THE NEWS IN PROPORTION
20 October 2014
HOME
AGRICULTURE
CHILDREN
ECONOMY
EDUCATION
ENVIRONMENT
GOVERNMENT
HEALTH
HUMAN RIGHTS
LAWS
MEDIA
PEACE
POVERTY
RTI
SOCIETY
WOMEN
SEARCH  
AGRICULTURE
CHILDREN
ECONOMY
EDUCATION
ENVIRONMENT
GOVERNMENT
HEALTH
HUMAN RIGHTS
LAWS
MEDIA
PEACE
POVERTY
RIGHT TO INFO
SOCIETY
WOMEN
 
SERVICES
Advertise
Contact Us
Newsletter
Submit
  • Human rights Homepage
  • Protection is the NHRC's primary mandate
    The Commission suffers from an incomplete understanding of its purpose, says Vineeta Gupta
    Mail this page to a friend
    Chandigarh, September 2002 - The National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC), by its stand in the Shivani murder controversy, has exposed the limited usefulness of human rights commissions setup by the government at the national and state levels.

    In August, as reported widely in the media, the NHRC turned down a plea for protection made by the family of senior IPS officer R.K.Sharma, the accused in the investigation. The argument forwarded by the commission for its refusal to consider the plea was that “there was no occasion for [it] to look into the matter since it was a case involving the family of an absconder”. The commission asked the family to file a separate petition for the protection of family members, not including the absconder, which was then done.

    Some scrutiny of this rejection is warranted. What is noteworthy here is that the NHRC rejected the petition on the technicality that relief for the absconder was sought in the same petition as for his family members. This is a distinction without basis in the human rights framework - all members of the Sharma family, including the absconder, have the same human rights. These are derived from their individual humanity and dignity, and not from their legal standing in individual cases. That the human rights commission should make such a distinction speaks poorly of its understanding of itself.

    Moreover, the commission's mandate and jurisdiction relate to the protection of citizens' human rights, typically when these rights are threatened by the apparatus of the state. Therefore any technical considerations resembling the state-led judicial process must yield to considerations of this mandate. The NHRC would do best to make it easy for common people to obtain justice. The Shivani murder case is a high profile case involving people of high political office and ample resources.

    When one considers the many reasons why an appellant may be unable to file a second petition - lack of resources, the urgency of the matter, inadequate legal representation, etc. - the rejection of a human rights plea on such a technicality is plainly unjust. It is unfortunate that a statutory body established for the promotion and protection of human rights should articulate its position in this manner. The commission should have limited itself to considering the case primarily on its merits and additionally on the NHRC's jurisdiction.

    The NHRC as well as State Human Rights Commissions have been reduced to conducting conventional judicial proceedings with people, many of them poor, spending large sums on lawyers to represent them in the hope of obtaining justice. It often takes years for the commissions to act on individual cases, and many of these are simply dropped, with the commission citing helplessness, or inability to resolve questions of jurisdiction. Speedy dispensation of justice to victims of human rights violations, and the punishment of powerful violators has been rare. Even the one area where commissions have made some progress - obtaining monetary compensation - has inolved money outflows from the state exchequer rather than burdening or punishing perpetrators. Pinching the state treasury does nothing to make the real violators pay.

    The Shivani murder case has become a national controversy, with the alleged involvement of one of the most powerful IPS officers and a high-ranking politician. It is essential that every citizen of the country knows the truth behind the murder of this journalist. All statutory bodies with jurisdiction over this crime must ensure that no underhand, undemocratic or inhuman means and methods are employed to hide the culprits and any potential conspirators.

    Vineeta Gupta
    September 2002

    Vineeta Gupta is with INSAAF International, a nonprofit, voluntary organisation, based in Bathinda, Punjab. INSAAF addresses issues of human rights in general, with special focus on women.

    NEWSLETTER
    Newly published articles delivered each week to your Inbox.

    ... contribute by cheque
    Write your cheque or DD out to 'INDIA TOGETHER' and either post or courier it to the address below:


    India Together
    Attn: Reader Contributions
    1677, 17th Main Road
    JP Nagar II Phase
    Bangalore 560078

     

    Topics Other Sections

    Subscribe

    India Together

    Also see our sister publication

    India Together is published in part with support from Oorvani Foundation, supporting public-funded media for the new India.
    Oorvani Foundation


    © Oorvani Media Pvt. Ltd., all rights reserved.