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NHRC, India issued a notice on 24-02-2021 to the Union Ministry of Defence, through its Secretary, to show cause why Rs 5 Lakh should not be recommended to be paid as a relief to the next of the kin of an innocent citizen Thingtu Ngemu, who died in the uninformed and indiscriminate firing by the Army unit of 21 Para Special Forces, PSF, during an operation against Naxalites in Nantok circle, Dist. Changlang, Arunachal Pradesh in the interning period of 14-15 June, 2017.

The Commission has communicated that the case needs to be treated as special because the Judicial Enquiry Magistrate has held that the PSF personnel are responsible for the death of an innocent citizen. The Commission has also emphasized that if the Defence Ministry pays the relief amount to the victim’s family on the basis of its show cause notice in such cases, it will send positive signals amongst the locals and the credibility of the Armed Forces shall also improve. The response is expected within four weeks.

The Commission had registered the case on 29th June, 2017, on the basis of intimation from the Supdt. of Police, Changland, Arunachal Pradesh regarding the death of Thingtu Ngemu during an action by the security forces against naxalites in Nantok circle District Changlang.

Subsequently, the Commission through its Investigation Division found that the Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Distt. Changlang, had conducted the enquiry in the matter. It is recorded, in his report that the PSF personnel neither cooperated nor submitted any statements regarding the operation despite official letters & request of the Enquiry Magistrate.

After considering the relevant evidences, the Judicial enquiry officer found that the Army Unit of 21 Para Special Forces (PSF) of Jorhat had laid ambush within the reachable range of civilian/villagers, without any knowledge of local civil police or villagers, which was undesirable and dangerous for the inhabitants. Further, the PSF personnel detained a local innocent villager Tuwang Ngemu till late night without any reason, while he was returning from his own garden. He should have been allowed to go home after ascertaining his identity.

As a result, the other villagers and family members came towards the forest in search of Tuwang Ngemu. The PSF should have used night vision glasses/equipment to see through the dark night hours and should have identified innocent empty-handed villagers. They should have also heard the shouts of the villagers, who were searching their man, who was already detained by the PSF. Instead they resorted to blind firing without any provocation, which led to the killing of an innocent villager under the pretext of “mistaken identity”.

The enquiry Magistrate has also reported that the PSF continued firing indiscriminately from one side till 3 am of the next morning of 15/6/2017 without any retaliation or any cross-firing from anywhere. Such a blunder and irresponsible action is unjustified.

Holding the PSF personnel responsible for the death of Thingtu Ngemu, the enquiry magistrate noted that the victim was an innocent and had no connection with any outfit. The deceased is survived by his old ailing parents, wife & two small children. He was the primary bread earner & now the family has no source of livelihood.

Based on the analysis and inputs of the facts by its Investigation Division, the Commission, under Section 19 of PHR Act, has issued the show cause notice why the victim’s family should not be paid the monetary relief.


NHRC

[Press Release dt. 26-02-2021]

Hot Off The PressNews

Third-degree torture

The Commission had registered a case on 05-09-2019, on the basis of a complaint dated 28-08-2019 by the victim, alleging that police officials of Adarsh Nagar Police Station, Delhi had picked up his nephew and how he was also detained when he went to enquire about him; given third-degree torture along with his nephew. Allegedly, his nephew was also falsely implicated in a criminal case of the Arms Act.

Subsequent to the notices of the Commission, the DCP Crime Headquarters, Delhi Police had submitted a report that an FIR no 289/2019 dated 01.09.2019 was registered on the complainant’s complaint. The Commission, on the basis of this report, found that a criminal action had been initiated against the three officials, and a charge-sheet had been submitted against them before the court of law.

Commission’s Action

Earlier, the Commission did not accept the plea taken by the Delhi police in reply to its show-cause notice that since the matter is sub judice, hence, departmental action cannot be taken against the concerned police personnel. Terming this plea as fallacious, the Commission observed that it is unsatisfactory and does not inspire confidence.

