Srinagar: It took government less than ten days to do away with political appointments of advisory boards and barely a fortnight to change around the civil and police administration.
With three weeks in office now, the ruling alliance headed by PDP’s Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has already appointed Vice Chairman to J&K Waqf Board while it has recommended to the governor to appoint chairman as well as five members of J&K Public Service Commission.
However, the revival of State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) does not seem to be a priority of the state government. The Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs minister Basharat Bukhari insisted that it would be done “soon.”
“Very soon we are reviving everything,” Bukhari, the broadcaster-turned-politician told Kashmir Reader.
“Revival of SHRC is our top priority,” he added.
However, sources said that so far the government has not set in motion the process to search for the people to be appointed as the chairman and members of the J&K’s rights watchdog which is now defunct for nearly nine months.
Sources said there are hundreds of cases pending before the commission and the registry only gives fresh dates to the aggrieved persons who had actually petitioned it to get their grievances addressed.
The SHRC was left defunct on June 28 when its two members, one of them, Rafiq Fida, who was also serving as its acting chairperson, completed their term. The other retired member was Amlok Singh who served it from June 28, 2011,
The Commission is actually headless since October 2011 when Justice (Retd) Bashir-ud-Din retired as chairman. Month later, Abdul Rashid Khan, former Inspector General of Police, completed his term as the member while Javaid Ahmad Kawoosa attained superannuation on October 24, 2013.
Soon after the chairman and the two members (Khan and Kawoosa) retired, the law, justice and parliamentary ministry had announced on its official website that filling up the vacancies was under “active consideration of the Government and the process has already been initiated.”
The SHRC has been empowered to order investigations in cases of human rights violations and recommend measures for effective implementation of laws and safeguards provided by the Constitution to protect human rights.
It is for the first since the inception in 1997 that the SHRC that human rights body has remained defunct.
In 2006, the then Chairman, Justice (Retd) AM Mir had resigned in protest against “non-implementation of the Commission’s recommendations.”
As per the J&K State Protection of Human Rights Act, the Commission comprises of a chairperson and four other members.
The chairperson and members are appointed by a high-level committee headed by Chief Minister. Its members include Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Chairman of the Legislative Council, Home Minister of the State, Leader of the Opposition in Legislative Assembly and Leader of the Opposition in Legislative Council.
There is another watchdog—the State Accountability Commission (SAC)—which is also non-functional since its chairperson Justice (retired) Y P Nargotra and one of the two appointed members, Justice (retired) Imtiyaz Hussain, completed their term in office in August last year.
Both of them were appointed in August 2011 and have completed their three-year term as per the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir State Accountability Commission Act, 2002.
As per Section 4 of the Act, the chairperson and the members are to be appointed by the Governor after obtaining the recommendations of a Committee consisting of the Chief Minister, the Speaker of Legislative Assembly, Chief Justice of the High Court, the Law Minister and the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly.