SHRC chief rebuts CM’s charges

Says he is well within his rights to intervene in the issue

April 25, 2018 07:00 pm | Updated April 26, 2018 01:35 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

SHRC acting chairman P. Mohandas has said he is well within his rights to demand a CBI probe into the custodial death at Varapuzha.

SHRC acting chairman P. Mohandas has said he is well within his rights to demand a CBI probe into the custodial death at Varapuzha.

A day after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan slammed State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) acting chairman P. Mohandas for his statement demanding a CBI inquiry into the custodial death at Varapuzha, Mr. Mohandas has defended his stand maintaining that he is well within his rights to intervene in the issue.

Talking to The Hindu , Mr. Mohandas said he was shocked by the Chief Minister’s remarks accusing him of political bias in making a statement on the custodial death of Sreejith. “As acting chairman of the commission, I have only carried out my responsibility to highlight a human rights violation,” he said.

“On April 3, at a seminar on human rights issues in the health sector, the Chief Minister had publicly lauded my role as acting chairman of the SHRC. The sudden change in his attitude on Tuesday took me by surprise,” he said.

Mr. Mohandas said he had intervened in the case on April 6 following the allegation of custodial torture at Varapuzha. “The police report to the court and the medical evidence on the subsequent death of Sreejith pointed to the culpability of the police. Recognising the vicarious responsibility of the government, the commission also recommended compensation for the family of Sreejith and a job for a family member,” he said.

On Police Chief's transfer

Justifying his comment on the transfer of District Police Chief, Ernakulam Rural, A.V. George to the Police Academy, Thrissur, Mr. Mohandas said he had found it inappropriate since Mr. George was suspected to be involved in the custodial death as head of the Rural Tiger Force.

On the Chief Minister’s remark that the commission had taken a politically biased stand, Mr. Mohandas said he had no politics. “During my 30 years in judicial service, I have never been politically influenced and have no reason to take a political view now.”

On Tuesday, the Chief Minister had commented that the commission should refrain from taking a political stand and confine itself to addressing human rights issues.

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