Consultation on the performance of KSHRC and Book Release.

August 27, 2013

Consultation on the performance of KSHRC and Release of the book “Rugged Road to Justice: A Social Audit of Human Rights Commissions in India” by HRLN – Human Rights Law Network and SICHREM – South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring on 24th August 2013.

Displayed below are some photos taken at the event.

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{L to R – Ms. Shakun(Vimochana), Dr. Ramadas Rao(PUCL), Mr. Mathew Jacob(HRLN), Mr. Harsh Dobhal (HRLN).}

ModifiedMr.Mathews Philip, Executive Director – SICHREM addressing the gathering.

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{L to R – Adv. Narasimha Murthy, Mr. Mathews Philip(SICHREM), Mr. Mani Shankar (Youth for Human Rights – Karnataka) , Mr. Siddalinga Gowda (World Human Rights Seva Kendra – Tumkur), Mr. Mallikarjun Raju (Youth for Human Rights – Karnataka), Ms. Feba Peter(SICHREM), Mr. R. Manohar (SICHREM).}

Also present at the Consultation were Ms Swagata Raha (Center for Child and Law) and Ms. Elizabeth Thomas (SICHREM).


Human rights? All left out

August 8, 2013

If safeguarding the rights of people, especially minorities and women, makes for good governance, then the plight of state’s watchdogs paints a sorry picture.

The government bodies set up to look after human rights, and rights of women and minorities are lying headless, and therefore toothless and defanged, for quite some time.

Karnataka State Human Rights Commission (KSHRC), Karnataka State Commission for Women (KSCW) and Karnataka Minorities Development Corporation (KMDC) do not have anybody at the helm. It means these bodies cannot either look into the complaints of rights violation or make recommendations to the government to punish the culprit.

Sorry state of KSHRC

The KSHRC comprises a chairperson and two members.

The body cannot investigate complaints of human rights violation or take any action without the nod of its chairperson. Its previous chairperson, Justice (Retd) SR Nayak, retired on July 25 past year.

One of the two members, RH Raddi, retired two days after Justice Nayak and the other, B Parthasarathy, retired on March 2 past year. The government replaced the two members (appointing Justice Hunagunda and Meera Saxena) only on November 21. The post of the chairperson is still vacant. It has reduced the KSHRC to just a complaint-receiving body.

In 2012, the KSHRC referred 67 cases of human rights violation to the state government. The government, however, decided to act only in 20 cases. As on June 30 this year, the human rights body had a backlog of 14,410 complaints.

Reportedly, one of the two new members of the commission, Saxena, is not well versed in Kannada. R Manohar, director (project), South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (Sichrem), said people have intimated him about Saxena’s language issue. He said the government should appoint only those people to the KSHRC who have thorough knowledge about human rights.

He rued that the commission does not have a chairperson for a year now. He said many cases of human rights violation have taken place in the state in this period. He gave the example of Lakshmi Devi, a housemaid who died recently after setting herself afire, blaming the city police for torturing her to confess to stealing from her employer’s house.

Women’s woes

While the human rights commission is lying headless for a year, the women’s commission is without someone at the helm for six months now. Previous chairperson of the KSWC, C Manjula, quit on February 1 this year. The post is lying vacant since then. In this situation, the body can only counsel the victims who approach them.

The secretary of the KSWC, Kavitha S Mannikeri, said she is with the women’s commission on deputation for the past three months. She said that they are referring complaints to the department concerned for action as, without a chairperson, they do not have the mandate to take a decision.

She said that she herself has been juggling the two official roles she has—one at the KSWC and one as the joint director of child welfare department—on an everyday basis.

Minority report

The KMDC too has gone quiet ever since its previous chairman, Anwar Manippady, stepped down owing to political compulsions. During his tenure, he had exposed people who had encroached wakf properties worth crores of rupees.

Shaik Latheef, KMDC secretary, said that as the organisation is without a chairperson, it cannot take up any survey to tell if the government’s schemes for minorities’ welfare are being implemented. Also, the body cannot make recommendations to the government if it notices some anomaly.

Manippady told dna that the government should appoint a chairperson to the corporation at the earliest. He alleged that some people were working against the KMDC. He said many politicians had encroached wakf properties worth crores of rupees.

 

Source : DNA, Bangalore – 8th August 2013.


SICHREM flays amendment to police act

June 18, 2013

The South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM) criticised the amendment to the Karnataka Police Act stating that it has restored the authority of the government over police transfers.

