Even as Madhya Pradesh witnesses a range of human rights violation, the constitutional rights watchdog in the state—the Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission (MPHRC)—continues to remain headless.
Three out of four major judicial posts on the commission including that of the chairperson, judicial member and deputy secretary of legal matters are vacant. The post of the chairman has been lying vacant for the last four years since August 2010.
The state rights body's acting chairman and judicial member AK Saxena completed his tenure in July this year. The deputy secretary of legal matters Kuldeep Jain's deputation to the commission was revoked by the Madhya Pradesh High Court in April this year.
Not only this, the investigation wing of the commission is also facing a staff crunch with the posts of two deputy superintendents of police and three inspectors remaining vacant, sources said.
Given fact that the commission on an average handles some 13,000 odd complaints of rights violations from across state every year, the situation does not augur well for anyone, experts feel.
"Democracy and rule of law is being subverted in Madhya Pradesh," former chairman of Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission (MPHRC) Justice Gulab Gupta told HT Saturday.
"Turning a body like the human rights commission defunct is extremely harmful for the society." The government should immediately fill up the posts with suitable persons to ensure that the rights of the citizens are protected, said Justice Gupta.
"No such effort is visible on the part of the government," he said. Former judicial member and acting chairman Justice RD Shukla said it was the constitutional obligation of the state to protect human rights of the people and its duty to ensure that the human rights commission functioned in its full strength.
"It is imperative that the constitutional rights of the citizens are upheld," he said. The MPHRC has organisational provision for a chairman and two members —a judicial and a non-judicial.
According to norms, the chairman should either be a retired chief justice of the high court or retired judge of Supreme Court. The judicial member should be a retired district judge or a judge of the high court.
After former chairman of the commission Justice DM Dharmadhikari retired in August 2010; the state government has failed to find a suitable replacement. Judicial member AK Saxena was made acting chairman, but he too completed term in July this year.
Currently, the lone non-judicial member VM Kanwar, a retired IPS officer, has been authorised by the government to function as chairman, a move that has not gone well with experts.
The NHRC chairman met the chief minister on Thursday to discuss the matter. He had addressed the media on Friday. Minister of state for general administration department (GAD) Lal Singh Arya said the process of filling up posts in MPHRC was underway.
"But it is not very easy. Not everyone can be appointed for the posts," he said, adding that efforts would be made to expedite the process. The GAD is the nodal department for the state rights commission.