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Editorial : human rights violations
Herby , HRW urges for urgent interventions from the authorities , to put an end to following cases of human rights violations . jai hind . vande mataram .
AN APPEAL TO HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE OF CALCUTTA HIGH COURT WEST BENGAL INDIA
Dear Sir ,
INDIA: Human rights activist arrested for writing down judge’s name
Name and address of the victim:
Mr. Mr. Gopen Chandra Sharma s/o Late Gopal Chandra Sharma, Dayarampur village, Murshidabad district, West Bengal state
The 2nd Fast Track Judge, Baharampur, Murshidabad district, West Bengal
I am writing to you to express my concern about the conduct of the 2nd Fast Track Judge, Baharampur, Murshidabad district, West Bengal. I am informed that the presiding officer of this court had ordered the arrest of Mr. Gopen Sharma, a human rights activist for writing down the name of the presiding officer.
I am informed that Gopen was asked by the judge why he took down his name for which Gopen answered and that the judge not being pleased with his reply ordered Gopen’s arrest. Gopen was detained at the Beharampore Police Station from where he was released after furnishing a personal security bond. I am informed that Gopen’s arrest and short detention is in violation of all procedural mandates required to be followed by law.
I am informed that Gopen was not informed the reason why he was arrested, the crime for which is detained and the place where he will be detained. I am also informed that Gopen was also not provided with an arrest memo.
I wish to express my concern regarding the fact that in this case the court itself was responsible for an innocent person’s arrest. I am also concerned to know that the court being a place which people look up to seeking redress for their grievances, has acted in a manner as if to silence human rights activists. Such an action by the court exposes the judicial officer’s willful ignorance of procedural mandates and the officer’s lack of respect for his own office.
I therefore request you to take immediate actions so that the concerned officer, the 2nd Fast Track Judge, Baharampur, Murshidabad district is asked to explain why he ordered the arrest of Mr. Gopen Sharma. I also request your office to record the statement of Mr. Gopen Sharma in the process and to take appropriate action against the presiding officer, if the officer is found guilty of breach of law and procedure.
I also request you to make necessary arrangements so that Gopen Sharma receives compensation for his illegal arrest and detention and that the case registered against him is quashed.
AN APPEAL TO HONOURABLE CHIEF MINISTER , ANDHRA PRADESH , INDIA
Dear Sir ,
INDIA: Abduction and disappearance of two students in Andhra Pradesh
Name and address of the victims:
1. Mr. Vadae Manohar, son of Thimmanna, resident of Kalvala village, Narya Mandla, Mahabubnagar district, Andhra Pradesh
2. Mr. Bandaaru Mallesh, son of Ms. Anantamma, Maktal Mandal, Mahabubnagar district, Andhra Pradesh
[both are students of the Osmania University]
1. Police officers stationed at Muktal Police Station, Andhra Pradesh during March 2006
I am writing to you to express my concern about the case of abduction and disappearance of two students of the Osmania University from Mahabubnagar. I am informed that the students, Mr. Vadae Manohar and Mr. Bandaaru Mallesh were surrendered by their parents at the Muktal Police Station by their parents in connection with the investigation into the murder case of Mr. Narsi Reddy.
It is alleged that the students were detained illegally in custody for the next eight days and that their parents had to file a writ petition for the police to produce the students in court. The court though refused bail to the students kept them in custody for about four months. Finally when the court decided to release them the Muktal police threatened their parents that if their children were released on bail they would murder them.
I am informed that the parents did release Manohar and Mallesh from custody through the Narayana Pet court on 5 March 2006. I am also informed that on their way home from the court Manohar and Mallesh along with their parents were stopped at Mahabubnagar by some unidentified armed men and were blindfolded and taken to near a forest. It is alleged that the parents were only set free while the whereabouts of Manohar and Mallesh is not known since then.
I am concerned to know that the parents were threatened by the police the night before their children were released and that their children on their way from the court were kidnapped as threatened by the local police. I am also informed that the parents suspect the Muktal police for the disappearance of their children. I am also informed that the parents had approached the High Court and that the court has asked the local police to report to the court every month the progress of the investigation into the case. I am also informed that the parents are not satisfied with the investigation into the case.
I therefore urge you to intervene into this case so that the conduct of the Muktal police is thoroughly investigated and the whereabouts of the missing children are reported to the court at the earliest.
