Friday, September 1st, 2006
New Delhi – Thirteen years after a law providing for states to set up their own human rights commissions, 12 Indian states do not have one.
Of the 16 that do, five states including Punjab, Karnataka and Maharashtra, do not have chairpersons.
‘This is very discouraging to find that in a democracy like India 12 Indian states are yet to have their human right commissions,’ said Justice A.S. Anand, chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), here Friday.
The Human Rights Act, 1993, provides for states to have their own human rights commissions. Gujarat and Haryana do not have their human rights commissions.
‘Lack of a state human rights commission is certainly a hurdle towards ensuring peoples’ rights. The concerned state governments should act fast on this direction,’ Anand told IANS.
The NHRC faces no infrastructural and financial problems, but the state commissions are lagging behind, he said speaking on the sideline of a NHRC and state human rights commission meeting here.
‘They do not have financial stability, adequate manpower or even proper buildings. Five states including Punjab, Karnataka and Maharashtra have no full time chairpersons in state commissions,’ he revealed.
Currently, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Kerala, Manipur, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar have their respective human rights commissions.
Anand, also a former Supreme Court chief justice, said that he had written to the concerned state governments on setting up their own commissions and to the ones that do have, to upgrade the infrastructure.
‘I have, as a last ditch attempt, written to all the state governments to provide the necessary arrangements to their existing human rights commissions, and for setting up commissions,’ said Anand, who is to retire in November.
He expressed satisfaction on the response of the central government to NHRC. ‘NHRC is neither a judicial or quasi-judicial body, but the government is accepting 90 percent of our recommendations.’
The NHRC and state rights commissions met Friday to discuss on how to improve the functioning of the commissions and for better protection of human rights.