Bengaluru

‘Human rights literacy should be made available to the youngest mind’

S.R. Nayak, whose term as Chairperson of the KSHRC ended on July 25, saysthere’s much more to do. File Photo: R.Eswarraj

S.R. Nayak, whose term as Chairperson of the KSHRC ended on July 25, saysthere’s much more to do. File Photo: R.Eswarraj  

"If I had all the facilities, I could have by this time turned out very good reports, research — that disappointment is there" said S R Nayak, the former Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court

Subray Rama Nayak, the former Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court, served as the first Chairperson of the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission (KSHRC) from July 25, 2007 to July 25, 2012. In an interview with The Hindu a day before he demitted office, he spoke about the “infant institution” and the challenges facing it. Excerpts.

The commission has registered over 35,000 cases, of which over 24,000 have been disposed of. What about the remaining ones? What is the average time frame for the disposing of a case?

There are about 12,000 cases pending, in different stages. The pressure is so much you cannot fix a time frame. Some cases from 2007 and 2008 are still pending. We give preference to old cases.

Do you think you have been able to strike a balance between disposing of cases and touring the State to raise awareness about human rights?

Section 12 of the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993 lists the functions of the commission [as ranging from] taking suo motu action on complaints of rights violations … to promoting research in the field and spreading human rights literacy. All these functions are very important. I think human rights literacy should be made available to the youngest mind. In addition [to other activities as chairperson], on more than 350 occasions, I have addressed various fora…

You have said in the past that a significant number of cases registered with the KSHRC relate to violation of human rights by police. Do you think it is fair to have senior police officers investigate wrongdoing by their colleagues under the commission, and in the case of Karnataka, are you satisfied that it has been done honestly?

Investigation is not a layman’s job. The government has to depute investigation officers. In a functionally independent organisation such as the KSHRC, we can certainly control and monitor the actions of our investigating officers. There may be cases in which complaints are registered against police officers with whom they may have had connections earlier. To the extent that we can conduct inquiries into our own agency, we are doing it. On that count I did not face problems.

Are there any structural changes you would like to see in the commission?

I honestly don’t know what the wisdom is of reducing the number of members. Earlier, there were four, but in 2006, the number was reduced to two. It is very difficult to cope with the large number of complaints before the commission. It is better to restore the earlier position.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently?

Yes. Basically, I am an academician. If I had all the facilities, I could have by this time turned out very good reports, research — that disappointment is there. I wanted to build a well-stocked library for the KSHRC, but I could not, for want of space and other things. Hundreds of students every year from every nook and corner of India come here to do internships in human rights. I could have trained them, much more than I have done, with modern facilities.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 2:07:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/human-rights-literacy-should-be-made-available-to-the-youngest-mind/article3687972.ece

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