Monday, December 14, 2009

Human Rights Commission - Misplaced compliments

From: Ravindran Major
Sent: Sun, 13 December, 2009 8:01:00 AM
Subject: [SoldiersForDemocracy] Human Rights Commission - Misplaced compliments

Mr Minister
I have read a report wherein it was mentioned that you had complimented the Kerala State Human Rights Commission for the exemplery work it has been doing. I am writing to you now to place on record the fact that you have not only exposed your own ignorance and incompetence but also insulted the citizens who have been approaching the Commission seeking justice and waiting endlessly for the same. I do not know if you are aware that these quasi judicial institutions- Human Rights Commission, Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Womens Commission etc- have been set up to deliver easy, fast and free justice but have grossly failed in their tasks. Taking the example of the HRC itself, I had the occassion to approach them with a complaint when 13 of us activists were arrested by the police for holding a dharna in front of the venue where the Chief Information Commissioner of the Kerala State Information Commission was the chief guest. In a state where illegal bandhs masqurading as hartals is the order of the day and police refuse to register FIRs even when citizens approach them with serious complaints, this obviously was a gross human rights violation. So initially a copy of the complaint addressed to the police authorities themselves and the Home Minister was endorsed to the Human Rights Commission also. But it was NOT accepted on the ground that copies of complaints addressed to other authorities will not be accepted. Subsequently, I lodged a complaint addressed to them during their sitting here at Palakkad on 26/5/08. NO acknowledgement was given. After three months, when the Commission held its sitting here, on enquiry I was told that the matter was being investigated. Next time I was told that since it involved another Commission, legal opinion was being sought. This was a patent lie because there was no other Commission involved in the complaint as it was purely against the Dy SP for abuse of authority. Though the dharna was held against the CIC there was NO official complaint from him (or, for that matter, from the organisers or participants of their program). Third time I was told that the report from the police has been sought but response was awaited. Finally in Apr 2009, I was told that the complaint was not traceable and I was asked to submit another copy. I refused to submit a fresh copy until I was informed in writing the disposal of my original complaint. It was then, after returning to Thiruvananthapuram, that I was rung up and informed of the complaint number (2752/08)! Thereafter both the present Chairman and one member have held single member sittings here and on both occassions they have expressed ignorance of the matter because they were new to the job!
Meanwhile the case filed by the police in the court of the Judicial First Class Magistrate here has been dismissed! Well, though the case was ultimately dismissed it cannot be overstated that the process was indeed a torture in itself. More about that later.
Coming back to the HRC, you may also be aware of the report that appeared in the media sometime back about the then Chairman of the Commission holding regular sittings of the Commission at Guruvayur, the most famous temple town in Kerala, on the 1st of every malayalam month. It doesn't need much intelligence to understand what sort of hearing was being held there so regularly. I do not know if even after that exposure you had botherd to check about the goings on in the Commission. For example, which are the locations other than district headquarters where the Commission was holding sittings (as different from visiting a site in connection with a particular case), the periodicity and regularity of such sittings, whether they were holding such sittings as per a schdule that was drawn up and published well in advance etc. In fact it may be investigated why this and other commissions cannot hold their sittings at various district headquarters on fixed days of the month. It must also be ensured that when there is failure to abide by this schedule a report is immediately forwarded by the Chairman to the Minister, or a monitoring cell instituted by him, giving the detailed reasons for such failure. I also take this opportunity to suggest that a study of the cost to exchequer of this and similar other commissions vis a vis their performances should be undertaken and I can guarantee that it would be an eye opener.

Yours truly

P M Ravindran
Aathira, Kalpathy-678003
Tel: 0491-2576042

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