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SC to Hear Plea Seeking Direction to the Centre for Setting Up Human Rights Court in Every District

Author-Astha Srivastava, (Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi)

The SC bench issued notices to all 29 states and 7 UTs on the plea which also sought appointment of Special Public Prosecutors for conducting speedy trial of offences arising out of Human Rights violation within 3 months.

Human Rights violations have always been on stake. We come across instances everyday where heinous crimes like child abuse, man slaughter ethnic cleansing etc. takes place. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and special covenants are provided for the rights of children and women. India is a signatory and state party to various international Human Rights to promote universal respect for and observance of Human Rights and Fundamental freedom. Even after the provisions made, the problem still remains the same.

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India is world’s largest sovereign, secular, democratic republic, Human Rights in India is a complicated issue because of the country’s large size and population, widespread poverty and lack of proper education. Having a look to various reports and studies on Human Rights Practices in India, it can easily be seen that Protection of Human Rights in India needs to be done with some strict steps. One such human right violation is Communal riots between religious groups, which have been prevalent in India. The 2002, Gujarat riots ended with taking 1,044 lives, as per the official sources. However, unofficial sources estimated death of about 2,000 people.

In a very recent petition filed by a law student Bhavika Phore, through advocate Aakarsh Kamra, invoked writ jurisdiction of the Hon’ble Supreme Court under Article 32 of Part III of the Constitution of India in which direction was sought to the centre to provide sufficient and adequate funds for setting up Human Rights court in all 725 districts in 29 states and 7 union territories in a time bound manner. Moreover, establishment of special Human Rights Courts would further strengthen and enhance existing mechanism and also boost up preservation and protection of human rights.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose issued notices to all 29 states which also sought for appointment of Special Public Prosecutor (SPPs) for conducting speedy trial of offences arising out of human rights violation within 3 months.

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The above petition was related to the implementation of Section 30 & 31 in Chapter VI of the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993. Section 30 of the PHRA says the state government in concurrence of the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court will specify for each district a Human Rights Court for speedy trial of human Rights violation. Section 31 of the act provides for the state government to specify and appoint SPPs for conducting cases.

During the year 2001 to 2010, the NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) recorded that 14,231 people died in police and judicial custody in India. A large no. of deaths in this custody was a consequence of torture done to them in such police and judicial custody. The plea referred to these reports on custodial deaths in the country in past years referring to “abuse of power” and “unfathomable torture” undergone by individuals due to police excess. As per the reports of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) of  the Ministry of Home Affairs during 2009,out of total 84 cases of death in police custody, death in 80 cases were attributed to hospitalisation/treatment (9 cases),accidents(4 cases),by mob attack/riot(2 cases),by other criminals(3 cases),by suicide(21 cases),while escaping from custody(8 cases),and illness/natural death (33 cases).

The petition said “Torture remains endemic, institutionalised and central to the administration of justice. India has demonstrated no political will to end torture as it remains widespread and integral to law enforcement”. The Amnesty International Report 2017/18 also focuses on India and its deplorable state of Human Rights present in the country, the petition stated.

In the case of Dilip K. Basu vs. State of West Bengal AIR 2015 SC 2887, the Hon’ble Court pointed out the laxity of State Governments in not forming the Human Rights Court and urged all the states to comply with the same.

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According to Article 39-A of the Constitution of India, The State shall secure that the operation of legal system promotes justice, on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities. It is the primary responsibility on the state to ensure that needs of citizens are met and their basic human rights are protected.

“To uphold and protect the basic and fundamental Rights of an individual, it is an indispensable obligation upon the state to provide affordable, effective and speedy trial of offences related to violation of Human Rights, which can only be achieved by setting up special courts in each district, as provided under the Act”, the petitioner law student Bhavika Phore told the court.

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