A lack of clarity over the powers vested with the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has led to a prolonged delay in the implementation of its orders on various cases of human rights violation, including those involving police excesses.
At least 50 orders passed by the Commission since October last year, recommending compensation to victims and action against erring policemen, have not been implemented yet.
Informed sources in the SHRC pointed out that only one G.O. had been issued all through this period by the Home Department implementing the Commission’s recommendation.
“The other problem is that before a G.O. is issued by the Home Department to give effect to the SHRC’s recommendation, the affected officials against whom actions have been recommended move the Madras High Court and obtain a stay,” an SHRC official said.
The High Court could only grant a stay on the G.O. of the government and not on the order of the Commission, he claimed. Since there had not been a standing counsel for the SHRC to represent it before the High Court, the Commission’s point of view was often not presented during the hearing of a case, another official said.
Various Benches of the High Court, while hearing cases against the orders of the SHRC since January this year, have given diverse judgments. For instance, while one Bench set aside an order, another set aside the order only to direct a fresh hearing of a case. Another Bench directed that the case be placed before the Full Bench of the High Court.
‘Lacking in spirit’
“There has been a lot of confusion on whether the orders of the Commission can be implemented directly. I have directed [during his tenure as a judge] that they can be enforced but another Bench ordered otherwise. This confusion would go on unless there is an amendment to the relevant Act to empower the Commission to enforce its own orders,” pointed out retired Madras High Court judge K. Chandru. When the government set up the State Human Rights Commissions in all the States, the objective was only to comply with various international conventions and not to uphold human rights in true spirit, Mr. Chandru claimed. “Unless the SHRCs have power, their orders cannot be expected to be implemented without delay,” he said.
Advocate and executive director of Madurai-based People’s Watch Henri Tiphagne said though the Investigation Wing of the SHRC had been doing a splendid job, it would matter only if its orders were implemented.
“Else, people coming to the Commission would lose faith in not just the institution but also in the rule of law. We are intending to intervene in the matter so that the victims get justice. The High Court must stand by the institution and also for human rights,” the human rights activist said. Home Secretary Niranjan Mardi couldn’t be reached for a response.