Srinagar: It has been more than a year since the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) became defunct on June 28 last year 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.
In April this year, the Legislative Council passed two bills to increase the tenure of the chairpersons of SHRC and State Accountability Commission(SAC) to five years.
The move comes in the wake of shortage of retired judges eligible for the posts in the two commissions.
With the passing of the amendment bills, the tenure of the two commissions’ heads has increased to five years from the existing period of three years.
The amendment also makes the upper age limit for their eligibility to 75 years.