AN APPEAL TO HONOURABLE CHIEF MINISTER WEST BENGAL INDIA
Dear sir ,
INDIA: Harassment and assault of a couple by the local police in West Bengal
Name and address of the victims:
1. Mr. Manoj Shaw, son of late Harihar Shaw
2. Ms. Arpita Shaw, wife of Mr. Manoj Shaw
[both are residing at 2/4, Khagendra Chatterjee Road, Cossipore post, under the jurisdiction of Chitpore police station, Kolkata 700002]
1. Mr. G. Mukharjee, Sub Inspector of Police
2. Mr. N. C. Roy, the Officer in Charge
3. The driver of Chitpore Police Station van
[all stationed at Chitpore Police Station, Kolkata]
4. Mr. Dilip Prasad
5. Mr. Jitendra Prasad
6. Mr. Dilip Sukia
7. Mr. Arjun
8. Mr. Mohammad Ejaj
[the persons who abused and assaulted Manoj on 31 May 2007]
9. The Duty Medical Officer serving at the R. G. Kar Medical College & Hospital, Kolkata on 31 May 2007
I am writing to you to express my concern about the case of assault and abuse of a couple by the local police stationed at Chitpore Police Station, Kolkata on 31 May 2007. I am informed that the first victim, Mr. Manoj, intervened when his mother Ms. Josodha was abused by some persons named 4 to 8 above. I am informed that these persons attacked Manoj and assaulted him against which Manoj went to the Chitpore Police Station on 31 May 2007 to lodge a complaint with his mother.
I am concerned to note that the police officers present at the station refused to register the complaint but assaulted and insulted Manoj and put him in the police lockup. I am also informed that Manoj’s wife, Arpita, who came to the police station, was also insulted and assaulted by the police officers. I am also informed that the duty medical officer at the R. G. Kar Medical College & Hospital who was consulted by Arpita to treat her injuries refused to record the real reason for the assault and the injuries. I am also informed that the police have now charged Manoj with a false case in which Manoj first bailed out from the police station and later from the Sealdah Criminal Court.
I am informed that the senior police officers had already intervened in this case, but it is suspected that the investigation of the case, particularly the complaint of the victims, is not carried out impartially. I am concerned to know that the police officers are now trying to get rid of the case in a manner that will not harm the officers who assaulted and abused the husband and wife. I am also concerned to know that the persons who abused and assaulted Manoj and his mother against which Manoj went to the police station to lodge a complaint are not yet arrested by the police.
I suspect that the police are paying foul in this case by being bribed by the person who is engaged in illegal construction near Manoj’s house. I am also worried about the attitude of the medical officers who refuse to record properly the cause of injury in medical certificates.
I therefore urge you to take immediate action in this case. I urge you to order an independent inquiry into the case so that the entire incident is investigated into by an independent police officer. I request you to make sure that the police officers stationed at Chitpore Police Station, particularly the Sub Inspector of Police Mr. G. Mukharjee, is immediately suspended from service, pending the investigation of this case.
AN APPEAL TO HONOURABLE CHIEF MINISTER ANDHRA PRADESH INDIA
Dear sir ,
INDIA: Mysterious death of a person not investigated at all by the by the Andhra Pradesh state police
Name and address of the victim: Mr. Palli Subrahmaniam, aged about 30 years, son of Mr. Sahib, Gogivaripeta, Kothepet Mandal, East Godawari District, Andhra Pradesh
1. Mr. Vanapalli Rama Krishna
2. Mr. Narayanamurthy
3. Mr. Sathi Suryanarayana Reddi
[All are accused in crime 19/2007 registered by the Ravulapalem Police Station]
I am writing to you to express my concern about the lack of proper investigation in crime 19/2007 of Ravulapalem Police Station registered in connection with the death of the victim named above. I am informed that the case which first got registered as one of unnatural death, after the completion of the postmortem examination and due to pressure for investigation by the local people was converted into that of murder of a Scheduled Caste person.
I am informed that the reason why the local police is refusing to investigate the case is because of the influence of Circle Inspector of Police Mr. Vanapalli Subrahmaniam the son of one of the accused in the case, Mr. Vanapalli Ramakrishna. It is alleged that this officer is now stationed in West Godawari district.
I am informed that the local people as well as the family of the victim is not satisfied with the progress of the investigation of the case and that there are enough and more reasons to suspect the accused for being involved with the death of the victim.
I therefore urge you to take immediate action in this case so that the case is investigated outside the influence of corrupt and nepotic police officers and that the accused are brought to justice without any further delay.
Sincerely your’s ,
An Open Letter to the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court
Mr. Justice Surinder Singh Nijjar
The Honourable Chief Justice
Calcutta High Court
Kolkata, West Bengal
Tel: + 91 33 224 837 87
Fax: + 91 33 224 291 58
Dear Justice Surinder Singh Nijjar:
INDIA: Conduct of the Registrar of your High Court
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is a regional non-governmental organisation based in Hong Kong. I hope you will recall several of our earlier letters addressed to your office requesting urgent actions on cases of human rights violation reported from West Bengal.