Commission was convinced that from the material on record, prima-facie it is established that the complainant and his nephew were given third degree torture. They were assaulted by the police personnel, as named in the FIR, and are now facing trial before the court.

Hence, Commission recommended payment of Rs 1 lakh to the two victims of police torture, as per the Section 18 (a) (i) of Protection of Human Rights Act.

In a case of custodial torture by police in Delhi, has recommended that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs pay Rs. 1 lakh each to the two victims. It has also called for the report of departmental action taken against the six erring police official, who are facing trial before the court of Additional Sessions Judge, Rohini in case FIR No. 289/2019. They include one Inspector-SHO, ASI, HC, HV, and two Constables.

Therefore, the Commission held that since the police officials failed to act as responsible public servants, therefore, departmental proceedings against them should also be initiated, and they should be punished accordingly.

The State is vicariously liable for the action of public servant/police officials and hence the victims are entitled for compensation.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 23-02-2021]

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission, India has taken suo-motu cognizance of a media report that after 5 years in jail in Agra district of Uttar Pradesh for the crime they didn’t commit, a couple can’t find their two kids, who had been reportedly sent to some orphanage in their absence.

Considering it as a serious issue of human rights violation, the Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and DGP, Uttar Pradesh calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks.

The reports should include the enquiry/action taken, if any, against the police officers and the public servants who were responsible to ensure social security to the innocent children of the victim couple.

Issuing the notices, the Commission has observed that the gross negligence committed by a public servant has devastated the entire family. The State authorities including the police and the social welfare authorities of the district Agra have acted in a reckless manner, showing no respect towards the basic human rights.

According to the media reports, carried on the 23-01-2021, the couple was arrested by the police in the year 2015, when a boy aged five years was found murdered and they were named in the case. The Additional District and Sessions Court, while releasing the couple had mentioned in the order that it is unfortunate that innocent people have spent five years behind the bars and the main accused is still free. The Court has reportedly directed the Senior Superintendent of Police to take action against the investigating officer for his negligence. The Court has also recommended re-investigation of the case on the basis of the available evidences, to arrest the actual perpetrator.

It is specifically mentioned in the news report that the then Sub-Inspector, who was working with the investigating officer, had admitted in the Court that he did not even try to find out as to against whom the FIR was registered.

As mentioned in the news report, the victim Narendra Singh, who was earlier working as a teacher, has been asking as to what was the fault of their children, son aged 5 years and daughter aged 3 years. The wife of Narendra Singh, who was also lodged in the jail with her husband, has reportedly written a letter to the Senior Superintendent of Police, Agra to search for their missing children. The couple never met their children after their arrest, and their bail application was rejected by the District Judge in the year 2015. It is also mentioned in the news report that the victim couple could not go further to approach the High Court due to their inability to afford the expenses.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 28-01-2021]

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission, India has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that ten infants were killed in a fire that swept through the Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) at Bhandara District General Hospital in Maharashtra on 09.01.2021. The fire reportedly broke out at around 1.30 am and the hospital administration could rescue only seven out of the seventeen children kept in the ward. A relief of Rs 5 lakhs has been announced by the state government from the Chief Minister’s Fund to each bereaved family and a state wide fire audit has also been announced. A case of accident has been reportedly registered and further investigation is being conducted.

The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and DGP, Government of Maharashtra calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks.

The Director-General of Police is also expected to inform the Commission about the outcome of the investigation being conducted by the police authorities. The report must contain the fire audit reports of various hospitals in the state as well as what measures have been taken or contemplated to be taken by the state against the erring or negligent officers/officials so that they cannot go with impurity.

Issuing the notices, the Commission has observed that the victim babies were in the custody of a state-run hospital where they lost life. Hence, the state cannot escape its responsibility. This is a serious issue of violation of human rights for which the accountability of the negligent officers/officials is required to be fixed, with retrospective effect. The monetary relief alone is not sufficient to compensate. Further, it is imperative to ensure that the support systems in various hospitals in the state must provide adequate care and attention to the patients for protection of their human rights.

