Reiterating provisions of the Protection of Human Rights Act, the Madras High Court has ruled that the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has no jurisdiction to enquire into a complaint after expiry of a year since the violation was alleged to have been committed.

Setting aside an order passed by SHRC, Justice S. Nagamuthu said, “The Commission has no jurisdiction to enquire into the complaint after the period prescribed in the Act.”

C. Rangarajan, a resident of Pattukkottai in Thanjavur district, had approached the SHRC with a complaint against Inspector P. Rajasekaran, who had arrested him on non-bailable charges in 2000. While he was arrested for an offence under Section 399 of IPC (preparation for dacoity), he was later charge-sheeted on bailable offences (rioting and mischief). Subsequently, he had been discharged by the trial court.

In his complaint, Rangarajan his human rights had been violated as he was remanded to custody and made to comply with stringent bail conditions. He had to undergo a great ordeal which could have been avoided if he had not been arrested, as the ultimate charges against him were bailable.

In 2003, the SHRC directed the State government to pay compensation of Rs.50,000 to Mr. Rangarajan and recover the amount from the inspector. It also asked the government to initiate disciplinary action against the inspector. Challenging the SHRC order, the inspector filed a writ petition in the High Court.

The inspector contended that it was only after the investigation was completed that he came to know that the offences were bailable and that he had not violated Mr. Rangarajan’s rights.

Mr.Justice Nagamuthu noted that the alleged human rights violation occurred in 2000, whereas the complaint was filed only in 2003. Thus, the Commission had no jurisdiction to enquire into the complaint after the period prescribed in Section 36(2) of the Act. A plain reading of the provision would leave one in no doubt that the period began from the date on which the violation was committed and not from the date on which the victim came to know of it.

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