allegedly burnt to death in Bogtui village in Rampurhat area of Birbhum district, West Bengal on 22nd March, 2022, after TMC leader was killed in a bomb attack.

The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, West Bengal calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks including the status of the FIRs registered in the matter, steps taken to ensure safety of the people in the village and any relief or rehabilitation provided by the State Government.

Issuing the notices, the Commission has also observed that going by the contents of the media reports, the incident of hate violence indicates that the law and order is not appropriate in the area.

According to the media reports, the doctors at Rampurhat Government Hospital, where the bodies were taken for post-mortem, stated that the condition of the bodies made their work very difficult. It is further stated that the presence of blood suggests that the victims were first physically attacked and then the houses were put on fire.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 24-3-2022]

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission, India has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report on disappearing water bodies in Delhi due to alleged unplanned growth and negligence by the authorities.

Notices have been issued to the Chief Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi and the Vice-Chairman, Delhi Development Authority, DDAcalling for a detailed report in the matter within six weeks.

The Commission has observed that the issue raised in the media report is a matter of concern. There are laws and guidelines to safeguard such vital components of the environment. The alleged negligence by the authorities tantamount to violation of human rights, as the water bodies and wetlands are a vital part of the hydrological cycle, which supports rich biodiversity and provides a wide range of ecosystem services such as water storage, water purification, flood control, erosion control and microclimate regulation etc. It also helps mitigate urban floods.

The Commission has also noted that on 23rd April, 2019, Wetland Authority was constituted under the chairpersonship of the Chief Secretary in Delhi for conservation and management of wetlands.

According to the media report, the said waterbodies, which play a major role in maintaining the ecological balance in the region have either been encroached upon, concretised, or polluted with sewage. Delhi has reportedly 1,043 identified waterbodies belonging to different authorities and according to the reported official data, 169 of them have been either infringed on or destroyed. Giving example of a waterbody in Khichripur area, the media report says that though it has been included in the official record for years but it is yet to be reclaimed or rejuvenated.

It is also mentioned that out of these 169 encroached waterbodies, a total of 103 belonged to the Delhi Development Authority. The DDA reportedly owns 836 waterbodies, which is the highest number in the city followed by the Revenue Department, which has a total 131 under its ambit. Further, quoting the Centre for Science and Environment, the media report said that according to a 1997 survey, there were 1,000 waterbodies in Delhi, but at present less than 700 remain.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 3-3-2022]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission, India has expressed concerns over the living conditions of slum dwellers in Mumbai.

Acting on a complaint in this regard, the Commission issued notices to the Government of Maharashtra and the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs seeking their responses.

The Government of Maharashtra responded, through its Chief Secretary, that several efforts have been made and schemes formulated to provide dwelling units to the slum dwellers for Economically Weaker Sections with the State and Central assistance under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojna (Urban), PMAY (U). Shortage of funds has been cited as a constraint.

The Centre on its part responded that out of 2.24 lakh houses in Maharashtra, 2 lakh were sanctioned for Mumbai alone, out of which 58225 have been grounded.

The Commission has sought a response from the Secretary, Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to give a comprehensive report. He has been given 4 weeks’ time. The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs vide its communication dated 3rd December, 2021, submitted that the Land and Colonization are State subjects. The Centre is augmenting the efforts of the State to meet the housing needs of economically weaker sections in urban areas through Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojna-Urban (PMAY-U).


National Human Rights Commission

[Notice dt. 7-1-2022]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Sikkim High Court: Bhaskar Raj Pradhan, J., dismissed a writ petition filed by the State seeking a writ for setting aside the show cause notice and orders passed by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) relating to the suicide of an under trial prisoner (UTP) Roshan Chettri in District Jail, Namchi, as being arbitrary and illegal.

NHRC had issued a show cause notice to the Chief Secretary of the petitioner in this relation further adding that the Investigation Division of NHRC after collecting/analyzing relevant reports/records has submitted that the deceased UTP was a covid-19 positive patient and was in quarantine along with another UTP. On 04.04.2020, at 11 a.m., the deceased made an attempt to commit suicide by hanging on the door of his cell with the help of cloth of the blanket provided to him but that act was noticed by his cell mate who caught hold his body and called out for help. Subsequently, jail authorities arrived and brought him down by cutting the blanket cloth. He was immediately shifted to hospital wherein he died during the treatment. The inquest and the Post Mortem Examination (PME) revealed no injury on the body of the deceased other than ligature marks, the cause of death was asphyxia due to hanging. The notice required the petitioner to show cause as to why monetary compensation of Rs.3,75,000/- should not be recommended under section 18(a)(i) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, to be paid to the next of kin of the deceased Roshan Chettri.

