Case BriefsCOVID 19Tribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Human Rights Commission, India, after taking cognizance of a complaint about the brutal assault on a doctor by the relatives of a Covid patient at Udali Model Hospital in Hojai district of Assam 01-06-2021 has called for the action taken report from the Chief Secretary and the Director-General of Police, Government of Assam into the alleged incident within four weeks. Besides an enquiry into the allegations, the report is expected to include the needful preventive and punitive action taken in the matter.

The Commission has also sent a copy of the complaint to the Secretary, Union Health & Family Welfare Ministry to initiate necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of the frontline health workers in the country.

According to the complaint, having attached media reports,

the incident happened after the Covid patient had died. Allegedly, some of the frontline medical workers, Doctors, Nurses and Ward boys managed to escape but also got hurt and are deeply traumatized due to this horrific incident.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 4-06-2021]

Appointments & TransfersNews

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

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

Background

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

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

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

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

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


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 02-06-2021]

Case BriefsCOVID 19Tribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission,  India has taken cognizance of a complainant that the mass gatherings of protesting farmers, flouting Covid appropriate behaviour, are against the very rules/norms laid down by the Central Government and the advisory of the Commission itself as safeguards against the pandemic. Allegedly, the situation is likely to worsen day by day due to the increased inflow of the farmers at the sites of protests: they are not only putting their lives at risk but also posing a risk, as the potential carriers of the virus, to the others in the rural areas.

Accordingly, the Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretaries of NCT of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to submit action taken reports regarding the steps taken to control the spread of Covid-19 infection at the protest sites of the farmers. The report is to be submitted within four weeks.

Issuing the notices, the Commission has observed that the country is passing through an unprecedented and scary second wave of Covid-19, which has already claimed more than three lakh human lives and is still raging virulently in different parts of the country.

It has further observed that the Central and State Governments are struggling against all odds to save lives in the face of inadequate health facilities. Measures like lockdowns, containment zones and Covid protocols are employed to somehow overpower the deadly Covid, which is now leading to other serious diseases like black fungus, white fungus etc. In these extraordinary circumstances, our sole aim has to be saving human lives.

The complainant has also stated that more than 300 farmers have died during this ongoing protests due to several reasons including Covid infections. The Cases of black fungus etc are also rising. He has sought intervention of the Commission apprehending that situation may become more worrisome as the farmers, in large numbers, are planning for observing 26th May, 2021 as the Black Day.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 25-05-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: The Full Bench of Rajesh Bindal, C.J. (A), I. P. Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen, Subrata Talukdar, JJ., took upon a series of petitions which were filed in the matter pertaining to post-poll violence in the State of West Bengal.

On the last date of hearing, the Court had requested the Advocate General to apprise the Court about any designated e-mail id to enable the aggrieved persons to lodge their complaints online. It was on the allegation of the petitioners that they were not permitted to lodge complaints in the police station and in some cases they were unable to do so as that they had to run away from their places of residence. This information could not be furnished and more time has been sought to furnish the same.

The Court in the meantime directed that if any person has suffered on account of post-poll violence, he shall be at liberty to file complaint along with the supporting documents to the National Human Rights Commission, West Bengal Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Women and National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The same can be either by way of hard copy or online. The aforesaid commissions in turn will forward those complaints to the Director General of Police, West Bengal immediately.

[Anindya Sundar Das v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Cal 1637, decided on 18-05-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

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

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

Background

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

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

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

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

Court’s Verdict

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

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

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

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


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance before the Court by:

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

Hot Off The PressNews

The persistence of the National Human Rights Commission, India in a case of food poisoning of 15 children in a government school in Maliguda, Odisha, resulted in the payment of Rs. 8 lakh. Out of which Rs. 50,000 each has been paid to the 14 students who fell sick and Rs. 1 lakh to the mother of boy who succumbed to his illness.

For negligence, 2 teachers were put under suspension and departmental proceedings initiated against them. The complaint was received about the incident on 20th January 2018.

Notice by NHRC 

Earlier, in response to the notices of the Commission, the reports from the State Govt. revealed that an ex-gratia of Rs.2 Lakhs was already sanctioned by the Collector for the payment to the NoK of the victim. Punitive action was initiated against the 2 teachers for negligence.

Show Cause Notice

Subsequently, the Commission issued a show-cause notice to the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Odisha why a sum of Rs.1 Lakh be not recommended to be paid u/s 18 of the Protection of Human Rights Act to the Next of kin of the deceased student in addition to the ex-gratia of Rs.2 Lakhs already sanctioned by the Collector.

Compensation

Pursuant to the directions of the Commission, the Govt. of Odisha submitted the compliance report along with proof of payment, wherein it has been stated that Rs. 1 lakh has been paid to the mother of the deceased boy and Rs. 50,000/- each to other 14 students.


National Human Rights Commission

[Dt. 09-04-2021]

Hot Off The PressNews

National Human Rights Commission, India has taken cognizance of complaints alleging that there has been an exponential increase in the incidents of crime against women in Rajasthan.

