Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that more than 17 students, 15 to 19 years, were killed in the massive fire which broke out in the four-storeyed building housing their coaching centre at Surat in Gujarat on the 24th May, 2019. Many are still in critical condition, undergoing medical treatment in hospitals.

Considering the incident as a grave violation of the human rights of the young students, the Commission has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Gujarat calling for a detailed report in the matter including status of the criminal cases registered against the building owner and others found guilty along with action taken against the public servants concerned. He has been asked to include in his the legal status of the building, its construction, fire fighting measures, fire safety clearance and relief granted to the grief-stricken families. The Commission also expects that the best and free of cost treatment is provided by the State to the injured persons. Response from the State government is expected within 4 weeks.

Issuing the notice, the Commission has also observed that it has been constantly insisting the authorities to be more vigilant to avoid such tragic incidents. Going by the media reports, it appears that there was no safe passage for the victims, which could have been used as a fire exit in case of emergency. The mere announcement of compensation to the aggrieved families cannot be a solution to such kind of hazards. Several such incidents have occurred across the country where precious human lives have been lost due to negligence by the authorities and lack of Fire Department’s clearance.

According to the media reports, the fire reportedly started likely due to a short circuit at the staircase near the lower floor and engulfed the entire premises. As there was no way out for the people present on the top floor to come out of the building, they started jumping off the building. Some of them have sustained serious injuries. It is mentioned in the news reports that the horrifying incident was recorded by many passersby, which indicates that nearly a dozen teenagers were trying to escape the thick smoke rising from the building, forcing them to jump off to save their lives.

The fire department officials reached the spot and deployed 19 fire trucks and two hydraulic platforms to douse the fire and evacuate the people trapped in the building. An enquiry into the matter has reportedly been ordered by the state government. Reportedly, Rs 4 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased have been announced by the State government and as a precautionary measure all the Tuition Centres/Coaching centre, etc have been ordered to be closed in the area. The fire hazard checks are also being conducted in various places.


[Dated: 25-05-2019]

National Human Rights Commission

Hot Off The PressNews

Justice H.L. Dattu, Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission, India continues to remain a Member of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, GANHRI, Bureau. His position was ratified during the Annual Meeting of the GANHRI General Assembly at Geneva, Switzerland on the 5th March, 2019, wherein he is leading an NHRC, India delegation comprising Mr Justice P.C. Ghose, Member and Mr Jaideep Govind, Secretary General of the Commission.

Justice Dattu was appointed to this position in 2016 after emerging as the unanimous choice of the NHRIs from the Asia Pacific region. He is representing the Asia Pacific region along with the representatives of three more NHRIs in the region at the GANHRI Bureau meetings. Justice Dattu’s vast experience and legal expertise is considered useful in giving a shape to the approach to the GANHRI on the human rights issues being faced by the international community.

The GANHRI Bureau is an important human rights body, which serves as the Management Committee of the GANHRI. The GANHRI Bureau implements all the decisions of the GANHRI General Meetings and directs the operations of the GANHRI between these meetings.

The GANHRI Bureau consists of sixteen, ‘A’ status NHRIs, four from each region, namely, Americas, Europe, Africa and the Asia-Pacific. Besides the Annual General Meetings, the NHRC, India has been regularly taking part in its activities as an active Member of the GANHRI.

NHRC

Legislation UpdatesNotifications

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports regarding attack on Kashmiri people, including students studying in various institutes at different places in the country in the aftermath of terrorist attack in Pulwama on CRPF convoy. The Commission has observed that the media reports on the incidents, if true, raise serious issue of violation of human rights. The contents therein are shocking and very disheartening.

Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Union Home Secretary and the Secretary, Union Ministry of Human Resource Development calling for reports in two weeks. Notices have also be also issued to the Chief Secretaries of the Governments of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal as well as the Commissioner of Police, Delhi calling for their reports on the incidents mentioned in the news reports within four weeks.

The Commission has further observed that giving such bad treatment by targeting people of a particular region of the country by some elements will destroy the democratic fabric of the country. India is one of the most religiously and ethnically diverse nations in the world and has a rich tolerant culture, which is identified and respected across the world. Such incidents would only tarnish the image of the country. The Central Government has to act quickly by taking action against the miscreants. There is a need for sensitization of local authorities, police agencies and the general public to maintain law and order at every cost.

It added that though there is an atmosphere of grief and anger across the country after the terrorist attack on the convoy of the CRPF in Pulwama in which 42 soldiers were martyred but even in extreme situation, a civilized society cannot accept such kind of violence by the people against their fellow countrymen. Rustication, suspension or action against the students, as mentioned in the news reports, can be a matter of investigation on merits but the incidents of ill-treatment of the Kashmiri people in different parts of the country is definitely in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, which protects equality before the law and equal protection of laws within the territory of India.