The petitioner responded to the show cause notice stating that no case of negligence on the part of jail administration was found during the judicial enquiry by the Judicial Magistrate, South Sikkim at Namchi. In the meanwhile, Dilip Chettri, father of the deceased filed a writ petition praying for a direction upon the state respondents to pay compensation to the tune of Rs.20,00,000/- as well as for an independent investigation of the incident of the alleged suicide by a retired judge or a government officer or any other person as deemed fit. The writ petition was taken up by the Single Bench of this court and was dismissed in limine.

The petitioner claimed to be aggrieved on counts :

  • that inspite of the dismissal of W.P.(C) No. 02 of 2021 (supra) by this court, the NHRC has passed the impugned orders which was barred by the principle of res judicata;
  • that the show cause notice and the impugned orders did not disclose the commission of violation of human rights by the police authorities or the negligence of the police authorities in prevention of violation of human rights;
  • that the NHRC could not have entertained the complaint under Regulation 9(xi) and 9(xii) of the National Human Rights Commission (Procedure) Regulations, 1994; and
  • that the NHRC did not consider the final inquiry report dated 20-5-2021 of the learned Judicial Magistrate and the final report of the Namchi Police Station.
  • It is further argued that merely because suicide took place during the day, it does not in any manner corroborate or substantiate that there was any negligence on the part of the police authorities.

The Court relied on the decision of the Supreme Court in Dario v. State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1961 SC 1457 and reiterated that if the petition is dismissed in limine without passing a speaking order then such dismissal cannot be treated as creating a bar of res judicata and although, prima facie, dismissal in limine even without passing a speaking order in that behalf may strongly suggest that the court took the view that there was no substance in the petition at all, but in the absence of the speaking order it would not be easy to decide what factors weighed in the mind of the court and that makes it difficult and unsafe to hold that such a summary dismissal is a dismissal on merits and as such constitutes a bar of res judicata.

The Court further held that the State is vicariously liable to compensate the next of kin of the deceased UTP. It is not the case of the petitioner that the jail was not under its control when the incident happened in the manner described and admittedly inside the jail.

The petition was finally dismissed holding it as misconceived.[State of Sikkim v. NHRC, 2021 SCC OnLine Sikk 183, decided on 03-12-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Mr Hissey Gyaltsen, Assistant Government Advocate for the petitioner.

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission,  India has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that the eyes of six patients had to be removed due to botched up cataract surgeries at Shrikrishna Medical College & Hospital, SKMCH in Muzaffarpur, Bihar on 22nd November, 2021. The doctors may require removing the eyes of about a dozen more patients due to infections after the surgery. Reportedly, as per medical protocol, a doctor could conduct upto 12 surgeries, but in this case, the doctor conducted surgery on 65 patients.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the media report, if true, raise a serious issue of human rights violation. Conducting eye surgeries in such a reckless manner, violating norms of the medical protocols at a government hospital, is a serious matter of concern.

Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar calling for a detailed report in the matter. The report is expected to inform about the exact number of patients, who have lost their eyes, status of the medical treatment being provided to them and the relief provided by the State Government, including action against the responsible officers/doctors. The response is expected within 4 weeks.

According to the media report, carried on 1st December, 2021, in most of the cases, the cornea of the patients is badly damaged and there are chances that the infection could reach their brains. The condition of six patients is very serious. The hospital authorities tried to hush up the matter and did not inform about it to the district administration or the State health department till an enquiry was conducted. The authorities have, reportedly, stopped activities in the Muzaffarpur Eye Hospital and a team of the doctors, headed by ACMO is conducting investigation in the matter.


National Human Rights commission

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

The National Human Rights Commission, India has issued a notice to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, DMRC, after taking cognizance of a complaint requesting removal of misleading signages on its 347 new toilets for Transgender Persons.

Allegedly, the name ‘Ubhayalingi’ with a symbolic photo of ‘half-male and half-female’ outside the new 347 Transgender friendly toilets, constructed by the DMRC at metro stations, is not the acceptable term for Transgender persons.

The signage fails to provide a safe space and prevent gender discrimination that the DMRC intended.