According to the media reports, prima facie, the fire perhaps originated from the Air Conditioner and the victim babies died due to suffocation caused by the smoke. Reportedly, a committee headed by the Health Director will probe the incident and submit its report within three days. Electrical Department officials are reportedly investigating into the exact cause of the fire as reported by quoting the Superintendent of Police of Bhandara district.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 11-01-2021]

Hot Off The PressNews

NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance on alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl in Umaria city of Madhya Pradesh and has directed issuance of notice to the Chief Secretary and the Director-General of Police, Madhya Pradesh calling for a detailed report in the matter.

As mentioned in the news report, the 13-year-old girl was abducted on 04.01.2021 from a market in Umaria city of Madhya Pradesh by a person known to her and later on she was taken to a secluded place and was subjected to rape by nine persons for two days. The girl was again abducted by one of the accused on 11.01.2021 and was taken to a desolate place where five people, including three accused in the previous incident and two unidentified truck drivers allegedly subjected her to rape for two days. The report also revealed that the victim was threatened with dire consequences due to which, she did not report the matter to the police. The mother of the girl has lodged a police complaint on January 14, following which seven of the accused have been arrested and the search of the remaining two is under way.

The gruesome incident puts a question mark towards law and order situation in the region. The perpetrators in this case, have committed the heinous crime twice, without having any fear of law violating human rights of the victim.

The Commission has opined that this is a case of violation of human rights of the victim and it is apparent that the law enforcing agencies who are expected to provide a safe environment to the citizen, have failed in exercising their lawful duty.

The Commission has called for a detailed report in the matter within 4 weeks. The report must include details regarding arrest of the remaining accused persons, counseling given to the victim as well as relief and rehabilitation provided or proposed to be provided to the victim by the State authorities.


Nationa Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 18-01-2021]

Hot Off The PressNews

In a case of a death in judicial custody, the National Human Rights Commission, India has set aside the conclusion of an Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Ahmedabad that it was natural.

On the basis of the material on record, NHRC has held that the Under Trial Prisoner died due to the negligence and torture by the jail officials of Sabarmati Central Prison, Ahmedabad on 29-05-2017 and that the Judicial Enquiry Report is shady in nature and hence, cannot be relied upon.

Further, expressing serious concern over the order of the concerned judicial officer, the Commission has directed its registry to bring the matter to the notice of the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court for consideration of taking necessary action on the presence of such Judicial Officers.

The Commission has noted in its proceedings in the matter under case no Case No.487/6/1/2017-JCD that “it is very surprising & shocking to know that though 22 ante mortem injuries over the body of the deceased were clearly reflected in post mortem report, but still enquiry magistrate i.e. ACMM, Ahmedabad, Gujarat had stated that no injury was found to be present on the deceased. The Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court has to seriously consider the presence of such Judicial Officers in public domain.”

The NHRC has also issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Gujarat, to show cause why not an interim relief of Rs 3 Lakh should not be recommended to be paid to the Next of the Kin, NoK of the deceased Under Trial Prisoner, as his human rights were violated by the delinquent Jail officials, Director General of Police, Gujarat has been asked to submit a detailed report in the matter along with criminal case registered and progress in the matter. The response is expected within four weeks.

The Commission, as per its standing guidelines, had registered the case on the basis of an intimation from Supdt. Central Prison Ahmedabad Gujarat on 31.05.2017 regarding the death of UTP Ashok @ Lalit on 29.05.2017.

On the directions of the Commission, its Investigation Division informed that the victim under trial prisoner was in the custody of Sabarmati Central Prison, Ahmedabad since 27.05.2017. He was arrested in case no. 5261/15 u/s 66(1)(b), 65(a) Prohibition Act by PS Maghaninagar. Within two days on 29/5/2017, he fell ill and was sent to the Civil Hospital, Ahmedabad for treatment where he died on the same day at 16.38 hrs.

