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Lack of division bench in AHRC affects justice delivery

By MAMATA MISHRA
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GUWAHATI, July 28 - Despite completing investigation into as many as 97 cases related to human rights violation in the State, the Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has not been able to dispose of the cases for want of a division bench for the past eight months.

At present running with only one judicial member who was appointed in March this year, the Commission, despite taking up cases, is completely helpless to deliver justice. As on date, the AHRC is having a backlog of 272 cases, of which more than 180 have been registered this year.

The Commission is also in a headless state after its Chairman Justice AH Saikia demitted office in November last year following completion of his term. It needs mention that the non-judicial member of the AHRC has not been appointed in the Commission since 2013.

�The Commission is registering fresh cases on a regular basis and ordering inquiries into several incidents as suo moto cognisance as well. Though we have received the inquiry reports in 97 such cases, the Commission cannot dispose cases or award monetary compensation to the victims unless either a chairman or a non-judicial member is selected by the committee headed by the Chief Minister,� judicial member of the AHRC Naba Kamal Bora told this reporter.

On the other hand, the State government�s correspondence with other states of the country in search of a retired chief justice of a high court to take charge of the AHRC has also failed to fetch any positive response.

�We have not yet found a retired chief justice, who is willing to serve as chairman of the State�s Human Rights Commission. A predicament is being faced by some other states of the country as well. We have to explore the option of approaching the serving chairman of a human rights commission of another state, who can also take charge of the AHRC,� said LS Changsan, Commissioner and Secretary of the State Home and Political Department.

Sources privy to the developments however stated that the AHRC had taken up the issue with the State government in June, 2016 but due to lack of a prompt action, the human rights body was reduced to a nearly defunct status.

Several cases of serious nature including death in police custody, electrocution deaths, negligence by the government hospital authorities etc., are pending in the Commission.

Recently, the single-member bench had also directed magisterial inquiries into the police firing at Goalpara, reportedly resulting in the death of one Yakub Ali; death of Krishna Mandal in the ICU of GMCH after he was picked up by Gorchuk police in a car theft case; a departmental inquiry into the case of snapping of a high voltage power cable that damaged 20 houses in Chhaygaon of Kamrup district and food poisoning in a school of Barpeta after the midday meal provided by the school.

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Lack of division bench in AHRC affects justice delivery

GUWAHATI, July 28 - Despite completing investigation into as many as 97 cases related to human rights violation in the State, the Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has not been able to dispose of the cases for want of a division bench for the past eight months.

At present running with only one judicial member who was appointed in March this year, the Commission, despite taking up cases, is completely helpless to deliver justice. As on date, the AHRC is having a backlog of 272 cases, of which more than 180 have been registered this year.

The Commission is also in a headless state after its Chairman Justice AH Saikia demitted office in November last year following completion of his term. It needs mention that the non-judicial member of the AHRC has not been appointed in the Commission since 2013.

�The Commission is registering fresh cases on a regular basis and ordering inquiries into several incidents as suo moto cognisance as well. Though we have received the inquiry reports in 97 such cases, the Commission cannot dispose cases or award monetary compensation to the victims unless either a chairman or a non-judicial member is selected by the committee headed by the Chief Minister,� judicial member of the AHRC Naba Kamal Bora told this reporter.

On the other hand, the State government�s correspondence with other states of the country in search of a retired chief justice of a high court to take charge of the AHRC has also failed to fetch any positive response.

�We have not yet found a retired chief justice, who is willing to serve as chairman of the State�s Human Rights Commission. A predicament is being faced by some other states of the country as well. We have to explore the option of approaching the serving chairman of a human rights commission of another state, who can also take charge of the AHRC,� said LS Changsan, Commissioner and Secretary of the State Home and Political Department.

Sources privy to the developments however stated that the AHRC had taken up the issue with the State government in June, 2016 but due to lack of a prompt action, the human rights body was reduced to a nearly defunct status.

Several cases of serious nature including death in police custody, electrocution deaths, negligence by the government hospital authorities etc., are pending in the Commission.

Recently, the single-member bench had also directed magisterial inquiries into the police firing at Goalpara, reportedly resulting in the death of one Yakub Ali; death of Krishna Mandal in the ICU of GMCH after he was picked up by Gorchuk police in a car theft case; a departmental inquiry into the case of snapping of a high voltage power cable that damaged 20 houses in Chhaygaon of Kamrup district and food poisoning in a school of Barpeta after the midday meal provided by the school.

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