The Commission has called for an action taken report from the Director (Works) and the Director (Projects), DRMC, on the grievances raised by the complainant within six weeks.

The complainant has requested the Commission for directions to the DMRC to remove all bilingual signage that mention ‘Ubhayalingi’ immediately and make the following changes:

1. The transliteration of the term ‘Transgender Person’ in Hindi should be used in all signages;

2. The symbol for transgender persons should be ‘T’ instead of the ‘half male-half female symbol;

3. A fresh press release be issued after the change wherein the signage and the statement use ‘Transgender Persons’ instead of Transgender;

4. hat the above changes be followed in all future actions of the DMRC including separate public toilet facilities for Transgender Persons at its upcoming stations in Phase-IV;

5. DMRC should notify a complaint officer for notifying violations of provisions of the Transgender Persons Act.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 17-09-2021]

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission, India has received several complaints regarding the ongoing farmer’s protest. There are allegations of adverse impact on the industrial units, seriously effecting more than 9000 micro, medium, and large companies.

Allegedly, transportation is also adversely impacted, causing the commuters, patients, physically challenged people and senior citizens to suffer due to the heavy congestion on roads.

There are also reports that people have to travel long distances to reach their destinations due to the ongoing farmers’ agitation and barricades have been put on the borders. Accordingly, the Commission issued notices to the Chief Secretary, Government of U.P., Chief Secretary, Government of Haryana, Chief Secretary, Government of Rajasthan, Chief Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi, Director Generals of Police, U.P., Haryana, Rajasthan and Commissioner of Police, Delhi calling upon them to submit their respective Action Taken Reports.

There is an allegation that there is breach of the corona protocols by the agitating farmers at the protest site. There is further allegation that the inhabitants are not being allowed to move out of their houses due to the blockade of the passage.

Since the agitation involves the issue of human rights whereas the right to agitate in a peaceful manner is also to be respected. The Commission needs to take care of various human rights issues.

Hence, the Commission besides issuing notice to various States has taken the following actions:

1. The Institute of Economic Growth (IEG) is requested to examine the adverse impact of the farmers’ agitation on industrial and commercial activities/production and disruption of transport services on commercial and normal consumers including inconvenience and additional expenditure, etc. and to submit a comprehensive report in the matter by 10th October, 2021;

2. The National Disaster Management Authority, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health, Government of India, have been asked to submit reports with respect to the adverse impact of farmers agitation on various aspects and observance of COVID Protocols at the protests sites;

3. In the case of alleged gang rape of human rights activist at the protest site, no report was received from the DM, Jhajjar regarding the payment of compensation to the NOK of the deceased. A fresh reminder was issued to the DM, Jhajjar, to file the report by 10th October, 2021;

4. Delhi School of Social Work, University of Delhi is requested to depute teams to conduct a survey and submit the report assessing the disruption of livelihood, lives of people, impact on the aged and infirm persons due to protracted agitation by farmers;


National Human Rights Commission

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: The Full Bench of Rajesh Bindal, ACJ and I.P. Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Subrata Talukdar, JJ., continued hearing the matter of infamous series of petitions filed with the allegation that the people who supported the political parties other than the ruling party in the recently concluded Assembly Elections in the State (year 2021), had been made to suffer at the hands of the supporters/workers of the party, which came in power.

Let’s have a look at the petitions in brief. WPA (P) 142 of 2021 filed on 04-05-2021 dealt with the prayer to combat the post-poll violence and take corrective as well preventive action and sought to open Control Room so as to enable the victims to lodge their complaints online or over telephone. WPA (P) 143 of 2021 filed on 06-05-2021 dealt with issuance of direction to the respondents to take immediate steps to stop ongoing post-poll violence and to call for an independent and impartial investigation of the offences by constitution of a special investigation team. WPA (P) 144 of 2021 filed on 07-05-2021 was filed by an advocate practicing in this Court in public interest raising the issue of post-poll violence. The prayer was made for a direction to the police to immediately take action and stop the atrocities. WPA (P) 145 of 2021 filed on 10-05-2021 raised the issues regarding violence in which number of workers of the opposition parties including the main opposition party suffered physically as well as damage to their properties. WPA (P) 146 of 2021 filed on 10-05-2021 prayed to the Central as well as the State government to deploy more forces to maintain law and order, appoint an independent committee to conduct free and fair investigation, to provide protection to the petitioner from retributive action of rioting mob, direction to the police to register FIRs in all cases. WPA (P) 147 of 2021 filed on 10-05-2021 prayer was made to secure life and property of the affected persons, proper judicial investigation of the incidents of political violence. WPA (P) 148 of 2021 filed on 12-05-2021 the prayer was for calling upon the official respondents to show cause as to why they failed to register the complaints. WPA(P) 149 of 2021 filed on 12-05-2021 was being filed by the widow of a person, who was murdered on May 03, 2021 in post-poll violence. The prayer was made for independent investigation of the crime after registration of the FIRs. WPA (P) 167 of 2021 filed on 03-06-2021 prayer was made for appropriate protection and deployment of security forces in the area and constitution of a special investigation team for independent investigation of crime.

