Guwahati, July 18: Acute shortage of manpower, inordinate delays by police and government agencies to reply to its notices and lack of basic facilities has hit the functioning of Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) hard.
Set up in 1996 with the mandate to protect and uphold human rights under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, the AHRC is struggling to deliver its services with about half of the cases registered with it since 2008 lying indisposed.
Sources in the commission told The Telegraph that disposal of cases were affected because of manpower crunch in its investigation wing, law and research wing as well as administration and accounts wing. The commission is functioning without a chairman since May 31, when Justice Sujit Roy Barman retired and no new chairman has been nominated. Two members of the AHRC are unable to carry out the work because of lack of facilities and support.
Only an inspector-general of police and two constables are looking after the investigation wing. The post of superintendent of police is lying vacant and there are no inspectors to carry out any probe in cases of human rights violations. “Functioning of the commission has been badly hit as the police and officers of the government departments do not reply to us in time. After going through a compliant, we normally issue notices to officers of the department concerned to submit a report within 45 days. However, the officers take months and years to reply to our notices,” an AHRC source said.
For example, the source said, based on a compliant by one Parijat Kapoor about non-release of the salary of her husband Rajesh Kapoor, the commission in its verdict on August 29, 2009 had asked the commissioner and secretary of state secondary education to release the salary and provide a action taken report. However, the commission is yet to receive any reply from the department even after two years.
It has registered 830 complaints in the last three years, of which only 433 cases have been disposed of. The AHRC had received 314 cases in 2008-09 and 260 cases the next year. Till March this year, it registered 256 cases but only 97 cases have been cleared.
“Assam is the only state where salary structure of members of the commission is not followed. According to National Human Rights Commission, members of the commission should be given salary and allowances at par with a judge of a high court but the process is not followed here,” the source said.
“There is an urgent need to revamp the commission for speedy disposal of human rights complaints and to uphold human rights,” he said.