National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairperson K.G. Balakrishnan on Monday said the verdict on the Bhopal gas tragedy had come too late.
The former chief justice of India, who took over as the commission’s chairman, however, refused to comment on the quantum of punishment. “The verdict on the Bhopal gas tragedy has come late,” he said.
On the question of punishment meted out to the accused, he added: “I can’t comment on the quantum of punishment. Inadequacy of a sentence is a ground for appeal and the aggrieved parties can appeal on the same ground.”
He said the “positive fallout” of the gas tragedy was that the Environment Protection Act became active after the incident. The new NHRC chief said several hospitals were still functioning to treat the victims of the gas leak.
The former CJI spoke at length on the growing violence by the Maoists and added it was not a “simple issue”. While speaking to mediapersons on the first day of his office, Justice Balakrishnan said that “due consideration” should also be given to rights of security personnel engaged in fighting the menace.
“Members of police force, enforcement agencies are also human beings. Their life is also precious. Just like ordinary persons, they also have to be given due consideration. A large number of security persons are dying,” he added.
When asked about the human rights of the police personnel involved in fighting the Maoists, the former CJI said: “Tribals, locals, those who are residing in the locality, are denied education, basic amenities like access of hospitals and roads. Its not a simple issue but a very complex one.”
The NHRC chief refused to answer on the recent spate of honour killings by the khap panchayats. He simply said: “Killing is a killing.”
He refuted the suggestion that NHRC was a toothless organisation.