Arguments of the petitioners:

  1. The residents in this State were being punished for exercising their right of vote in free and fair manner and material which had come on record clearly suggested that there was post-poll violence, which was well planned.
  2. The police had failed to record complaints and wherever these were recorded, after intervention of this Court, the complainants were threatened to withdraw the same.
  3. It is established from the NHRC report that there was complicity of the police and the persons in power, in the violence which erupted after polling and also declaration of the result in the recently concluded Assembly Elections.
  4. Mahesh Jethmalani, learned Senior Counsel, submitted that there were 60% gap between the number of death as reported by the Committee and as submitted by the State. The Committee reported 52 murders even though it had not visited the entire State whereas the Director General of Police reported only 29. As per the State, there was no rape incident, whereas the Committee reported that there were 11 rape cases. In fact, two of the gang rape victims had moved Hon’ble the Supreme Court.
  5. Further pointing out the facts from the report of the Committee and the response of the State, it was submitted that out of 3,384 complaints forwarded by the Committee to the State, there was no response in about 1,000 such complaints. In 135 cases, the State claimed that the cases were found to be not true. However, the same was done without registration of any FIR though cognizable offences were reported.
  6. A long list of crime against women had been furnished by the committee, which was directed to be kept in a sealed cover, otherwise the identity of the victims would have been disclosed. The cases of manipulating the Post-Mortem Reports or Medico Legal Reports by the State machinery also came up.
  7. J. Sai Deepak, Counsel for petitioners submitted that the main issue involved in the bunch of petitions was as to whether an independent probe was required in the cases involving post poll violence in the state. He argued that from the report of the committee, which was supported by documents, it was established that the state had failed to discharge its constitutional obligation in maintaining law and order in the State.

Arguments of the respondents:

  1. Kapil Sibal, Senior Counsel appearing for different Superintendents of Police submitted that this Court had set up the Committee, there was no direction for any interim report to be filed but still it was filed and the petitioners in their arguments have referred to the report as given by the NHRC and this case provisions of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 would be applicable. The 1993 Act provides for complete procedure for enquiry and investigation that was required to be followed. In the absence thereof, the report cannot be accepted as such.
  2. Referring to the biasness of the members of the Committee, he submitted that three of the members thereof including the Chairperson of the Committee have close links with BJP. Hence, report falls on that ground as well, as bias is writ large on the fact of it.
  3. S.N. Mukherjee, Senior Counsel appearing for the Director General of Police submitted that data given in the report was self-contradictory. Date of incident was not mentioned in about 43% of the cases. 892 cases pertained to the period from May 02-05, 2021. 35 cases were prior to May 02, 2021.
  4. A.M. Singhvi, Senior Counsel also appearing for Director General of Police, submitted that the report cannot be treated as conclusive and on that basis, no action can be taken. He further referred to the discrepancies in the report to show that the translation made by the Committee of various complaints was wrong.
  5. Kishore Dutta, Advocate General appearing for the State, submitted that even the State was quite serious about the incidents which had taken place after polling in the State. He referred to the details of 268 FIRs registered by the State suo-moto.
  6. Dastoor, Additional Solicitor General submitted that there was post-poll violence is a fact not denied by the State. Response of the police even after the cases were filed was not adequate and timely. Some action was taken when the Court intervened. In fact drastic steps are required to be taken to establish rule of law and save democracy. He further submitted that in case assistance of any of the independent agency for investigation or any para-military force is required to maintain law and order in the State, the Government will abide by the order of the Court.

