‘Death penalty may not prevent rape’. Letter to the Editor by Mr. Mathews Philip, Executive Director, Sichrem.

December 27, 2017
There is no doubt that the rapists should be given stringent punishment.But the  proposal of death sentence for rapists of children below 12 years may not serve any purpose except putting the life of the victim in peril,as the statement of the victim is the strongest evidence against the accused.Moreover, the deterrent effect  of death penalty is disproved time and again.It only satisfies once urge to take revenge.The desire for revenge is not a noble human instinct and the delivery of justice need not be by taking life..When more and more countries are on the path of abolishing death penalty,India should at least restrain from bringing capital punishment for more and more crimes.
Mathews Philip.

Human Rights in Karnataka had gone for a holiday. Letter to the Editor by Mr. Mathews Philip, Executive Director, SICHREM.

December 21, 2017


Appropos ‘ Headless rights body,uncaring govt’ (DH,Dec 20),the editorial has shattered the tall claims of the state on Human Rights.The civil society  groups in Karnataka had been repeatedly asking for appointing a Rtd Chief justice of the HC as the Chair of the KSHRC and also fill the vacancy of the third member.The Govt.turned a deaf year to these pleas during the last five years. Of course the judiciary is the most appropriate body to deal with 
cases of HR violations.Commissions are created to overcome the long delay in the Court procedures and the exorbitant costs involved that is unaffordable for the poor.The rich still  approach the Court.It is the common man’s rights that are denied by keeping the Commission headless for all these years. Will the Chief Minister listen to the message of the editorial and act atleast now?


December 21, 2017

In its order on Civil Appeal No. 707 of 2006 (High Court’s WA No. 3749 of 1999) , the Supreme Court confirmed the order of the Karnataka High Court that :-

 “(i)      An undertaking to be obtained from the industrial/commercial consumers that they will not engage Child Labour.

(ii)       Disconnect power supply to those who employ children in violation of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 and Section 24 of the Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishment Act, 1961/Factories Act, 1948.”

 This is once again a landmark Judgment by the judiciary which will strengthen the efforts for eradicating Child Labour.  This order was passed on a PIL impleaded by the ‘Campaign Against Child Labour – Karnataka’. A judgment of the Supreme Court becomes the law of the land and the KPTCL has the obligation to enforce this verdict. CACL should give wide publicity to this judgment and put pressure on the Ministry of Energy to implement this order.

This case was filed in the High Court in 1999 and the KPTCL went on to appeal in the Supreme Court in 2006 against the order of the High Court and was pending for about 11 years.  Adv. Prof. Ravi Varma Kumar appeared for CACL-K both in the High Court and the Supreme Court.  

Ms. Margaret Sampath, Deputy Director Human Rights Education, conducted a session on Human Rights for HRE teachers at Davangere on 19th December, 2017 organised by Don Bosco Institute

December 20, 2017


‘Pro Bono services shall be made mandatory for Lawyers’. Letter to the Editor by Mr. Mathews Philip, Executive Director, SICHREM.

December 20, 2017

This refers to your editorial on 19th December, titled ‘Can Lawyers’ fees be regulated ?’ It is an unpleasant fact that the poor and even the middle class cannot afford litigation due to the exorbitant professional fees charged by the lawyers. Therefore they continue to suffer injustice and exploitation. This makes the principle of ‘equality before law ‘ a myth. At the same time, one should agree with your opinion that it is not realistic to regulate lawyers’ fees by legislation. The earlier effort by the Supreme Court to set a limit has miserably failed. Of course there is a legal services authority that is supposed to extend free legal aid to the deserving people. Unfortunately this mechanism also is not very popular or performing effectively due to various reasons. What is practical is to make certain percentage of Pro Bono practice mandatory for lawyers. It is appreciated that a number of lawyers do this voluntarily already. But so far it is confined to PILs and cases for NGOs. Individual litigants also should get these services from well experienced senior lawyers. A legislation to guarantee Pro Bono services by all lawyers is the need of the hour. 
Mathews Philip 

Human Rights Day celebration at Thanisandra Government School on 10th December, 2017.

December 20, 2017

‘Why the State Government not appointing the Chair Person for Karnataka State Human Rights Commission- KSHRC for many years.’ Letter to the Editor by Mr. Mathews Philip, Executive Director, SICHREM.

December 18, 2017



This has reference to the report on KSHRC not finding a Chair for the last five years. However Minister T B Jayachandra’s intention of amending the law to appoint a judge of the high court with 10 years’ service is not in the letter and spirit of the law. Protection of Human Rights Act is a central law and the the State has no powers to amend it. State can make rules but those rules should not be flouting the provisions of the Act. None of the reasons stated for not getting a retired Chief Justice to head the Commission is credible enough. Instead of resorting to short cuts, the Government should show political will to set up a proper Human Rights Commission in Karnataka. 

 Mathews Philip