By Francis Khongwar
Shillong ( Meghalaya), Dec 15 : The National Human Rights Commission concluded its two -day, ‘Open Hearing and Camp Sitting here today, December 15 recommending payment of Rs. 15 lakh as relief in different cases of violation of human rights of people belonging to different categories in the States of Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.
During the hearing of 19 cases, the State Governments’ officers informed that they have already paid Rs.10.54 lakhs as per the recommendations of the Commission in some cases to the victims and the remaining Rs.46,000/- is being disbursed soon and the proof of payment will be sent to the NHRC.
In all, 19 cases, related to the States of Meghalaya (06), Mizoram (03) and Tripura (10), were heard in the ‘Open Hearing’ by the Full Bench of the Commission, presided over by the Member of the National Human Rights Commission, Justice M.M.Kumar, Dr. D.M. Mulay and Rajiv Jain, Members of the Commission.NHRC Secretary General-Bimbadhar Pradhan, Director General (Investigation) – Santosh Mehra, Registrar (Law) – Surajit Dey, Joint Secretary – Harish Chandra Chaudhary and other senior officers and staff of the Commission, as well as officers of the State of all the three States and complainants were present. S.S.Dey, Advocate General, Tripura, was also present, representing the State.
The matters heard in the ‘Open Hearing’ included non-receipt of the report cases; show cause notice cases; and compliance cases. Two cases pertaining to deaths of labourers in illegal mines in Meghalaya were also heard. One of the cases related to the forcible eviction of tribal people living in the forest area in Tripura was also heard. One case of death in judicial custody in West Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya .
In the case of non-distribution of food through PDS to Chakma people, the Commission has asked the Secretary, Mizoram State Legal Services Authority, to verify the version of the State authorities. In the case of rape of a minor girl by a para-military personnel in the State of Tripura, the Commission has recommended an amount of Rs.7,00,000/- to be paid to the victim. The Commission, while appreciating the generosity of the Advocate General of Tripura, has also asked the State to ensure proper medical care and treatment to a handicapped person. The Commission has also asked the State of Meghalaya to submit proof of payment of Rs.3,00,000/- in a case of encounter death and to the State of Mizoram for payment of an amount of Rs.5,00,000/- in a case of police custody.
A meeting of the Commission with Chief Secretaries, DGs of Police & their representatives, and other senior officers of all the three States was also held in the afternoon on Dec 14 .
Earlier, inaugurating the 41st ‘Open Hearing and Camp Sitting’, Justice M. M. Kumar, Member NHRC said that the Public Hearings at regular periods provide platform for speedy justice to the citizens of India, especially SCS/STS and other vulnerable classes of the society. Complainants and officials come at one place for speedy justice and succor to the victims. He further said that the Human Rights Defenders (HRDS) and from the civil society are crucial for protection of human rights and they should be given due participation in the process of protection and promotion of the human rights of the people.
The Secretary General, NHRC, while opening the discussions, informed that the NHRC is extensively using the HRCNet Portal for ensuring easy and quick submission of reports. He, while highlighting the States’ specific issues, emphasized on the need for Action Taken Reports (ATRS) from all the three State Governments on 22 advisories issued by the Commission.
Justice M.M.Kumar, while addressing the officers of the States emphasized on the issues relating to the right to health, right to food, rights of the prisoners, and the persons suffering from mental illness. He also: mentioned the issues relating to the conditions of the inmates staying in homes for widows and elderly persons.
Rajiv Jain, Member called upon the officers for expeditious submission of the requisite reports and asked them to file the reports in the prescribed proforma in cases related to deaths in custody in particular the Post Mortem Examination Reports.
Ms. R.V. Suchiang, IAS, Chief Secretary, Meghalaya, stated that in some of the advisories, they have already submitted ATRS and in the remaining, they will send the ATRS in due course of time. As regards the case of illegal mining, steps are being taken to prevent the same in coordination with various concerned agencies. She also assured submission of Post Mortem Examination Reports and other reports in the prescribed format as per the guidelines of the Commission.
David H. Lalthangliana, OSD, Home Department, Govt of Mizoram, submitted that the suggestions and advices of the Commission will be taken care of by the State for promoting and protecting the rights of the people of the State.
Lalminga Darlong, IPS, DIG (NR) Tripura, submitted that they have submitted Action Taken Reports in eight of the advisories of the Commission and assured that ATR in the remaining advisories would be submitted shortly.
The Commission also held a discussion with NGOs, HRDs and members of the Civil Society, during their interactions on Dec 15 who raised issues of healthcare, SCS and STs, women, elderly and children. The Commission reiterated that the NGOs are actually eyes and ear of the Commission and they are true partners of the Commission in spreading awareness regarding promotion and protection of human rights.
Speaking to the media at the end of the two-day NHRC “Open Hearing and Camp Sitting, the member of National Human Rights Commission, Justice Mahesh Mittal Kumar today lauded the role of NGOs in Meghalaya, which are so vibrant and fully aware of the problems faced by people in the state. Justice Mittal informed that the NGO have apprised the members of the National Human Rights Commission of the poor health delivery system and violation of human rights. Justice Mittal said the Commission is aware that the state is having hospitals and health facilities, but there is shortage of manpower. He also informed the state Government’s view, there is no person who is without food, but the NGO still complaining that some people are not getting ration and when rice is given, the sugar and atta are not available. Justice Mittal said the people come forward and present all these problems in writing so that the Commission can take up with the authorities. Justice Mittal also said the media can play a vital role in spreading awareness among the people about the state and Central Health schemes so that the people can benefit from them.
On the other hand, the Secretary General of National Human Rights Commission, Bimbadhar Pradhan said “if anyone who feels that there is police atrocity of taking a person’s life, you should bring to the notice of the Commission with concrete example”, Pradhan said, adding that people should not ask the Commission to do which is not under its jurisdiction. He also said due to the Commission’s intervention, custodial deaths have been awarded with compensation and erring police authorities have been demoted and some of them have been dismissed from service on the basis of conviction.