The postmortem was done by a panel of four doctors, which revealed 22 ante-mortem injuries from head to toe on the person of the deceased. The cause of death was kept preserved. Later, after viscera & HPE, the FCOD was given as death due to shock and hemorrhage as a result of injuries sustained over the body. However, in the magisterial enquiry the ACMM, Ahmedabad, Gujarat concluded that the health screening report, as well as inquest report, revealed that no injury was present on the person of the deceased. During the magisterial enquiry, the family members did not complain of anything and based on the statements of doctors & jail officials, so he concluded that there was no direct or indirect evidence that the deceased was physically or mentally tortured or ill-treated during custody and without any evidence.

The Commission noted that the Under Trial Prisoner was normal at the time of entry into the jail and died within two days of his entry into the jail. The strong scientific & biological forensic evidence cannot be undermined as far as the cause of death is concerned. This is also a fact that he was in jail for the past two days before his death in the hospital. Hence, there is no point in accepting that his death was natural. This is a clear case of unnatural death in the judicial custody of Sabarmati Central Jail & hence State is vicariously responsible for the same. Further, the Commission held that the statements of the family members of the victim after his death bear no relevance as the victim was in jail and the family members may not have met after the injuries, when he was alive.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 08-01-2021]

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission, India has taken suo-motu cognizance of a media report that at least 23 people were killed and over 30 injured after the roof of a shelter at a crematorium collapsed on them in Murad Nagar Municipality, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh on Sunday, 3-01-2021.

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. The report must contain review of all the crematoriums, burial grounds and other such buildings, which are used by the general public for community activities in the State and maintained by the local administrative authorities. The authorities concerned must ensure proper maintenance of such places to avoid any untoward incidents in future posing danger to human lives.

The Commission has also noted, as reported in the media, that an FIR has been registered and some financial assistance has also been announced by the State government. It has asked the State Government, through its senior officers, about the present status of the investigation of the case as well as the health condition of the injured.

Issuing the notices the Commission has also observed that apparently, the contractor and department concerned have acted in a negligent manner leading to violation of the right to life of the victims. The incident is required to be investigated thoroughly so that the guilty could be adequately punished as per the provisions of the law.

According to the media reports, the rain shelter had been constructed recently by a private contractor engaged by the Muradnagar Municipality. The incident occurred when about 60 people were attending a cremation. Some labourers, who were working at a Rapid Metro site nearby and the local residents came forward to rescue the victims. The police personnel and members of NDRF team also reached the spot and rescued the victims. Twenty-three deaths were confirmed, while many injured were admitted in the hospitals.

As per news report, an FIR u/s 304/337/338/409 and 427 IPC was registered and three persons including the contractor and two civic officials were arrested. The State Government has, reportedly, announced financial assistance of Rs.2 lakhs each to the families of the deceased. Reportedly, some local residents alleged that poor quality material was used in the construction of the structure due to which it was collapsed.


NHRC

[Press Release dt. 05-01-2021]

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India, in order to ensure effective prosecution leading to conviction in cases of sexual assault on women, has prepared a ‘Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on Collection & Processing of scientific/forensic evidences.’ The SOP, prepared in consultation with medical experts, has been sent to the States/UTs for issuing instructions to all the officers concerned for implementation.

The SOP has been divided into seven sections of key operating procedures. These are: victim care, promptness and examination, collection of samples, collection of blood and urine samples, genital and anal evidence, handing over samples to FSL and general. It can be accessed through the link: https://nhrc.nic.in/acts-and-rules/standard-operating-procedure-sop-collection-processing-scientificforensic-evidences

The Commission has come out with this SOP after it observed that in many cases of alleged rape and sexual assault, there is a substantial delay in medical examination, collection & processing of scientific/forensic evidences of the victim of sexual assault. The exhibits are forwarded to the Forensic Science Laboratory, FSL after much delay and by that time, the samples deteriorate/autolyse and become unsuitable for examination. This delay adversely affects the investigation for effective prosecution leading to a conviction.

The NHRC has expressed the hope that this Standard Operating Procedure if implemented in letter & spirit by the concerned authorities, will definitely help improve the system of medicolegal investigation in cases of sexual assault on women in the country.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 16-12-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

Justice H.L. Dattu completed his tenure as the seventh Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India on 2-12-2020. He had joined the Commission on the 29-02-2016 after retiring as the Chief Justice of India on the 2-12-2015.

