SRINAGAR: The J&K high court on Monday directed government to reveal by June 1 as to why State Human Rights Commission has not been revived so far.
“The counsel appearing for respondents (state authorities) to report as to why assurance given by the Advocate General is not adhered to and why the Supreme Court directions are not complied with,” a division bench of Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice D S Thakur ordered after court’s registry informed it that there has been no compliance by the government to its directions last year.
The SHRC has been defunct for nearly two years now and the ruling alliance failed to revive it in its first 10-month stint under Mufti Muhammad Sayeed despite the high court’s deadline of four-week on October 14 last year. The high court had directed the state to “strictly adhered to” the time limit (November 10, 2015) in appointing the chairperson and for members of the commission.
The court’s order had followed an assurance by the government that revitalizing the commission was under its “active consideration”.
Referring to a judgment by the Supreme Court, the high court had observed that the Act has been enacted to provide better protection of human rights relating to life, liberty, equality, dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in the state. “The statute has conferred wide range powers upon SHRC and the Commission is therefore required to be constituted with persons who have held very high constitutional offices earlier so that all aspects of good and adjudicatory procedures would be familiar to them.”
Headed by the chief minister, the panel to appoint both SHRC chairman and members comprises speaker of the legislative assembly, chairman of legislative council, minister incharge Home as well as the leaders of opposition in assembly and the council.
More than 2000 cases, mainly related to human right violations, are pending disposal since June 28, 2014 when two of its last members—Rafiq Fida, who was also serving as its acting chairperson, and Amlok Singh completed their term in office.
The SHRC 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 Kawoos attained superannuation on October 24, 2013.
Soon after the chairman and the two members (Khan and Kawoos) 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.”
On September 15 last year, then Advocate General informed the court that immediately after the meeting to appoint the chairman and members of the State Accountability Commission, the meeting for selection of the chairperson and the member of SHRC shall also be convened. The meeting to appoint members of the SAC was held on September 17 last year.
As per the SHRC Act, the chairperson must be a sitting or retired judge of the high court and one member must be a sitting or retired district judges while three members must be persons having practical knowledge and experience in matters relating to the human rights. As per the amended act, a person appointed as chairperson or a member shall hold office for a term of five years from the date of which he assumes his office or until he attains the age of 75 years, whichever is earlier.