According to the media reports, carried today on the 21st February, 2019, the Union Human Resource Development Minister, Mr. Prakash Javadekar has dismissed reports of alleged harassment of Kashmiri students outside their state in the wake of Pulwama terror attack and said that the government is in touch with all institutions in this regard. However, it has also been reported that two Dehradun based educational institutions have stated on record that they will not admit Kashmiri students in future as the colleges, where the Kashmiri students are studying, were threatened by the mob. At least 10 Kashmiri students have been booked and around 20 suspended or rusticated from colleges across the country for what officials called “anti-national” social media posts. Once of the colleges suspended its Dean from Jammu & Kashmir as the mob asked to do it.

As per media reports, several Kashmiri students, migrants, traders and professionals have had to pack up and leave from different parts of the country particularly, Uttarakhand and Haryana. As per media reports, a 19 year old girl from Pulwama, posted some contents in praise of Pakistan on her Instagram account and six students belonging to the same group were suspended by a university in Roorkee.

Apart from this, there are media reports stating that 34 workers had left Muzaffarnagar and some more are planning to leave as some members of “Bharatiya Kisan Union” protested outside the mill and demanded that Kashmiri workers should be sent back. The Union said that people abuse and throw stones at the soldiers in the valley and come here to take shelter, hence they should be sent back to the valley. As mentioned in the news report, a 22 year old worker has stated that there are very few jobs available in the Kashmir due to which Kashmiri youth prefer to come here to earn an honest living but now it has become very difficult to stay back.

The District Magistrate of Muzaffarnagar has reportedly stated that they do not have a count of Kashmiris working in the area and they have not received any official complaint either from the police or the mill authorities. He has however stated that due action will be taken if any kind of misconduct is noticed.

Another news report published in the newspaper reveals that two Kashmiri youths, who were travelling in a train were beaten up as the mob called them stone pelters. The victims have been selling shawls from Kashmir in Haryana. They are reportedly staying in Delhi since December, 2018 and have been conducting their business for the last 10 years. As the mob attacked them, they somehow managed to escape leaving behind their articles, valuing around Rs. 2 lakhs. Similar incident has occurred, reportedly, in Kolkata, West Bengal.

[Dated: 21-02-2019]

NHRC

Appointments & TransfersNews

Mr Jaideep Govind, 1984 batch IAS officer of Madhya Pradesh Cadre, joined the National Human Rights Commission, on 14th January, 2019. He is the 15th Secretary General of the Commission.

Background:

He has held various important posts in the Government of India, such as Additional Secretary in Ministry of Home Affairs and looked after critical areas of Left Wing Extremism, Police Modernization and procurement for CAPF etc. Mr Govind has also looked after the Centre-State Division and Human Rights Division in the Home Ministry. He addressed the U.N. Forum in New York on human trafficking and attended an important meeting on trafficking of women and children in Bangkok.

He has also served in the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Department of J&K Affairs, Ministry of Tribal Affairs in Government of India. He worked in Madhya Pradesh as Division Commissioner, Ujjain for 3 years, Commissioner (Tribal), Madhya Pradesh and Principal Secretary, Technical and Higher Education etc. As Chief Electoral Officer, Madhya Pradesh he won Special Award in 2014 for best CEO in the country for the conduct of Lok Sabha Elections and also received Best State Award in 2013, for the conduct of Assembly Elections. He also won the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence for Civil Servants in 2010 as part of the team for effective implementation of the Forest Rights Act when he was Tribal Commissioner in Madhya Pradesh.

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Human Rights Commission: NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that a six year old girl, studying in a government school in Delhi, has been allegedly raped by a person working as an electrician with the school around 1.30 P.M. on the 8th August, 2017.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the news report, if true, amount to violation of human rights of the victim. Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Chief Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi and the Commissioner of Police, Delhi calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks. The Chief Secretary is expected to inform whether all the guidelines/directions issued by the authorities for the safety of the students are being followed by the schools in Delhi. The Commission has also observed that the incident is reported to have happened in a government school. Being the custodian of the students, the school authorities are responsible for the safety and security of its students, especially the girl students. Prima Facie the incident indicates towards negligence by the school administration.

The NHRC also feels that there should be a State Human Rights Commission in Delhi to deal with such cases of alleged violation of human rights. However, till it comes into existence, it would continue addressing the issues pertaining to the NCT of Delhi. According to the media report, carried on the 10th August, 2018, the incident took place when the victim girl was about to return home, but she was stopped by the accused. The accused also allegedly warned the victim not to tell it to anyone. The victim was medically examined and the reports confirmed that she has been subjected to rape. An FIR in the matter has been registered by the police and the accused has been arrested.