The Court heard the parties, perused all the relevant documents presented. During the discussion of the matter the Court clarified major issues in the arguments the first being the, “duration of the post poll violence”, “election commission’s duty on law and order” and the “bias” of the three-member committee as pointed out by the counsel for the respondents.

The Court further relied on several Supreme Court judgments which they believed guided them in the present factual matrix of the case. Some of which are National Human Rights Commission v. State of Arunachal Pradesh, (1996) 1 SCC 742, Rubabbuddin Sheikh v. State of Gujarat, (2010) 2 SCC 200 and  State of West Bengal v. Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights, West Bengal, (2010) 3 SCC 571. The major development in this case came as the Director General of Police had directed the CID to take over the investigation. A writ petition was filed in this Court alleging therein that police administration was under the influence of the ruling party, which was trying to hide the incident. It was prayed that he investigation of the case be handed over to CBI and the Court had directed the same to be transferred to CBI.

The Court finally opined that the heinous crime such as murder and rape deserve to be investigated by an independent agency which in circumstances can only be Central Bureau of Investigation. It is for the reason that in number of cases, the State had failed to register the FIRs and opined the same to be not the cases of murder. In some cases, even after registration of FIR, the observation by the State is that these may result in ‘no case’. This shows pre-determined mind to take investigation into a particular direction. Under such circumstances investigation by independent agency will inspire confidence to all concerned.

To install faith of the people in rule of law and considering the extraordinary circumstances with which the State and the Court proposed to constitute a Special Investigation Team headed by Suman Bala Sahoo and Soumen Mitra and Ranveer Kumar, all IPS officers of West Bengal cadre, as the members and the their working shall be overviewed by a retired Hon’ble Judge of Hon’ble the Supreme Court, who shall be requested to take up the assignment after taking his/her consent.

The Court finally issued a set of directions:

  • All the cases where, as per the report of the Committee, the allegations are about murder of a person and crime against women regarding rape/attempt to rape, shall be referred to CBI for investigation.
  • As the core issue regarding the post-poll violence and the action required to be taken thereon has been resolved with the directions for proper investigation of cases by the CBI and the SIT as referred to above, the matters now shall be placed before the Division Bench for dealing with other issues in the report and further proceedings.
  • The sealed cover (Annexure – I) submitted by the Committee along with its report, second autopsy report of Abhijit Sarkar, DNA analysis report as submitted by the Director Command Hospital, Kolkata and any other sealed cover pertaining to the case, lying with the Registrar General of this Court shall be handed over to the authorised officer of the CBI against proper receipt.
  • Immediate action shall be taken by the State to pay compensation to the victims of crime as per the policy of the State, after due verification. It shall be direct bank transfer in their accounts
  • CBI and the SIT to submit its status report in Court within six weeks.

The other judges of the Bench while concurring with the judgment penned by the Acting CJ. penned their separate briefings and observations in favour of the conclusions.[Anindya Sundar Das v. Union of India, WPA(P) 143 of 2021, pronounced on 19-08-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Tribunals/Regulatory Bodies/Commissions Monthly Roundup

Here’s a run-through of all the significant decisions covered in the month of July, 2021 under the Section of Tribunals/Commission/Regulatory Bodies.


Appellate Tribunal for Electricity

 

Solar Project

Whether there was bona fide delay in commissioning the solar power project?

“…allowed an appeal which was filed against the Order of Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (Commission) whereby, the Commission has held that the Applicant/Appellant was not entitled to extension of time for commissioning of solar power project in terms of the Power Purchase Agreement and Supplementary power Purchase Agreement.”

Read more: https://bit.ly/3jbKtvP


Armed Forces Tribunal

War Injury Pension

Tribunal grants war injury pension to WW-2 soldier who suffered splinter wound injury in Italy

“…war injury pension to World War-2 veteran who suffered splinter wound injury in his right leg”

Read more: https://bit.ly/37cxXXi


Customs Excise & Service Tax Appellate Tribunal

Input Services

Whether distribution of credits on input services attributable to final product on a pro-rata basis proportionate to turnover of each unit between manufacturing plants? Tribunal answers

“…issue involved was that the appeals was whether Parle Biscuits was justified in distributing credits on input services attributable to the final product on a pro-rata basis proportionate to the turnover of each unit between the manufacturing plants of Parle Biscuits and its contract manufacturing units, including Krishna Foods, under Rule 7(d) of the CENVAT Rules.”

