?MPHRC has not been able to reach tribals?
There is growing international pressure on Indian Government to strengthen agencies dealing with human right abuses. With growing impact of international laws on Indian judiciary, the country is exploring new concepts to emerge as a leading human rights activist.india Updated: May 08, 2006 13:56 IST
There is growing international pressure on Indian Government to strengthen agencies dealing with human right abuses. With growing impact of international laws on Indian judiciary, the country is exploring new concepts to emerge as a leading human rights activist.
Padma Shastri spoke to former Supreme Court judge and MP Human Rights Commission (MPHRC) Chairman Justice D M Dharmadhikari on prospects of human right courts during his visit to the City on Sunday. Excerpts
The Central Government has issued notification for setting up Human Rights Courts in the State and Indore’s sessions court has been identified for the purpose. What is holding back its constitution?
There are procedural difficulties. It requires amendment in Protection of Human Rights Act. This amendment has to specify which offences are related to human rights or what kind offences come under human rights violations. In addition, procedural and penal powers will also have to be defined.
This has not been done so far. At present, court refers issues related to human rights breaches to Human Rights Commissions. In fact more international laws are entering Indian judiciary. Thus a new machinery is needed.
Will MPHRC lose significance once human right courts come into existence?
No. The Commission will continue to play its role as an agency investigating human rights violations, advise the Government on policy matters, generate awareness and educate people about their rights and atrocities committed against them.
Our motto is to create work culture in all Government agencies, which is pro-person. We are trying the impossible yet we are working to ensure that each person receives a humane treatment.
Which areas in the State have more cases of human rights violations?
Gwalior, Bhind, Morena, Guna, Datia are areas where human right contraventions are more. In Indore, human rights infringements are mostly related to environment and pollution.
But the Commission has not been able to reach the tribals, for example in Balaghat, where Naxalite menace is growing. Tribals are being drawn to Naxalism, as deforestation has uprooted them, creating sustenance crisis. But that issue is to be addressed by society and Government.
Coming to tribals, a number of Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) affected persons complained to MPHRC about atrocities committed on them. Narmada Bachao Andolan supporters did come to me complaining about police resorting to lathi charge on them.
Our findings revealed that police resorted to mild lathi charge when they attempted to barge in to the collectorate at Barwani seated on bullock carts. But we have made it very clear that police would be held accountable if there are excesses. In case of custodial deaths, minimum compensation of Rs 50,000 is to be given to the victim and disciplinary action to be taken against the police officer concerned.
Prison reforms and prisoners’ rights have been on the Commission’s agenda for long. What is the outcome?
We have inspected a lot of prisons. The sanitation conditions have improved but medical facilities are negligible. There are no lady doctors for women prisoners. There is no proper diagnosis for ailing prisoners with the result that disease like tuberculosis is spreading fast among them.
There is no denying that drugs are sent inside to addict prisoners. Victimology is a new theory where the focus for relief has been shifted from accused to the victim. But we are interested in welfare of both. We will be making recommendations to Government on psychological treatment, introducing mobile medical units, involving NGOs, spiritual organisations for reforms so that prisoners come out as good human beings.
What steps have been taken to address children’s problems in schools that lack basic facilities?
The Commission is serious about it. I have reinforced the Ayog Mitra, a core group set up in every district.
The core group which can have upto 11 members, inspects establishments including schools and submits a report to us. It was due to the Commission’s recommendations that Government issued directive that no school will open before 8 am during winters. The core group members also educate people and create awareness. We will have one Ayog Mitra in every village Panchayat from July 2006.
The beleaguered depositors of sinking credit cooperative societies have demanded your intervention to help recover their lost money. We are not omnipotent. It is outside our purview. We don’t have the ‘danda’ to wield. There is a different redressal authority for that.