National Human Rights Commission

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National Human Rights Commission: NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that on 20th July, 2018, a 31-year old Rakbar Khan, from Haryana’s Mewat District was attacked by a group of 8-10 cow vigilantes in Alwar district, Rajasthan and who succumbed to injuries a few hours later. The cow vigilantes have, reportedly, alleged that the victim died in police custody and not because of mob violence as claimed by the authorities. There are further reports in the print media that it took Alwar Police more than 3 hours to travel six km while taking a critically injured victim of lynching to the closest hospital, the Community Health Centre in Ramgarh.
The Commission has observed that the contents of the news reports, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of the victim man. Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and DGP, Govt. of Rajasthan calling for reports in the matter within two weeks.
According to the media reports dated 22nd July, 2018, the victim of mob lynching, in his dying statement, told the police that he and his friend were walking back with two cows they had bought when they came under attack in Alwar’s Ramgarh area by the mob, which accused them of being smugglers taking the cattle for slaughter. Reportedly, rather than saving the life of the victim, the two cows recovered from him seemed to have been the priority of police. The cows were taken to gaushala 10 km away, a good one hour before the victim of mob lynching was brought to the CHC, dead.

National Human Rights Commission

 

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National Human Rights Commission: NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that in a State funded Shelter Home at Muzaffarpur in Bihar, at least 16 girls were raped. 44 girls were living in the home run by an NGO under the supervision of the Social Welfare Department. Reportedly, the Child Protection Officer of Muzaffarpur District has been arrested in connection with alleged sexual exploitation of girls in this Shelter Home. The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the DGP, Government of Bihar, directing them to enquire into the matter and submit a report within two weeks.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the media reports, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of the victim girls. The Shelter Home is supposed to give security and protection to the victim girls but under no stretch of imagination the Shelter Home can be a playing ground of predators for their monstrous and vulturous activities, which are against the human dignity and sobriety of the women. However, in the instant case, the girls have apparently become victim of rape at the instance of the protectors in the Shelter Home, as the Government officials and the Shelter Home staff have been allegedly found to be involved in the incident. The State and the local administration have failed miserably to protect the rights and dignity of the victim girls.
Accordingly, the State authorities have also been asked that their report should also contain the reply to the following specific points:

1. Whether any approval was given by the Social Welfare Department to run the Shelter Home in question and what is the mechanism to monitor its functioning. If any monitoring mechanism is at place, why such incident took place;

2. Whether any of the victims belong to Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe. If yes, whether the police has registered FIR under relevant sections of SC/ST Act and whether steps have been taken to pay monetary relief to such victims under SC/ST (POA) Rules;

3. Whether any Govt. official, as reported in the media, has been found to have involved in the incident. If yes, the details thereof be sent.

They are also expected to ensure that immediate legal action is taken against the accused persons and necessary arrangements/steps be taken for relief and rehabilitation of the victim girls.
According to the media report carried on the 24th July, 2018, the girls have been shifted to other shelter home after the incident came to light. The medical report of 21 of the girls have been submitted to the Muzaffarpur police which confirms 16 cases of rape. The report further states that one of the inmates stated that one girl was killed when she retaliated to the sexual harassment by the staff and she was buried in the premises. Reportedly, the sample of debris is to be sent for forensic test. 10 out of 11 accused have been arrested.

The inmates had narrated their ordeals in the social audit report prepared by TISS (Tata Institute of Social Sciences). The Social Welfare Department has filed the police complaint which has exposed the plight of the girls. A special investigation team has been formed to enquire into the matter.

National Human Rights Commission

 

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National Human Rights Commission: NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that the Government of Maharashtra in the State Assembly has informed that 639 farmers committed suicide in the State between March and May, 2018. The reported reasons were crop failure, debt and inability to repay bank loans.

The Commission has issued notices to the Secretary, Union Ministry of Agriculture and the Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra calling for the detailed reports in the matter, specifically mentioning the status of implementation of the schemes for the farmers and relief to the aggrieved families. The response is expected within four weeks. The Union Government is expected to inform the Commission, if they have any specific plan or mechanism in their mind to effectively address the situation.

The Commission has observed that it is not for the first time that such news has come to its notice. It has been receiving complaints regarding the deaths of farmers across the country, including the State of Maharashtra. It has also taken suo motu cognizance of such matters. Committing suicide by the farmers in such a large number is a serious matter as it involves the right to life of the victims. Their families also come under tremendous pressure due to sudden demise of an earning member.