Read more: https://bit.ly/2V5CYhG

Convenience Fee

“Convenience fee” charged by PVR for online booking of movie tickets under OIDAR category under S. 65(105) (zh) of Finance Act taxable or not? Tribunal explains

“Issue involved was related to to taxability of “convenience fee” charged by PVR Limited on its customers for online booking of movie tickets under the category of “online information and database access retrieval system” defined under section 65 (75) of the Finance Act and taxable under section 65 (105)(zh) of the Finance Act.” 

Read more: https://bit.ly/3rKRvvg

Principles of Natural Justice

Revenue has miserably failed to discharge its onus; Tribunal finds impugned order opposed to principles of natural justice

https://bit.ly/37a5uB8

CENVAT Credit

Admissibility of the Cenvat Credit in respect of outward GTA; Tribunal allows appeal

https://bit.ly/3xcJKzf


Central Information Commission

Right to Information Act

Can S. 8(1)(d), RTI Act be invoked to deny copy of thesis in view of commercial viability and to protect interests of scholar and his guide?

“…thesis publication of the research scholars cannot be reasonably even brought under any of the suo motu components of disclosure envisaged under Section 4 of the RTI Act, thereby reinforcing the proposition that the protection of Section 8 and 9 exemptions is very much available to the CPIO in the instant case.”

Read more: https://bit.ly/3fbpI23


Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission

 

Deficiency of Service

Will Camera Manufacturer — Nikon be liable for deficiency of service caused to a consumer who lost all his photographs due to memory card getting corrupted?

“…Nikon was neither the manufacturer, dealer, importer, wholesaler of the Memory Card which got corrupted leading to the loss of the photos.”

Read more: https://bit.ly/3fbqg87

Builder-Buyer Dispute

Builder handing over possession of plot with incomplete development beyond agreed time. Is buyer entitled to refund of deposit with interest? Commission decides

“Possession of the plot land booked by the complainant was not handed over within the time agreed to despite the complainant has made the payment to the extent sought from time to time.”

Read more: https://bit.ly/2WJUV6d


National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission

Medical Negligence

  • Can Wheelchair injuries be covered under the ambit of medical negligence?

“Wheelchairs are usually thought of a medical device that is meant to help those who are injured or have physical challenges; they can also be a source of injury when not properly used. Most wheelchair injuries that happen in a medical setting due to the negligence of medical staff and such could be easily prevented by a hospital or nursing home.”

Read more: https://bit.ly/3fimrOy

  • In case a medical practitioner chooses to follow one procedure instead of another, which turned out to be a failure, Can the said act be negligent?

“…The medical professional is often called upon to adopt a procedure that involves a higher element of risk, but which he honestly believes as providing greater chances of success for the patient rather than a procedure involving lesser risk but higher chances of failure.”

Read more: https://bit.ly/3idk4hG


National Company Law Appellate Tribunal

 

Insolvency Proceedings

An Arroyo for OYO | While allowing it to work independently, closed insolvency proceedings; Disallowed external parties to impinge

“We are of the considered view that before Constitution of Committee of Creditors (CoC) mere filing of a ‘Claim’ does not constitute a default per se. It is only on the basis of the ‘Claims’ that the CoC is constituted. In a catena of Judgments, the Supreme Court has reiterated that the prime objective of the Court is not recovery, but revival”.

Read more: https://bit.ly/3rO12BU


National Company Law Tribunal

Personal Guarantor

Personal Guarantor not liable to be prosecuted under S. 95 IBC where corporate debtor concerned is not under corporate insolvency resolution process

https://bit.ly/2Vmxnn0


National Green Tribunal

No Odour control system required to prevent odour from Sewage Treatment Plant. Why? NGT imposes costs on Delhi Jal Board: Why DJB is shirking its responsibility?

Mere spraying of chemical solution and other superficial steps is not effective in installing an effective odour control unit.”