Allegedly, 80,000 cases were registered in the State pertaining to the crime against women in the last one year. Out of which more than 12,000 are rape cases. Giving the press clippings in support of the allegations, the Commission has requested for its intervention in the matter.

The Commission has observed that the allegations and the incidents appear to be serious in nature indicating violation of human rights. It appears that there has been an unabated crime against women in the State, which raises a question mark on the efficacy of the State Machinery in curbing such crimes. It is the cardinal duty of the State to protect the rights of the women and punish the perpetrators without fail.

Accordingly, the Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary, and the Director-General of Police, Rajasthan directing them to enquire into the specific incidents and submit an Action Taken Report mentioning each of the incidents to the Commission within four weeks. They shall also inform the Commission about the steps being taken by the State for inspiring confidence in the women and the girls ensuring their safety and security in the State.

Highlighting the state of affairs with regards to crime against women, the complainant has drawn the attention of the Commission towards some of the following incidents that happened in the last one month and has requested its intervention in the matter:

1. Kidnapping of a minor girl at Jalore, on 22.03.2021 and self-immolation by the mother of the victim because of the inaction of the authority.

2. Gang-rape of a minor at Kota by more than 30 persons between 25.02.2021 to 06.03.2021.

3. Gang-rape victim was burnt alive at Hanumangarh on 05.03.2021.

4. Gang-rape of a woman at Kota on 06.03.2021.

5. Rape of a woman by the ASI when she came to lodge a report, on 07.03.2021.

6. Rape of a woman at Ajmer on 08.03.2021.

7. Disrobing and beating of the mother and the daughter on 09.03.2021.

8. Attempt to kidnap and rape of a teacher on 13.03.2021.

9. Attempt to rape of a woman at the DCP Office by the ACP, on 14.03.2021.

10. Rape of a patient in the ICU by the Nursing Person at Jaipur, on 15.03.2021.

11. Rape and making an obscene video of a woman on 15.03.2021.

12. Many incidents like gang-rape of a minor at Jhunjhunu, rape of a 6-year-old child in Sri Ganganagar, sexual harassment of a girl in Bhilwara, kidnapping and rape of a minor at Alwar, rape and making of obscene video of a girl, on 18.03.2021.

13. Beating by use of lathi of a pregnant daughter at Village Sirana, Pali, on 19.03.2021.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 26-03-2021]

Hot Off The PressNews

Cause of Suo Motu Cognizance

The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that in Etah district of Uttar Pradesh, two policemen got involved in a squabble at a ‘dhaba’ (eatery) over payment of bill for the food they consumed. The policemen then falsely implicated and arrested ten people including the brother of the owner of the eatery and eight customers in an alleged encounter with them. The persons reportedly arrested by the police are presently lodged in judicial custody.

To whom did NHRC issue a notice?

The Commission has issued a notice to the Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh calling for a report in the matter within six weeks. A copy of the these proceedings has also been sent to the Member Secretary, Uttar Pradesh State Legal Aid Services Authority to ensure free legal aid to the arrested people, if not provided.

Violation of Human Rights?

Issuing the notice the Commission has observed that the contents of the media report, if true, raise serious issue of violation of Human Rights. The incident, apparently, is a classic example of failure of entire system of checks and balances. Hence, fair investigation is required to be conducted to know where the policemen could manage to procure these items.

What did the media report consist of?

According to the media report, carried on 23.03.2021, the owner of the eatery alleged that on 04.02.2021, two policemen, who were on duty, came and had food at his dhaba and later refused to pay the bill of Rs.400/-. The policemen, reportedly offered only Rs.80/- and the brother of the owner asked them to pay at least Rs.200/-. Some of the customers, present at that time, also asked the policemen to pay the bill. An argument reportedly took place and the policemen started beating the brother of the owner of the eatery. After this the policemen left the place.

After some time, around fifteen policemen reportedly arrived in three vehicles, pointed guns and took away the brother and the cousin of the eatery owner, as well as eight customers with them to the Kotwali (Rural) Police Station and an FIR, was registered against them.

The owner of the eatery, who is specially-abled, was reportedly, spared by the police. The persons arrested by the police are lodged in judicial custody and as per the FIR, ten people, part of a gang, were hatching a plan to commit a crime of loot and the police caught them after an encounter. Six illegal weapons, eighty liters illicit liquor and 2 kg contraband had been reportedly projected as recovered from the persons arrested by the police.

The Additional Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh has reportedly asked the Senior Superintendent of Police, Etah to get an investigation conducted in a time bound manner. The District Magistrate of Etah has also ordered probe into the incident as mentioned in the news report. It is also mentioned in the news report that the Station House Officer of the Kotwali Dehat police station has been placed under suspension.


National Human Rights Commisssion

Hot Off The PressNews

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

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

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

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


NHRC

Hot Off The PressNews

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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]