In a statement, the cell’s executive director Mathews Philip said the amendment takes away the Police Establishment Board’s powers to recommend transfers of officers above Additional SP and lets the government modify its decisions.

“With these amendments, the SICHREM feels that the government has accommodated itself with more powers and this will become its political weapon. The amendments are in direct confrontation and violation  of the directions laid down by the Supreme Court,” Philip said in the statement.

The Cell appreciated the Home Minister agreeing on reservation for SC, ST candidates while choosing members for the PEB.

 

Source : The New Indian Express, dated 17th June 2013.

 


‘Appoint Chairperson for Human Rights Panel’

June 11, 2013

South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM) has urged the government to strengthen the statutory human rights institutions in the State.

It also sought the appointment of a chairperson for the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission, a post which has been vacant since May 2012.

Letter

The SICHREM, in a letter to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, highlighted 14 issues concerning human rights, seeking immediate action from the government.

SICHREM executive director Mathews Philip told presspersons on Friday that human rights mechanisms had been systematically weakened in the State over the past five years.

Although a Lokayukta was appointed recently, the institution should be given more powers, as suggested by the former Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde, to effectively deal with the corruption cases.

SICHREM also sought effective enforcement of the Right To Education Act.

 

Source: The Hindu, 10th June 2013


No head for Human Rights Commission in Karnataka since 10 months

June 5, 2013

Bangalore – With ten months going to be over, the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission has continued to work without the head.  The post of Chairperson is remaining unfilled since the retirement of Justice SR Nayak from the post on 25 July 2012.

Occupied with the internal crisis of the party, the BJP led Government could not appoint the new head for the significant statutory body; whereas, the new Congress government is yet to come out of the celebration mood post victory in assembly elections. However, the new chairperson cannot be appointed without the consultation with other Constitutional bodies.

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The Chairperson shall be appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of the Committee comprising the Chief Minister as chairperson, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Minister in-charge of the Department of Home, Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly, Chairman of Legislative Council and the leader opposition in the Council.

Only 1972 cases were disposed by the Commission between the period of August 2012 and March 2013, while the total numbers of registered cases stand for 3785. 1814 complaints of human rights violation remain pending.

Along-with the retirement of the Justice SR Nayak, two members-RH Reddy and B Parthasarathi –  of the Commission were also retired. The then BJP Government appointed – a retired IAS officer Meera Saksena and  Justice Chandrashekar Gurubasappa Hungund- as the  new members of the Commission in November 2012. 

Only after these appointments, the functioning of the Commission gained momentum for some extent. But, the cases registered from August 2012 to December 2012 are still pending.

No secretary:

While the post of Secretary remains a significant position for any institution, the KSHRC has no exclusive secretary since one and half year.

While the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2006 says that the State Government shall make available to the Commission an officer not below the rank of a Secretary to the State Government who shall be the Secretary of the State Commission; the then BJP government has assigned this additional charge of the Secretary to the IGP (Investigation) of the KSHRC, Sunil Agrawal.

13000 plus cases pending:

Since the inception of the Commission in July 2007, a total of 39271 cases of human rights violations have been registered till 31 March 2013. While 25677 cases were disposed off, 13594 cases remain pending.  The registered cases include both from the public and the suo moto cases based on the media reports.

Website not updated:

With last updation on 24 February 2012, the website of the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission says that ‘Site is under maintenance mode and hence minimum links are operational’.

Rights activists unhappy:

This is very unfortunate to see the Government’s inability to appoint a head to the prominent commission of the state, said Manohar Ranganathan of South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM).

Referring the raise in various kinds of human rights violations – communalism, casteism, police atrocities, and economical disparities, he urged the newly formed Government to appoint the Chairperson to the Commission at the earliest.

We have already drafted a letter to the Chief Minister and the Law minister; we would soon meet them and draw their attention in this regard, he said.

Consultative Core Committee scrapped:

In last June, the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission (KSHRC) under the chairmanship of Justice SR Nayak had formed a Consultative Core Committee that comprised 21 civil society members or NGOs, to interact with KSHRC from time to time regarding violations of human rights and its enforcement in the state.

But, in last April, the Commission has scrapped the Consultative Core Committee saying that the committee is not “serving its purpose”.

Source : Newzfirst, 24th May 2013


Complaint of Judicial Death of Gurusiddappa (70), inmate of Gulbarga Jail.

