NHRC asks Centre to frame guidelines for lockdown without violating rights

April 15, 2020 10:56 pm | Updated 10:56 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday asked the Centre to issue an advisory to all States and Union Territories to implement the ongoing lockdown without violating the public’s rights.

Also read: Human rights activists write to NHRC on police excesses

The NHRC said it had written to the Union Home ministry to issue a suitable advisory or standard operating procedure for all public officials, including police personnel, to “behave in a sensible manner with the people, particularly those belonging to vulnerable sections, respecting human rights relating to their life, liberty and dignity”.

While the national rights panel did not issue a notice with a specified time frame for reply, it said it expects a response “at the earliest”. The Commission issued the direction after one of its special monitors and human rights activist, Maja Daruwala, raised the issue of public servants, including the police, undermining the rights of people, particularly labourers, while implementing the lockdown.

“Issuing the directions, the Commission has observed that it appreciates that the government agencies are sincerely working to deal with the unprecedented situation to fight the spread of COVID-19 ... However, it found it appropriate to bring the issues raised by the complainant to the notice of the Central government,” the NHRC said in a statement.

Ms. Daruwala noted that the police were doing many “good things” and the recent incident of a policeman’s hand being chopped off while enforcing the lockdown in Punjab was “unforgivable”, the panel said. At the same time, those police officials who were “using this time to be cruel and harsh must be stopped,” it added.

“Allegedly, those who are illiterate and less informed, mainly the poor labourers and daily wages workers etc., are facing extreme difficulties due to shortage of food and other facilities for themselves and their families. They can be asked to stay off the streets with some degree of compassion without being cruel and abusive using excessive force,” the NHRC said.

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