During his tenure, the Commission intervened in a number of cases of human rights violations, which brought succour to the victims of human rights violations. The Commission also brought down the number of cases, which were taking long to dispose of. Total 3,91,937 complaints of human rights violations were registered during his tenure; 4,20,913 cases, including some old and new cases, were disposed of. Rs 84,31,94,593/- were paid in 268 cases as monetary relief by the public authorities as per the recommendations of the Commission.

The Commission, in his leadership, retained its “A” Status of Accreditation with the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, GANHRI. The Asia Pacific Forum, APF in acknowledgement of the wide range of experience and expertise of the NHRC, India, has signed an AMU to share it with several NHRCs and like entities in the world. He also represented the NHRC as a member in the GANHRI Bureau and the Governance Committee of the APF.

The dialogue with the State Human Rights Commissions and other National Commissions gained strength for mutual cooperation on the matters of human rights. The State Governments responded to the NHRC’s requests by designating human rights courts at district levels.

The Commission expanded its outreach by linking its online complaints filing system with over 3 lakh Common Service Centres spread across the country. Justice Dattu also launched HRCNet portal to facilitate quick online communication between the NHRC and SHRCs to cut short the possibility of duplication of complaints and promote timely processing of complaints received online.

During his tenure, the Commission also launched its Twitter Handle in 2020, which is a short span, saw a number of followers. He also launched the NHRC’s much popular annual short film competition on human rights in 2015. He also promoted building awareness about human rights through street theater and launched the initiative as a mark of the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the NHRC in 2018. The first ever documentary on the journey of the Commission was also made during his tenure.

Justice Dattu paid a lot of attention to the media reports on the issues of human rights violations and took prompt action by taking suo-motu cognizance of such incidents. The number of open hearings and camp sittings of the Commission to hear on spot the complaints of rights violations of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe people and pending cases in various states were increased.

During Covid-19 lock down, in addition to taking suo-motu cognizance of media reports on the plight of people including the migrant labourers, the NHRC also intervened in the suo motu writ of the Supreme Court in the matter of migrant labourers. He constituted and expert group to come out with the NHRC Covid-19 Advisories. He also strengthened the mechanism of the Commission to hear the human rights violations of the Human Rights Defenders. During his tenure, the Core Group mechanism of the Commission gained further impetus along with the appointments of Special Monitors and Special Rapporteurs to act as the eyes and ears of the Commission.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 02-12-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission issues notices to the Chief Secretary and the Inspector General of Prisons, Madhya Pradesh after taking suo motu cognizance of the matter and directs calling for a detailed report in the matter including the present health status of all the SIMI prisoners and their medical treatment records, within 4 weeks.

Six members of the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) had begun a hunger strike inside the Central Jail, Bhopal a week ago and now they have been shifted to the jail hospital.

The prisoners who are found guilty of sedition, collecting arms and waging war against the government have been sentenced for life imprisonment in the years 2017 and 2018 by different courts including the NIA and CBI Special Courts. Apart from the present proceedings going on in the existing case, the Commission takes cognizance of the recent development with regard to the grievance of the prisoners and their health conditions. The prisoners have the right to Food and Dignity which is the basic human rights and the State, being their lawful custodian, cannot deny it to the inmates, in its lawful custody. The news report has revealed that all of them are demanding better food, exemption from regular frisking and freedom from the high-security block.

The Jail Superintendent, as mentioned in the news report, has stated that these prisoners are not allowed to come out of the special cell as they shout anti-national slogans and also disrespect the Constitution of India which leads to tension amongst the other inmates of the jail.

The Commission would like to mention here that amid spread of Covid-19 there had been a significant increase in the case of coronavirus amongst the inmates lodged in the jails, across the country. Hence, it is necessary that the prisoners are provided proper food so that their immunity level remains satisfactory which is also necessary as per guidelines issued by the WHO and ICMR.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 19-10-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission issued notice to the Chief Secretary, Director General of Police and the Director-General of Prisons, Madhya Pradesh after taking suo motu cognizance about the allegations made by women on five cops for gang rape in lockup.