On June 13, 2007 the AHRC was informed about the arrest and detention of a human rights activist on the previous day in Baharampur. We were informed that Mr. Gopen SHARMA, a human rights activist working with a local human rights group MASUM, with its office in Howrah, was ordered to be arrested by the presiding officer of the 2nd Fast Track Court, Baharampur. An urgent appeal by the AHRC requesting your urgent attention to the matter has been sent to you by the AHRC’s Urgent Appeals Programme today.
In this connection a staff of the AHRC contacted the High Court Registrar’s office in the number + 91 33 221 393 06. The person who answered the call identified himself as the Registrar of the court. The call was made to obtain the official fax number of the Calcutta High Court to verify to which number the fax concerning Mr. Sharma’s case should be send. The Registrar however refused to give the fax number. When the AHRC’s staff requested for the reason why the fax number could not be provided, the Registrar raised his voice over the telephone and shouted that he cannot give the fax number of the court without the prior permission from your office. The Registrar also refused to reveal his name.
The AHRC’s staff further tried to reason with the Registrar explaining to him the difficulty in understanding why important information concerning the court, which should be available on the public domain, cannot be provided by the Registrar’s office. The Registrar at this point shouted at our staff asking what right a stranger has to talk to him and that he need not be educated about the formalities of the court and the law and hung up the telephone.
The AHRC while appreciating the efforts and initiatives taken by the Indian judiciary to address the public’s concerns however fails to understand the attitude of a senior judge of the lower judiciary, now serving as the Registrar of your High Court in accommodating requests for information.
The official fax number the Calcutta High Court which the Registrar refused to provide is available in the telephone directory printed and circulated by the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited.
The AHRC is aware that the Registrar of the High Court has the following duties:
a) To be the custodian of court records
b) To prepare lists of cases – pending and disposed – by the court
c) To accept and forward to the appropriate bench appeals, complaints, writs and other matters addressed to the court
d) To liaise with the lawyers and other litigants who seek the service of the court
In the light of the above duties of the Registrar and in the context of the AHRC’s own experience we wish to express the following concerns:
1. Does the Registrar of your High Court require express permission from your office to provide the fax number of the court to the public?
2. Does the public have a right to know the official fax number of the court?
3. If the official fax number of the Calcutta High Court is also for the ordinary public to communicate to the court why did the Registrar refuse to disclose this number?
4. The AHRC understands that the Registrar of the High Court is a judge from the lower judiciary and his official duty also involves functioning as a communication link between the higher judiciary and the ordinary people. Learning from the AHRC’s experience, from now on, how should any person who wishes to communicate to the Calcutta High Court approach the court?
5. Since there is no information provided at the website of the High Court, if there is a complaint regarding the Registrar or any other judge in your jurisdiction how can such a complaint be send to the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court for the judge’s information and appropriate action.
The National Human Rights Commission of India is confused about its mandate by AHRC
The statements made by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India at the 5th United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions appeared as if the NHRC is confused about its own mandate. The NHRC is a human rights monitoring institution constituted by an Act of Parliament, `The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993′. The NHRC need not look elsewhere to identify its role as a national institution in India.
Section 12 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 empowers the NHRC to enquire into instances of human rights violation in India. The Act also provides the NHRC with legal mandates to investigate and study human rights issues within and outside India. Nowhere in this law is it required that the NHRC to be a blind cheer group for the government. What the law has fallen short of, the NHRC has accomplished through its intervention at the Council sessions.
What else does it mean when the NHRC made interventions at the Council like “…It is a misnomer that the NHRI are only recommendatory bodies … interim relief to a tune of 100,000,000 Indian rupees has been recommended and also distributed to the victims or next of kin as the case may be … it has been categorically clarified by [the] Permanent Mission of India [that] technically caste discrimination does not come under racism. NHRC (India) while endorsing the interpretation… “
In the light of the above statements the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) has doubts regarding the conviction of the NHRC of the role that it need to play in international meetings like those held at the United Nations. The ALRC is certain that the role of institutions like the NHRC is definitely not to make exaggerated claims or support false statements made the Government of India.
The Government of India had spared no possibilities thus far to showcase its domestic mechanisms, including the NHRC, to claim that there are enough venues in India to address concerns of human rights violations. These claims are part of the government’s continuing strategy to avoid embarrassment in international meetings whenever the human rights situation in India is examined or debated. But for the government’s false claims the fact is the access to domestic legal mechanisms in India is limited to a select few with the financial capacity and influence to use these mechanisms. This privileged community in India is less than twenty percent of India‘s population. The justice mechanisms within India are notorious for their failure to provide reasonable remedies within acceptable span of time.
