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NHRC registering more cases, says there is more awareness

Some cases had been taken up by the courts or State human rights commissions, others were closed or disposed off for lack of a clear offence being established. File Photo  

Cases registered by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) have gone up over the past three years, but those where monetary relief was recommended have in fact declined.

While the NHRC cannot prosecute, the best case scenario for complainants is when the apex human rights panel recommends monetary relief for them. Data from the NHRC analysed by The Hindu showed that the cases where relief was recommended fell 26 per cent from 2013-2014 to 2015-2016. For the same time period, the number of cases registered by the Commission rose 20 per cent.

In 2013-2014, 98,136 cases were registered and monetary relief was recommended in 443. While the number of cases lodged in 2014-2015 rose to 1.14 lakh, the cases where relief was granted decreased to 378. The trend continued in 2015-2016, with 1.17 lakh cases being registered and relief being recommended in 326 cases.

The figures do come with a note of caution, however, with NHRC officials explaining that there are several reasons behind fewer cases ending with monetary relief. Some cases were taken up by the courts or State human rights commissions, others were closed or disposed off for lack of a clear offence being established.

Complaints where someone lost their life or was hurt were clearer cases of compensation. Four types of complaints – custodial death (judicial and police), death in police encounter and alleged fake encounters – accounted for almost 2 per cent of cases lodged in 2015-2016, but 35 per cent of cases relief was granted. The magnitude of the offence had a role to play, as per NHRC officials.

Over the three years, cases related to the police remained the top contributor to the NHRC's load, accounting for 30 per cent of total cases registered in 2015-2016.

On the number of cases increasing, the NHRC chalked up the trend to better awareness amongst complainants.

“In the view of the NHRC, the people's faith in the Commission has been increasing because of the way it has been dealing with cases. There is also increased awareness thanks to the NHRC's own efforts and the media,” said Jaimini Kumar Srivastava, NHRC spokesperson.

tHE Commission was working with other stakeholders to increase awareness as well as State governments' compliance with its orders, he said.

For human rights experts, the increasing number of cases brought mixed reactions.

Devika Prasad, the coordinator of the police reforms programme of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, said that the rise in complaints signalled cause for “both cheer and worry”.

“While it is positive that more and more people are accessing the Commission for redress, it also tells us that allegations of human rights violations by public servants are rising. The NHRC's role in realising accountability for human rights violations is the crux of the issue,” Ms. Prasad said.

She added that since the hike in numbers of cases indicated greater awareness, the “markers of people's faith must be the response of the NHRC in each and every case and the redress provided.”

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Printable version | Oct 15, 2021 6:22:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/NHRC-registering-more-cases-says-there-is-more-awareness/article14591227.ece

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