It is mentioned in the news report that a 20-year-old woman has levelled allegations that she was kept in lock-up for 10 days in the month of May this year and was subjected to rape by 5 police personnel including the Police Station Incharge and SDPO of Mangawan area of Rewa district of Madhya Pradesh. The woman, as mentioned in the news report, was an accused in a case of murder and presently she is lodged in judicial custody. The incident occurred in the month of May and it came to the knowledge of the District Judge after a period of five months. Even the prison warden did not have the courage to report the matter to the higher authorities.

It is further added that as alleged by the victim woman, she was subjected to rape between 09-05-2020 to 21-05-2020 while the police contradict, to be arrested on 21-05-2020. The female constable had protested at that time but she was rebuked by her seniors.

The Commission considered the vulnerable position of the victim. She was in police custody when she was allegedly subjected to utmost cruelty and sexual assault by the 5 police personnel. Even a protest made by a female police official went in vain. Very serious allegations have been levelled by the victim woman. Public servants from the law enforcement agencies, who are supposed to safeguard the citizens especially the women and the people from the vulnerable classes of the society have allegedly committed the heinous crime against a woman in their custody.

The Commission directs that the matter may be investigated by a senior police officer, not below the rank of the Deputy Inspector General of Police.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 19-10-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), viewing the unprecedented situation across the country and being deeply concerned about the rights of the vulnerable and marginalised sections of the society affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdowns, constituted a ‘Committee of Experts on Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on Human Rights and Future Response’.

The Committee, included representatives from the civil society organizations, independent domain experts, and the representatives from the concerned ministries/ departments, and was tasked to assess the impact of the pandemic on realization of the rights of the people, especially the marginalised / vulnerable sections of the population which have been disproportionately impacted.

After due consideration of the impact assessment and recommendations made by the Committee of Experts, the Commission has now issued the ‘Human Rights Advisory for Protection of the Rights of LGBTQI+ community in the context of COVID-19 pandemic’, available on https://nhrc.nic.in/sites/default/files/Advisory_for_the_Protection_of_the_Rights_of_LGBTQI%2B_Community_0.pdf

The Commission has also requested to concerned Union Ministry and all States/UTs for implementation of the recommendations contained in the advisory and compliance the action taken report to the Commission.


NHRC 

Press Release dt. 19-10-2020

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), viewing the unprecedented situation across the country and being deeply concerned about the rights of the vulnerable and marginalised sections of the society affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdowns, constituted a ‘Committee of Experts on Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on Human Rights and Future Response’.

The Committee, included representatives from the civil society organizations, independent domain experts, and the representatives from the concerned ministries/ departments, and was tasked to assess the impact of the pandemic on realization of the rights of the people, especially the marginalised / vulnerable sections of the population which have been disproportionately impacted.

After due consideration of the impact assessment and recommendations made by the Committee of Experts, the Commission has now issued the ‘Advisory on Rights of Women in the context of COVID-19’, available on https://nhrc.nic.in/activities/reports-and-recommandations

The Commission has also requested to concerned Union Ministries and all States/UTs for implementation of the recommendations contained in the advisory and compliance the action taken report to the Commission.


National Human Rights Commission

Press Release dt. 08-10-2020

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), India viewing the unprecedented situation across the country and being deeply concerned about the rights of the vulnerable and marginalised sections of the society affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdowns, constituted a ‘Committee of Experts on Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on Human Rights and Future Response’.

The Committee included representatives from the civil society organizations, independent domain experts, and the representatives from the concerned Ministries/ Departments, and was tasked to assess the impact of the pandemic on realization of the rights of the people, especially the marginalised / vulnerable sections of the population which have been disproportionately impacted.

After due consideration of the impact assessment and recommendations made by the Committee of Experts, the Commission issued the advisories on following human rights issues:

1. Human Rights Advisory on Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic: Human Rights of the Prisoners & Police Personnel and Future Response.