June 1, 2013

The Member  

Karnataka State Human Rights Commission

4th Floor, 5th Phase,

M.S.Building, Bangalore- 560001                                           

 

Dear Sir,

Subject: Complaint of Judicial Death of Gurusiddappa (70), inmate of Gulbarga Jail.

The New Indian Express 20th May 2013, reports in its columns the information of the death of Gurusiddappa (70years), a resident of Desanagi village of Jewargi taluk, an under-trial he was ill and admitted to the Gulbarga District Government Hospital on May 14 and discharged on Saturday. After returning to jail, Gurusiddappa complained of ill-health and was taken back to the hospital. However, he died within half-an-hour, police said on Sunday. 

He had been arrested by the Ashok Nagar police in 1992 in connection with a murder case and was released on bail two years later. He violated the conditions of bail and was absconding. The police arrested him three months ago.

We file this complaint with a hope that a detailed enquiry into the whole matter is initiated, and that your good offices look into the circumstances involving the death of Mr. Gurusiddappa and

1. To look into the exact causes of the death,

2. The functions and the maintenance of the prison,

3. Whether there were medial personnel and facilities available for the treatment at the jail?

4. Whether there was a failure on the part of the jail personnel, doctors in treatment?

5. How did he die after getting treatment for 5 days (admitted o 14th and death on Sunday)?

6.To inquire further if the procedures and guidelines laid down by the NHRC in its letter No.66/SG/NHRC/93 dated 14 December 1993 on reporting custodial deaths and also with reference to the letter vide No 40/3/95/LD dated 21 June 1995 has been adhered &d followed ?                               

7.To inquire, if the guidelines laid by the NHRC, as per the letter addressed by the Chairperson to the Chief ministers vide letter dated 10th August, 1995 on the video filming of post-mortem examinations in cases of custodial deaths has been followed?

8. To also inquire, if the guidelines laid down by the NHRC, as per the letter addressed by the Chairperson to the Chief Ministers vide letter No.NHRC/ID/PM/96/57 dated 27th March 1997.

Thanking you,

Yours Truly,

R.Manohar

Head – Programs


SICHREM’s response to SHRC on the order of Cancellation of Consultative Core Committee of NGOs

April 24, 2013

To

 The Secretary,(I/c),
Karnataka State Human Rights Commission,
4th Floor, 5th Phase, Multi Storyed Building,
Bangalore – 560001

Sir,

Sub: Cancellation of Consultative Core Committee of NGOs

Ref: Your letter No: HRC/184/Adm/2010 dated 15th April 2013

We are in receipt of the above mentioned letter. Kindly note that SICHREM has neither applied nor lobbied for membership of the Consultative Committee of NGOs. However, we appreciated the setting up of this Committee because it is a mandate given to the Hon Commission by Section 12(i) of the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993. The Section provides for encouraging the efforts of non – governmental organizations and institutions working in the field of Human Rights. Consultative Committee of NGOs is one of the mechanisms that can promote participation by Civil Society. Since SICHREM was nominated into this Committee, we were happy to participate in the functioning of the same.

One of the reasons stated in the above mentioned letter for cancellation is that none of the members of the Committee has come forward to discuss the violations of Human Rights matters before the Hon Commission. This reason has no justification because though the Core Committee was constituted, the Hon Commission has never called a meeting of the Core Committee till date. It is to be noted that the NHRC also has a NGO Core Team and it is the NHRC who calls the meeting of this team periodically (The undersigned is a member of the National Core Team of NGOs of the NHRC). The other reason states that some of the members of the Committee are misusing the name of the KSHRC and taking undue advantage of the special status given to them. First of all it is not understood what special status is attached to the members of this Committee. If anybody is found to be misusing the name of KSHRC and taking undue advantage, nothing prevents the Hon Commission to remove that member from the Committee and take other appropriate action. Killing the Committee itself is not the answer.

It is unfair to make a general remark that some members have misused the name of KSHRC because it is putting all members under suspicion. The Hon Commission may kindly make it clear who has indulged in such inappropriate actions.

We would like to state that this action by the Hon Commission is discouraging and unfriendly to Human Rights NGOs who can actually support the Hon Commission in its effective performance. SICHREM urges the Hon Commission to revert this decision immediately and call a meeting of the Core Committee so that the Committee is given a platform to serve its purpose for which it was constituted.

 Mathews Philip
Executive Director