Read more: https://bit.ly/3rMxOTD


National Human Rights Commission

Fr. Stan Swamy | Medical Treatment

  • Ensure every possible medical treatment to imprisoned FR. Stan Swamy as part of life saving measure and protection of his basic human rights: NHRC

https://bit.ly/3yk7ov5

Manual Scavenging

  • Manual scavenging and hazardous cleaning still remain a stinking truth of our nation: NHRC

https://bit.ly/3yi3seb

Post-Poll Violence in West Bengal

  • NHRC refutes allegations in a section of media regarding leakage of report relating to post poll violence in West Bengal

https://bit.ly/3BZMT9h


Securities Exchange Board of India

Fraudulent Scheme

 Manipulation in prices, fraudulent scheme results in debarment-Global Infratech, Directors and 12 other entities ousted from the market

https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2021/07/23/manipulation-in-prices/

Insider Trading

Financial Racket: Kundra, Shetty into murky waters again | Imposes fine for insider trading on Viaan Industries

https://bit.ly/2V0zFZq


 Securities Appellate Tribunal

 

Collective Investment Scheme

Unregistered Collective Investment Scheme violative of S. 12(1)(b) of SEBI Act and Regulations, order to pay 10% p.a. interest on refundable amount not vitiated

https://bit.ly/3j728EJ


Tribunals/Regulatory Bodies/Commissions Monthly Roundup | June 2021

Case Briefs

Justice Shri A.K. Mishra, Chairperson of, National Human Rights Commission, India today said that leaving widows to fend for themselves has to be discouraged by making it punishable under law to stop this practice. Expressing serious concerns over the living conditions of the widows in Mathura-Vrindavan and Varanasi, he said that the property rights of widows need to be restored to redress their plight and make a way for their dignified living.

Justice Mishra was chairing a meeting on the human rights issues of widows residing in shelter homes in Mathura-Vrindavan and Varanasi. He said that Government functionaries have to be made accountable for the non-implementation of the welfare schemes, if basic amenities are not provided to the destitute widows resulting in violation of their human rights including the right to food, shelter, dignity and property. He said that the ground reality of various shelter homes for the widows need to be assessed at the earliest.

Justice Mishra said that formulating schemes for the welfare of destitute widows is not just sufficient enough unless their proper implementation is ensured. He said that the focus should be on their skill development to make them self-reliant for their livelihood.

Some of the other important suggestions that emerged during the discussions were as follows:-

– Conduct a study to assess the number of widows living in Mathura-Vrindavan and Varanasi;

– Increase their monthly pension to ensure that they may have adequate resources to meet their basic requirements;

– Expand the scope of various welfare schemes, including Aayushman Bharat to extend the benefits to the destitute widows.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 20-07-2021]

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission constituted a Committee to enquire into the post-poll violence in West Bengal, as per the directions of the Calcutta High Court. The Committee submitted its report to the Court on 13th July, 2021.

On the further directions of the Court, the Committee provided a copy of the said report to its Advocate in Calcutta, who shared with the Advocates of all the parties concerned in the related multiple writ petitions.

The matter being sub-judice, the Committee of the NHRC did not share its report to any entity other than those specified by the Court.

Since the report is already available with all the concerned parties as per the directives of the Court, there is no question of leakage at the level of the NHRC.

The attribution regarding the alleged leakage of the said Report to the NHRC is absolutely baseless and factually incorrect.


National Huma Rights Commission

[Press Statement dt. 15-07-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: Full Bench of Rajesh Bindal, ACJ and I.P. Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen, Subrata Talukdar, JJ., decided that the arguments in the case begin from 22-07-2021 after the NHRC submitted its final report vide order dated 18-06-2021. The committee submitted five sets of reports in separate sealed covers along with annexures.

On 02-07-2021, the Court had perused the interim report submitted by the NHRC, and it was derived that stand taken by the petitioners was established. Vide order dated 02-07-2021, Court had directed that second autopsy of deceased Abhijit Sarkar, whose dead body was lying in hospital be undertaken by a team of doctors in the Command Hospital, Kolkata.

Mr Y.J. Dastoor, Additional Solicitor General of India apprised the Court that an autopsy of the deceased has been conducted and report was being prepared. It was further submitted that the brother of the deceased expressed his inability to identify the body on account of its bad condition. Sample for DNA analysis of the deceased has been taken to confirm the identity of the body.

The Court ordered that the samples for DNA analysis of Biswajit Sarkar (brother of the deceased) be taken at the Command Hospital on 15-07-2021 at 11 A.M and he should carry his Aadhar Card at the time of giving his sample. Director, CFSL, Kolkata was directed to conduct DNA analysis of both the samples at the earliest on a priority basis and submit a report to the Court in a sealed cover within one week.

The Court directed that the body of the deceased be shifted back to the Hospital Mortuary and shall be retained in a safe condition until further order.[Anindya Sundar Das v. Union of India, WPA(P) 142 of 2021, dated: 13-07-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.