2. Human Rights Advisory on Human Rights of Informal Workers during COVID-19.

3. Human Rights Advisory on Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic: Businesses & Human Rights and Future Response.

The Commission has also requested to concerned Ministries/States/UTs to implement the recommendations made in the advisories and compliance with the action taken report to the Commission.


National Human Rights Commission

Hot Off The PressNews

The Commission took suo-motu cognizance of alleged suicide of 40 years old rape accused in police custody and directs issuance of notice to the Commissioner of Police, Delhi calling for a detailed report in the matter within two weeks. The Commission has noticed that this case of custodial death has not been reported by the authorities within 24 hours of its occurrence, the authorities are expected to explain the reasons.

All the reports, including the inquest and the post-mortem examination reports accompanying video CDs and medical report, of the deceased before being lodged in the lockup to be forwarded to the Commission. The Commission would also sought the details of the persons, who were put in the lockup in both the police stations for any reason, during the period the victim was lodged. It is expected that the magisterial enquiry in the matter will be completed without any further delay.

According to media report that the deceased was out on parole after being convicted in a case of robbery & murder and another of rape, a 40-year-old man allegedly raped a 14-year-old girl in an outer Delhi locality on 19th September,2020 and died allegedly by suicide hours later after being arrested for rape of minor.

It is also mentioned in the news report that the family members of the deceased saw policemen beating him in the police station. The Deputy Commissioner of Police, outer North District, Delhi, has stated history about deceased, being accused and convicted of robbery & murder and sexually assaulted a 10 years old boy. The deceased was released on parole on 02.02.2020 and later, his parole period was extended due to pandemic.

Also, the news report states that the single mother of rape victim was not at home when the incident took place. The deceased was arrested on the allegations of rape under POCSO Act and was kept in police custody. The nephew of the deceased has reportedly stated that when he reached the Swarup Nagar police station, he saw a group of policemen beating his uncle.

The next day, the family was informed about the incident of man hanging himself at Samaypur Badli police station. The Deputy Commissioner of Police has reportedly stated that the CCTV camera footage has been preserved and the guard on duty has been placed on suspension.

The police personnel have apparently failed to do their lawful duty at two stages, first when a person with a history of committing crime was out on parole; it was expected from the local police station to keep an eye on his activities through Beat Constable and other sources. Secondly, when such a person was kept in the police lock up, it was normal to be more vigilant to keep check on him during his stay inside the lock up.

The deceased was in the lawful custody of the police. “Right to life” of the deceased has been violated and the state cannot escape its liability. This is a case of violation of human rights.

Apart from this, considering the trauma suffered by the poor victim who is a minor girl, the Chief Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi is directed to inform about her health condition as well as the relief, rehabilitation and counseling provided to her by the administration.


NHRC

[Press Release dt. 21-09-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Allegations levelled by Amnesty International

National Human Rights Commission, India takes suo motu cognizance of the matter and directs issuance of the notice to the Home Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India, New Delhi, calling for their comments on the allegations levelled by the Amnesty International as mentioned in the news report.

According to media reports that the complete freezing of its India bank accounts the Amnesty International Organization in India has reportedly halted all the work in which it has been engaged in the country.

In a statement, the organization has stated that it has been compelled to let go of staff in India and pause all its ongoing campaign and research work.

It is alleged that this is the latest in the incessant witch-hunt of human rights organizations by the Govt. of India over unfounded and motivated allegations.

The news report gives more details stating that on 22-10-19, Amnesty International testified at the US Congressional hearing on human rights in South Asia, with a specific focus on Jammu & Kashmir after the Indian Parliament on 5th August pushed through constitutional changes that divested Jammu & Kashmir of its special status and reorganized it into two Union Territories. On August, 28 the rights groups released an investigative brief on the complicity of the Delhi Police in the month of February, 2020. Amnesty International had claimed that 53 people had died in the riot while Delhi Police rebutted the claim saying that the report was lopsided, biased and malicious. Amnesty International has reportedly accused the government of suppressing the speech and demanded the release of activists Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Sudha Bhardwaj, Surendra Gadling and others who were arrested in connection with the January, 2018 caste clashes in Bhima-Koregaon near Pune in Maharashtra. It is also mentioned in the news report that this is the fifth time when Amnesty International is closing down its office in India.