It has further observed that in spite of announcement of several schemes including crop insurance and loan waiver by the Central and State Governments, the forlorn story of poor farmers generally remains the same. The farmers are still choosing to end their lives, understandably, if not being able to cope up with the stress, financial crunch and social stigma due to crop failure. There is a need for the Central and State Governments to see that the schemes announced by them are implemented in true spirit, to achieve the target so that such tragic deaths of the farmers could be averted.

According to the media report, carried on 15th July, 2018, a total 639 farmers had committed suicide in Maharashtra between March 1 and May 31, 2018. The information had been provided by the State Revenue Minister in the State Assembly in response to the questions of the opposition members. They had, reportedly, alleged that all the schemes of the government, including the loan waiver, compensation to farmers in case of loss of crops and minimum support price (MSP) for agricultural goods, had failed, due to which the cases of suicide by the farmers have increased.

The news reports further say that as claimed by the opposition, in the last four years, as many as 13,000 farmers had ended life, of which 1500 committed suicide in the last one year alone. The Revenue Minister had reportedly stated that according to the parameters set by the State Government in October last year for declaration of drought, 8 talukas of Yavatmal, Washim and Jalgaon Districts were declared affected by medium intensity drought in April this year and the compensation along with other assistance has been provided to the affected farmers, accordingly.

It is further mentioned that on 29th May, 2018, the Union Government made amendments in the rules for declaration of drought-hit areas, based on the suggestions made by the states and accordingly the state revenue and forest departments have made the changes on 28.6.2018. The Chief Minister of the State has reportedly stated that appropriate action will be taken to recover the mortgaged lands of the farmers from the respective lenders.

National Human Rights Commission

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National Human Rights Commission (NHRC): The NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that the network of editors and media practitioners, namely, SAMDEN has urged the NHRC to seeks swift probe into Shujaat Bukhari’s killing along with his two personal security officers in Lal Chowk area of Srinagar in Jammu & Kashmir on 14.06.2018. Reportedly, SAMDEN has also demanded swift action to be taken by the Central and the State Government for the necessary steps ensuring safety and security of all the journalists across the country.

As per news report, the deceased journalist had been under police protection since the year 2000. He was reportedly facing threats, being a rare voice of moderation and an advocate for peace and justice. Many other NGOs and human rights defenders have also raised their voice against the threats, attacks and murders carried out against the media persons.

The Commission has observed that in view of special provisions laid down under Section 1(2) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 in connection with the State of Jammu & Kashmir, it generally does not intervene into the matters relatable to entries enumerated in the List II (State List) mentioned under Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India. In such cases, it is for the State Human Rights Commission to take cognizance of the complaints regarding alleged violation of human rights in the State of Jammu & Kashmir.

However, it further observed that it is learnt that the State Human Rights Commission is closed for summer vacations till 30th June, 2018 and till date, cognizance of this case has not been taken by them. The way, Mr Shujaat Bukhari had been killed by the miscreants indicates that the media persons, even those who have been provided police protection by the State Government, are not safe in the valley. This is a case of violation of right to life of the victim and the incident is causing serious threat to free speech and freedom of press in the State.

Looking into the gravity of the matter, the Commission has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police of the State of Jammu & Kashmir calling for detailed report in the matter. The State Government is also expected to provide details of the attacks made on the media persons during last two years along with number of persons died/ injured and status of relief/ rehabilitation provided to the victims and their families. The Commission would also like to know as to what special measures have been taken by the State Government to stop such incidents in the State of Jammu & Kashmir. The response is expected within four weeks.

Besides this media report in the matter, a complaint from the Front Line Defenders, an NGO has been received which has been registered by the Commission. The formal letter from the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) is yet to be received by the Commission.

National Human Rights Commission

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National Human Rights Commission (NHRC): The NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that a boy, belonging to Dalit Community in Purulia, was mercilessly beaten till he died, allegedly, by the workers of the ruling Trinamool Congress Party in West Bengal. Later, his body was found hanging by a tree. Reportedly, a Poster was also found affixed on the back of the dead body with a message written in Bangla language- “18 bachhor bayose BJP rajneeti. Ebar bojh” which means, “BJP politics at the age of 18. Now take this.”

The Commission has observed that the contents of the news report, if true, amount to gross violation of human rights of the victim. Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of West Bengal calling for a detailed report in the matter The DGP, West Bengal has been asked to intimate the present status of investigation in the case and the steps taken to ensure that such incidents do not recur in future. They have been given four weeks to respond.

