CHIEF Justice of India Justice YK Sabharwal on Saturday said despite a spurt in violation of law these days only 14 states had taken initiative to establish State Human Rights Commissions.
Raising a question mark over the seriousness of the states toward protecting the human rights, Sabharwal said the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 was enacted and brought into force to strengthen the dominion of human rights in India.
“The law envisaged Human Rights Commission at two levels. One had to have a Pan-India role since responsibility of protecting and promoting human rights of the citizens for ushering in good governance is part of the constitutional obligation of the State as a whole”, he said.
Speaking after foundation laying ceremony of the Human Rights Commission, Sabharwal said, “The second rung of human rights apparatus was mooted in the law at the level of each State, creating an obligation on the State Government to constitute, provide for and sustain State Human Rights Commission”. He said that the states had adopted a tardy attitude toward setting up of State Commissions.
“When the issue of setting up of Human Rights Commission is raised on various platforms the states often back out sighting financial crunch. It seems that the government has paucity of fund for court and commissions only”, Sabharwal rued.
“Setting up of a State Human Rights Commission is statutory responsibility of all State Governments. The duty of the State does not end merely with the establishment of the Commission. Such machinery should be provided with requisite infrastructure, staff, requisite assured financial sustenance and autonomy”, he said. “On the contrary the progress of the State Human Rights Commission on each of these fronts has been very slow,” Sabharwal lamented.
He said “the National Human Rights Commission in its annual report for 2003-04 expressed its regret over the delay. The attitude of the government also puts question mark over the good governance”.
“The example of UP Human Rights Commission is often quoted as one such instance in this context”, Sabharwal said. “The establishment of the Commission was notified by the State Government on October 7, 2002 in the wake of setting up of a committee under the chairmanship of Justice AK Srivastava. The Commission did not become fully functional in May 2003 and the Supreme Court directed Justice Srivastava to continue with the investigation of human rights violation. The State Commission had devoted its energies in persuading the state executive to take care of its need instead of carrying out the statutory function for which it was established”, he said. “Today human rights is not only concerned with beating up a person in the police lock-up, but it focuses on the issues like environment, food, nutrition, healthcare etc. If people at the grassroots are not getting benefit of the Commission, then what is the need for setting up a Human Rights Commission”, he asked.
Expressing his views on the occasion, CM Mulayam Singh Yadav said the State Government had already released Rs 13.8 cr for the construction of the State Human Rights Commission building. He announced that the State Government would release additional Rs 10 cr for the building and said the construction would be completed within two years.
Chairman of the State Human Rights Commission AP Mishra said UP would be the first state in the country to have its own building.