It is in this context the interventions made by the NHRC during the UNHRC sessions are relevant. For an observer who is aware about the state of human rights in India, the interventions made by the NHRC are a farce.
Reflecting upon the statements made by the NHRC during the Council sessions, it is true that compensation to victims was awarded by the NHRC. But to claim that the compensation awarded by the NHRC was in fact paid by the government to all the victims is nothing but mendacious. Even the quantum of compensation awarded by the NHRC is questionable. For example in a series of cases recently adjudicated by the NHRC regarding the mass execution of persons in Punjab, the compensation awarded was only 250,000 Indian rupees [5680 USD] per individual. Of similar footing are the other two statements made by the NHRC regarding its recommendatory jurisdiction and caste based discrimination and racism.
The NHRC’s annual reports are indeed placed in the Parliament. The NHRC also often calls for an Action Taken Report (ATR) from the governments. It would be naive however for the NHRC if it is satisfied by the false and thus questionable ATRs submitted by the government. If these reports made by the governments are true there should have been a considerable reduction of cases of human rights violations reported from India after the constitution of the NHRC. Various reports submitted by local, regional and international human rights groups speak however the opposite. Additionally, the reports prepared by experts who hold special procedure mandates of the United Nations like the Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living and the Rapporteur on the right to food also express similar concerns.
If all what the NHRC claims by `enforcing compliance’ is placing a report before the parliament and calling for an ATR, it would have been better for the NHRC to limit its statement there and not try to give a false impression that these procedures are taken seriously by the government. Had it been so the NHRC would not have been chocked without appropriate paraphernalia for its day to day function. For example in spite of several requests by the NHRC, the Government of India is yet to provide enough resources for the NHRC’s investigative branch. As of today the NHRC depends upon the respective state police to investigate cases — the pitiful state of a national institution which is forced to depend upon the parties to a dispute to investigate the facts regarding the same dispute.
By endorsing the Government of India‘s view on caste based discrimination as `just another form of discrimination’ the NHRC has publicly stated that caste based discrimination disserves no serious consideration in India. This means that the NHRC has failed to appreciate the seriousness of caste based discrimination and the plight of millions of Indians. Caste based discrimination is one of the worst forms of discrimination in human history.
For years, the unsuccessful attempt by the Government of India was to dilute the seriousness in dealing with caste based discrimination. The manifest forms of this condemnable strategy are reflected in the Government of India‘s reports to agencies like the United Nations and its Treaty Bodies. One of the results of this malicious intent is the unabated practice of manual scavenging in India. By avoiding to admit that caste based discrimination is a form of racial discrimination, the attempt by the Government of India is to take away its treaty liability under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and thus to continue the practice of caste based discrimination in India.
The statutory mandate of the NHRC under Section 12 (f) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 is to `study treaties and other international instruments on human rights and make recommendations for their effective implementation’. By endorsing the government’s view that caste based discrimination is not racial discrimination, the NHRC has demonstrated that it has failed to understand the development in international law and has failed to fulfil its mandate. By this it appears that the NHRC is wilfully trivializing the development of international law and jurisprudence. This by no means is a positive approach by a national institution, but a big leap backwards crushing the expectations of millions of Dalits inside and outside India.
The role of the NHRC is to be a human rights monitoring agency in India. Being a national institution, the role of the NHRC is important in international forums. The NHRC must be a body that critically analyse the human rights situation in the country. It is only through such a process the NHRC can contribute towards the betterment of human rights in India. It is neither a court, nor a mouthpiece for the government. The NHRC must be an independent, credible and active institution that looks forward to addressing the deeper issues concerning human rights in India.
The effectiveness of the NHRC is to be reflected in the contribution made by the NHRC in improving the human rights situation in India. It is for the civil society and the persons who seek the assistance of the NHRC to say whether the NHRC is meeting its mandate. By reducing itself to a position of a blind supporter for the government, the NHRC has tainted its credibility.
By failing to make use of a forum like the UNHRC, the NHRC has lost an opportunity to pressure the government of India, in meeting the recommendations and demands placed by the NHRC. At least this would have ensured that the NHRC has enough paraphernalia to function as expected. Sadly, instead of this, the NHRC of India as of today has compromised its independency and has proved itself that it is utterly confused about its role as a national institution. The NHRC of India is today a failing model for similar institutions in the region to follow.
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