The Commission also observed that India is a democratic country. Difference of opinion and ideology are obvious in a multi-party democratic political system. Bloodshed in the name of political differences is neither desirable, nor acceptable in a civilized society. Brutal killings of the party workers in such a manner are indicative of deficient law and order situation in the state, which does not allow rival political parties to exercise their political rights. Right to life of the poor Dalit victim has been grossly violated, which is a glaring instance that law enforcing agencies have failed to protect the precious human life.

According to the media report, carried on the 31st May, 2018 that violence continues in Purulia even after the Panchayat elections are over. Several other local BJP leaders have been threatened after the BJP won many seats in the district. The father of the deceased has alleged that his son was killed by the workers of the Trinamool Congress. They had also threatened to kill him on the polling day. The BJP leaders have leveled allegations against the Trinamool Congress party stating that the deceased was killed just because his ideology differed from that of the State sponsored goons.

National Human Rights Commission

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National Human Rights Commission (NHRC): The NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that a 14 year old girl was detained at a police chowki and a police station in Noida for eight days. She was beaten, burnt with cigarettes and electrocuted there. Reportedly, the girl, a domestic help, was detained after her employer accused her of theft.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the media reports, if true, indicate cruelty of the police personnel for which the deserve exemplary punishment so that a message could be given that such inhuman acts by a public servant cannot be accepted at any cost. The law does not empower the police personnel to humiliate and harm the innocent citizens. Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh, calling for detailed report in the matter within 4 weeks. He is also expected to send the report about the steps taken for counselling/ rehabilitation of the victim.

According to the media report carried today on 31st May, 2018, the family members of the victim girl have stated that she was detained by the police on the 14th May, 2018, at Salarpur police Chowki, where she remained till 16th May, 2018. They were not allowed to meet her and she was released on the 16th May, 2018. The police again picked up the girl, the next day and this time her 17 year old brother was also taken into custody. Both of them were finally released in the night of the 22nd May, 2018, following the intervention by an NGO, Bachpan Bachao Andolan and an order from the Child Welfare Committee (CWC).

Reportedly, the CWC, on the 23rd May, 2018, also ordered a medical examination of the girl. The medico legal case report has revealed discoloured “brown-shaped circular discolorations” near her left and right wrists linking these to burnt marks. The report also mentions abrasions on the right forearm near the elbow and three discoloured abrasions on both wrists. The report specifically clarified that all injuries are more than 10 days old, caused by hard and blunt object.

The SHO of Police Station Sector-39, Noida has, reportedly, denied the allegations of illegal detention and torture. He has also claimed that the girl was not a minor. The MLC however, confirms that the girl is a minor. On a complaint filed by the NGO, the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has sought a report from the Senior Superintendent of Police, Noida through Noida District Legal Services Authority. As mentioned in the news report, the girl has alleged that the employer himself came to their house and demanded that she work as their domestic help and when she protested, he took away her on his scooter in front of the neighbours.

National Human Rights Commission

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National Human Rights Commission: The NHRC has decided to send its own team of officers for making a fact finding inquiry/ investigation into the incident of police firing in Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu on the 22nd May, 2018, causing the death of more than 11 protesters demanding closure of Sterlite Copper plant. The Commission has asked its Director General (Investigation) to depute a team headed by an officer not below the rank of Senior Superintendent of Police assisted by three more officers of the rank of Dy. SP and Inspectors from its Investigation Division.

The NHRC team would leave forthwith and examine all the concerned including family members of the victims and independent witnesses as it deems appropriate and submit a report to the Commission within two weeks.

The Commission has given this direction after considering the representation made by Mr. A Rajarajan under W.P. (C) 5779/2018 before the Delhi High Court and the orders of the Court passed on 25th May, 2018, inter alia directing as follows:

¢ According to the petitioner, the respondent/NHRC should consider the representation made by the petitioner and trigger an independent inquiry based on the provisions of Sections 14 & 17 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (in short ‘Act’).

¢ Having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case and, given the fact that the respondent/NHRC has called for reports, at this stage, the Court is inclined, only, to give liberty to the petitioner to appear before the respondent/NHRC for obtaining suitable directions.

¢ Accordingly, the aforementioned representation filed by the petitioner will be placed before the respondent/ NHRC on the 29th May, 2018, for appropriate directions.

¢ It is made clear that nothing stated hereinabove will impact the merits of the case.

The Commission has observed that its instant direction in the matter is independent of the directions already given by it to the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, Government of Tamil Nadu, vide its notices issued after taking suo motu cognizance of the incident on the basis of media reports on the 23rd May, 2018. They have been asked to submit detailed reports in the matter along with status of the treatment being provided to the persons who were injured in police firing within two weeks.

