GUWAHATI, Feb 4 - The Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC), dysfunctional and in a headless state for close to two months now, would soon get a new panel with the State government fast-tracking the process of selecting a Chairperson and two members of the rights body.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has summoned a meeting on February 8 as per statutory provisions to accelerate the process of selecting the new heads of the AHRC.
After its judicial member Tarun Phookan demitted his office on December 15 last year completing his tenure, the Commission has not been able to take up any case.
Chairman of the Commission, Justice Aftab Hussain Saikia completed his term in November 2016 and the non-judicial member Jyoti Prasad Chaliha had retired way back in February 2013 and the post has been vacant since then.
As per statutory provisions, a committee comprising the Chief Minister, the Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly and the Leader of Opposition would decide on the members of the rights panel.
LS Changsan, Commissioner and Secretary, Home and Political department, told The Assam Tribune that appointment of the new Speaker of the State Assembly has now paved the way for constituting the rights panel with a Chairperson, a judicial member and a non-judicial member.
�The Chief Minister has called a meeting on February 8 in this regard. A panel of eligible persons has been identified and the committee would finalize the names of the members thereafter,� she said.
The AHRC, a last resort for many people seeking justice for rights violations, has a backlog of nearly 100 cases at present. During the last two months, the Commission received 30 cases of alleged human rights violation.
�This apart, the rights body has been taking suo moto cognizance, mostly based on media reports on the issues of rights violation. Recently two custodial deaths have been reported in media, but steps could not be taken in the absence of a Commission,� AHRC sources said.
From December 2011 to August 2016, the Commission has disposed 2006 cases of human rights violation. It has also recommended monetary compensation worth Rs 84 lakh in 26 cases.
The nature of the cases includes police excesses, custodial deaths, dereliction of duty by government employees causing rights violation, etc.
It may be noted that a meeting of National Human Rights Commission with all the State Human Rights Commission is scheduled for February 18, which would evaluates functioning of the SHRCs, and the AHRC is in a dilemma over presenting its case at a national platform.