The Union Home Ministry has reportedly mentioned in their statement that the stand taken by the Amnesty International is unfortunate, exaggerated and far from the truth. The organization has been accused of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) violations, and “interference in domestic police debates” despite being funded by foreign donations.

The rights group has reportedly denied the financial violations charges and has stated that they have been in full compliance with all laws.

INVESTIGATION

It is further mentioned in the news report that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has been investigating the rights group since October, 2018 when they raided its office in Bengaluru and the accounts of the organization were frozen. In the year 2019, the Income Tax Department wrote to the office bearers of the organization seeking their clarifications on the subject. It is also mentioned that in November, 2019, CBI has filed a case against Amnesty International alleging that it has received Rs. 36 crore in funding without the mandatory permission required under the FCRA. The Investigative Agencies have also reportedly alleged that the fundraising model of Amnesty International India was in violation of FCRA that amounts to money laundering. The organization has also been blamed for its activities which are in clear contravention of laid down Indian laws. The organization has reportedly stated that their harassment by the government is a result of their unequivocal calls for transparency in the government, more recently for accountability of the Delhi Police and the Government of India regarding the grave human rights violations in the Delhi riots and in Jammu & Kashmir. The charges of the organization have however been denied by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleging that the organization was raising funds from abroad in contravention of the Indian laws. They have also stated that there has been shifting money transfer to the companies and there is a suspected flow of money into the trust of Amnesty International.

The Commission has carefully examined the contents of the news report.

Amnesty International is a reputed non-governmental organization raising its voice globally whenever there is an incident of violation of the human rights of the people. The allegations levelled by the organization are serious in nature and have been strongly answered by the government agency. Any kind of difference of opinion may be a subject of investigation and decision by the competent court.

The Commission finds it necessary to go through the matter, analyse the facts and reach a conclusion in the interest of human rights friendly environment in the country.

The response is expected within six weeks.


NHRC

[Press Release dt. 30-09-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The Commission takes suo-motu cognizance of the matter and directs the issuance of notice to the Director-General of Police, Uttar Pradesh calling for a detailed report in the matter within 4 weeks including the status of the investigation of the cases registered in connection with both the cases of murder.

The Commission also directs to issue a notice to the Chief Secretary to the Government of Uttar Pradesh calling for a report on whether any relief has been granted to the NOK of the deceased as the state has failed to secure the right to a fair trial of the victim. He is also expected to inform the status of any disciplinary action initiated against the delinquent officers/officials.

According to the police, the deceased man was from Gorakhpur and had come to the village, looking for a teacher named, Sudhir Kumar Singh. As soon as he saw Singh, he took out his father’s gun and killed the teacher, according to the police. After shooting the teacher, the man tried to escape but on spotting a crowd outside the house, he climbed the terrace, waved the gun and fired to keep the villagers at bay. A police team followed him to the terrace but the man escaped and was caught by a crowd, which set upon him. The videos relating to the incident emerged later, showed the man in police custody before the mob grabbed and attacked him.

According to the media reports, several policemen were present on the spot when the incident occurred. Some of the policemen were seen trying to control the crowd but the blows did not stop even when the man lay motionless. The police station in-charge of the area has been suspended for negligence. The victim’s head appeared to have been bashed in as the ground was splattered with blood.

The Commission has perused the contents that cruel high handedness by the villagers, taking law in their hands that too in the presence of police force, cannot be denied. A well-equipped police team was present on the spot when the victim was brutally attacked with sticks and stones.

The police personnel present at the time of the fateful incident and their in-charge definitely failed to do their lawful duty. Human life has been lost due to the apparent negligence of the public authority. This is a serious violation of human rights.


NHRC

Press Release dt. 08-09-2020

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