National Human Rights Commission

 

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National Human Rights Commission (NHRC): The NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media report that a 40 year old Dalit rag picker was beaten to death at Shapar village in Rajkot district on Sunday the 20th May, 2018, allegedly over the issue of collecting scraps in the area. Following a complaint lodged by the victim’s wife, police have registered an offence of murder and other charges against five unidentified persons under the IPC and Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the news report, if true, raise serious issue of violation of human rights of the victims. Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary to the Government of Gujarat calling for a report in the matter within four weeks along with measures taken for relief to the affected families.

According to the media report, carried on 21st May, 2018, the victim, a native of Parnala village of Surendranagar district of Gujarat, along with his wife and an acquaintance was picking rags around a factory in Shapar area. Five unidentified persons from the factory had an altercation with them and all three rag pickers were allegedly beaten up by them. After beating them, the women were sent back while the victim was held by the miscreants. When the women returned with some other persons, they found the victim on the ground. He was taken to the hospital, where doctors declared him brought dead. As reported, the Deputy Superintendent of Police of the area has stated that there are wounds on the body of the deceased which could have been caused by blunt objects like sticks. The probe in the matter has been reportedly initiated by the police authorities.

National Human Rights Commission

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National Human Rights Commission (NHRC): NHRC on May 11, has based on a media report, taken suo moto cognizance of the arrest and incarceration of two minor girls, aged 12 and 16 years. These girls, along with 7 other family members, some of whom are minors, were arrested from their home in Muzaffarnagar, UP in December 2017 on allegations of cow slaughter and attempt to murder. Though bail was granted against the latter charge, the lower court did not grant bail for alleged cow slaughter. They were finally released in April after spending over 3 months in prison.

The Commission observed that this arrest and incarceration on the basis of the girls’ physical appearance looking like that of an adult to the arresting officers, and the disregarding of documentary evidence in the form of Aadhaar cards which clearly showed that they were minors was a violation of the Juvenile Justice Act, which requires minors be sent to juvenile homes and produced before special Juvenile Boards. The girls, however, were produced before a regular court as adults. Section 10 of the JJ Act reads:

“10. Apprehension of child alleged to be in conflict with law.

1. As soon as a child alleged to be in conflict with law is apprehended by the police, such child shall be placed under the charge of the special juvenile police unit or the designated child welfare police officer, who shall produce the child before the Board without any loss of time but within a period of twenty-four hours of apprehending the child excluding the time necessary for the journey, from the place where such child was apprehended:

Provided that in no case, a child alleged to be in conflict with law shall be placed in a police lockup or lodged in a jail.”

The Commission said that if proved, this shall be a “gross violation of Human Rights”, and therefore issued a notice to the Chief Secretary and DGP of the Government of Uttar Pradesh and asked them to submit a report within 4 weeks.

National Human Rights Commission

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National Human Rights Commission: The NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports about the stamping of castes on the bare chests of aspiring constables from the reserved categories during their medical examination at the Dhar district hospital in Madhya Pradesh. Reportedly, the caste stamps were used to avoid any kind of confusion among candidates, as height and chest measurement norms are different for constables belonging to general and reserved categories. However, candidates from the general category were not labeled.

The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, Madhya Pradesh calling for a detailed report in the matter along with action taken against the delinquent officers, within four weeks.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the media reports, carried on the 30th April, 2018, if true, indicate discriminatory and derogatory treatment meted out to the candidates, belonging to the reserved categories. Such despicable act on the part of the authorities cannot be tolerated under any circumstances in a civilized society, as it is tantamount to violation of right to equality and dignity.

National Human Rights Commission

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National Human Rights Commission: The NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports about the alleged sexual exploitation of women in the Telugu Film Industry, raised by a Television Anchor turned actress of Telugu films. As per media reports, the actress has been questioning the State government and the Movie Artists’ Association (MAA) of the Telugu Film Industry on the absence of the Committee Against Sexual Harassment (CASH) due to which, she asserts that no female can represent and seek redressal of her grievances, if there is any sexual harassment at the work place.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the media reports, if true, tantamount to inaction of the part of the State government. The Commission is of the opinion that the reported prohibitions imposed upon the actress, barring her to act in the films and stopping others to work with her are violation of her right to livelihood and live a life with dignity.

Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Chief Secretary, Government of Telangana and the Secretary, Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks. The state authorities are expected to intimate about the available/proposed mechanism to the deal with the subject.

