But for an immediate intervention to appoint new members and a chairperson by the State government, the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission will likely be defanged, with its incumbent office-bearers all set to retire shortly.
With the Assembly elections scheduled for May, the model code of conduct is expected to kick in from March last week.
Unless new appointments are made by then, the KSHRC will go headless during the key election season, point out human rights activists and incumbent office-bearers of the commission.
A member of the commission K.B. Changappa, a retired District and Sessions Judge, retired recently.
Another member, Rupak Kumar Dutta, former Director-General of Police (DGP) is set to retire on February 24 and the incumbent chairman D.H. Waghela, a former Chief Justice of Karnataka, Odisha, and Bombay High Courts will retire on March 12.
The government is yet to initiate any process to make new appointments to replace them. The entire process will take over a month, as applications need to be invited, scrutinised, and new appointments made.
“Successive governments have always neglected the autonomous commission. But ahead of a key election season, we demand the government to take immediate action to appoint new members and chairperson before the model code of conduct kicks in,” said T. Narasimhamurthy, city-based advocate and human rights activist.
“With no members and chairman in the commission, there will be no supervisory authority or the commission to assign cases. With even the Inspector-General of Police rank officer heading the KSHRC Police Wing also being given additional charges, the commission will be toothless during the crucial election season, when it is all the more needed,” said a senior official.
Though the commission’s bureaucracy will continue including the police wing, their focus will mostly be on completing pending inquiries, which are over a thousand.
“The crisis will emerge if a case requiring an emergency intervention, including illegal detentions by the police, lands up at the commission, which is likely in an election season,” a senior official said.