The Commission has also observed that reportedly, legal action against the actress has been taken under Section 294 IPC but it is nowhere mentioned, if action on the serious allegations of casting couch and sexual harassment, leveled by her, has been taken by the authorities. Therefore, it appears to be an attempt to muzzle the voice of whistle blower both from the sides of MAA and the State authorities.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 has broadly laid down provisions to prevent sexual harassment of women at work places. As laid down in the Act, “workplace” includes not only the government organisations/offices but also private ventures. Section 2(o)(ii) of the Act reads:

“any private sector organisation or a private venture, undertaking, enterprise, institution, establishment, society, trust, non-governmental organisation, unit or service provider carrying on commercial, professional, vocational, educational, entertainmental, industrial, health services or financial activities including production, supply, sale, distribution or service.”

Thus, the Commission observed, the issues raised by the actress demand action on part of the State government in the form of a committee to address and redress the grievances of the female actors and women employees, in case of any sexual harassment at the work place i.e. Telugu Film Industry, in this case.

Reportedly, the actress staged a semi-nude protest outside the Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce and an annoyed MAA not only dismissed her allegations but also declared that she will not be given its membership under any circumstances. The MAA, reportedly, has even moved further stating that action will be taken against any artist who decides to share screen space with her. The MAA who have filed a police complaint against the actress, have stated that action against her has been taken as per rules and they have the right to deny membership to her. The actress has been reportedly booked under Section 294 IPC (obscene act in a public place).

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National Human Rights Commission: The NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report stating that a television journalist, who had complained about threats to his life after he carried a sting operation on illegal sand mining, was mowed down by a truck in Bhind district of Madhya Pradesh on the 26th March, 2018. The deceased, was talking on his phone in front of a police station, when the incident occurred. The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, Madhya Pradesh calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the news report if true, indicate towards negligence on the part of administration, especially the police authorities who failed to save a precious human life. The tragic death of the journalist is indicative of violation of human rights as well as democratic values and also callousness of the state administration for not taking appropriate steps protecting the life and safety of the deceased, when reportedly, he had already complaint about the threats to his life. The Commission also noted that it did not receive any such complaint as mentioned in the news report.

The Commission further observed that the death of a journalist, who had reportedly exposed certain unlawful and unauthorized activities, was doing his duty and his death is a matter of concern for it. India is a democratic country and the democracy cannot thrive without Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression. Freedom of Speech and Expression is one of the six freedoms, recognized under Article 19 of the Constitution of India. The Press is considered to be the fourth pillar of the democracy.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

According to the media reports, carried today on 27th March, 2018, Sandeep Sharma, the victim working for a local TV channel had expressed apprehension that he could be killed by the sand mafia. Shri Vikas Purohit, nephew of the deceased journalist has made a complaint to the police authorities alleging that his uncle had been facing threat to his life because of the recent sting operation; he had carried out on the sand mafia. He has also mentioned that several authorities, including the Human Rights Commission were informed by the deceased, requesting for his security.

Reportedly, the journalist had to record his statement against one SDPO and was being threatened by some unidentified people. The Superintendent of Police, Bhind has reportedly stated that the application given by the deceased was being examined. It is further mentioned by the Superintendent of Police that a Special Investigation Team has been formed to probe into the matter.

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National Human Rights Commission: The NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports about the mysterious death of the father of a rape victim who was in custody at a jail in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh. The incident was reported to have happened a day after the alleged rape victim tried to immolate herself near the Chief Minister’s residence accusing a BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar and his aides of gang rape. The girl’s father was in judicial custody after his arrest for a brawl with the MLA’s supporters last week. The daughter of the deceased has, reportedly, alleged that it is only the delinquent MLA who has got her father killed since she was not willing to withdraw the gang rape complaint against him.

The Commission has observed that the allegations, if true, raise serious issue of violation of human rights of the victim family. It has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh calling for a detailed report in the matter, including action taken against the delinquent police officials, who refused to register an FIR. The Commission also expects from the DGP, an explanation for not communicating the custodial death to the Commission within 24 hours. All the reports, including health screening report of the deceased at the time of his admission in the jail and medical treatment provided by the jail authorities, are to be sent. They have been given four weeks to respond.

The Commission has also directed the Chief Secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh to look into the matter personally and ensure that the aggrieved family is not subjected to further harassment and humiliation by the opponents who appear to be resourceful persons of the locality. He is also directed to monitor and expedite the magisterial inquiry which is underway.

According to the media reports carried today on the 10th April, 2018 some miscreants forcefully entered into the house of the Devender and thrashed him brutally in front of his family members 3rd April, 2018. The family approached the Makhi police station to lodge an FIR against the younger brother of the BJP MLA and his aides. It was mentioned in their complaint that the brother of the MLA led the group and asked his accomplices to attack the family. The FIR has been reportedly lodged but it, allegedly, does not mention the name of the brother of the BJP MLA. On the other hand, the police booked Devender u/s 323, 504, 506 IPC and also added sections of the Arms Act against him. He was arrested and remanded to judicial custody for 14 days. The police, as mentioned in the news report, argued that the accused was a listed criminal. After medical examination of Devender he was sent to prison at 7.30 pm on 4th April, 2018. According to the media reports, on 8th April, 2018, in the evening, Devender complained of stomach ache and the next day he died in the hospital at around 3.30 am.

The daughter of the deceased, who has leveled allegation of rape against the MLA and his associates, has, reportedly, stated that since Unnao police had refused to act against the MLA, his brother and accomplices, they were forced to move the Court to get an FIR registered. She has also alleged that the MLA had threatened to get the entire family killed. As per news report, she had met the Chief Minister on 17th August, 2017, to raise her grievance and she was assured help but in spite of that this is what has happened in the end.

According to the media reports, the doctors, who examined the deceased after he spent two days in police custody, noted 19 injury marks. The news report also states that he was taken to hospital only when his condition deteriorated.

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National Human Rights Commission: The NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports about the incidents of papers leak of Class X and XII board examinations being conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). Reportedly, two cases have been registered on charges of criminal breach of trust, cheating and criminal conspiracy and some arrests have been made.
The Commission has observed that prima facie, it seems the concerned authorities have failed to keep the faith of the students, intact. The humiliation being faced by the innocent students is amounting to violation of their Rights to Dignity and Education. Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Secretary, Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, the Chairperson, Central Board of Secondary Education and the Commissioner of Police, Delhi calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development is also expected to inform the Commission about the steps taken regarding counselling of the aggrieved students and to make the process of conducting board examinations trustworthy and foolproof to avoid recurrence of such painful incidents in future.
The Commission has further observed that such instances would adversely affect the credibility of the institutions in which the students have absolute faith. The students have been undergoing trauma engulfed with helplessness, heart break and mental agony during examinations days. The parents and the teachers try their best to counsel and motivate the students to remain calm and confident these days. Several government and non-government agencies including the media also contribute to impart ancillary support to the students to deal with the anxiety, attached to the board examinations. In spite of all the best efforts made by every stake holder, if the preparations done by the students go in vain due to such demoralizing and unexpected incidents like paper leak, it would definitely shatter the enthusiasm of the young aspiring students.
According to the media reports, six students were detained by the police in Jharkhand’s Chatra district and the Crime Branch of Delhi police has also been cracking down. Several persons including administrators of some WhatsApp groups, coaching centre’s owners and tutors were questioned about the leak and as per recent media reports, three teachers have been arrested and an official of the CBSE has been placed under suspension.
Reportedly, the CBSE authorities have announced that the examinations for Class XII pertaining to the subjects in which papers were leaked, will be conducted again on 25 April, 2018. With regard to re-examination of Mathematics paper of Class X, it is informed that the decision will be taken in next 15 days. It is also reported by some newspapers that as the Class X paper leak was restricted to Delhi-NCR and Haryana, the re-test will take place in these regions only in the month of July, 2018. As stated by the CBSE authorities, the decision has been taken in the interest of the children and an inquiry into the leak is underway. The matter is being investigated into by the police and an intra departmental probe is also being conducted.

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National Human Rights Commission: The NHRC has taken suo-motu cognizance of media reports alleging failure of the law enforcing agencies in protecting the right to life, liberty and dignity of the innocent people, who have become victims of violence in the Asansol-Raniganj area of West Bengal since the 25th March, 2018. Many people have been forced to leave their houses. Several people have died; a police officer has also sustained grievous injuries in the violence and the situation is reported to be still out of control.

Expressing serious concern over the situation, the Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary, Home Secretary and Director General of Police, West Bengal calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks.

The Commission has also asked its Director General (Investigation) to depute a team headed by an officer not below the rank of SSP to visit the disturbed areas of Asansol-Raniganj for spot investigation/inquiry to assess the actual situation and submit a report within three weeks.

According to the media reports, the people, who dialed No. 100 to seek police assistance, have stated that no police personnel came to help them. The unruly mob has destroyed the public and private properties. There are many families from different communities, as mentioned in the news report, who have lost everything in the ongoing violence. It is also stated in the news reports that according to many victims, the police just stood there for a while and then vanished when the crowd attacked the victims. Apart from this, people suffering from illness and pregnant ladies are the worst victims in the affected area.

However, reportedly, the Commissioner of Police of Asansol has stated that the situation is under control and loud speakers are being used to spread awareness against the rumours and in the sensitive areas, large number of police personnel have been deployed.

National Human Rights Commission