Other Important cases
  Year 1993-1994
Appeal for expeditious arrangements for heart surgery of Harihar Behara lodged in Central Jail, Berhampur, Ganjam (Orissa)
Murder of Dinesh Pathak, editor of a newspaper in Baroda

Year 1994-1995
Illegal chaining of a patient in a hospital in Orissa
Conditions of Chakma & Hajong refugees settled in Arunachal Pradesh
Enhanced compensation to persons affected by the activities of extremists in Andhra Pradesh
Complaint of Dr. Subramanian Swamy, President, Janata Party, alleging systematic denial of permission to him and to his party, by the Govt. of Tamil Nadu, to hold public meetings in the State.

Year 1995-1996
End to discriminatory treatment in the remission of unexpired portion life sentence in Orissa
Compensation to the next of kin of riot victims in Gujarat

Year 1997-1998
Release of foreign nationals in Indian jails
Right to form Association: State Govt.’s Orders prohibiting teachers and other faculty members (APCLS), Andhra Pradesh
Killing of 29 Bus Passengers in Peren, Nagaland

Year 1998-1999
Protection of right of victims in cases of industrial hazards, U.P.(CASE NO :19900/24/97-98 )

Year 1999-2000
Negligence by a medical officer, U.P.(CASE NO:7122/24/98-99)
Death of an innocent person owing to negligence of State Electricity Board, Bihar (CASE NO: 2010/4/98-99)

Year 2000-2001
Killing of 35 Sikhs by militants in Anantnag District of J&K by militants (CASE NO:206/9/1999-2000)

Year 2001-2002
Death due to Electrocution- strict liability of the State, Jharkhand (CASE NO:1509/4/2000-2001)
Cases where decision of the Commission has been upheld by Court-Sh. Mohammed Khan, Haryana (CASE NO:7/21/96-LD)

Year 2002-2003
Death due to Electrocution(Case No.17324/24/1999-2000)
Harassment of Shri Kumpampadom thoman Skaria, by an Immigration Officer at the Mumbai Airport: Maharahstra (Case No.263/13/2000-2001)
Measures to prevent deaths due to starvation: Orissa (Case No.37/3/97-LD)

Year 2003-2004
Medical Treatment to XXX, an HIV Positive patient at LNJP Hospital: New Delhi (Case No:1698/30/2003-2004)
Intimation from IG(Prison) Delhi Regarding Prisoner Shri Charanjeet (Case No: 3628/30/2001-2002)
Power Department’s Negligence Kills Five Year Old Boy: Goa (Case No: 33/5/2000-2001/FC)
Death of Dirisam Lajer Due to Electrocution: Andhra Pradesh (Case No.147/1/2001-2002(FC)
Militants Attack ‘Langer’ – “7 Vaishno Devi Pilgrims Killed”. Jammu & Kashmir [Case No: 58/9/2003-2004(FC)]
Medical treatment to Ailing Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Veteran political Leader: Jammu & Kashmir [Case No:1271/34/2002-2003/FC]
Action Taken on the Cases Reported in the Annual Reports for the Year 2001-2002 and 2002-2003

Year 2004-2005
Death of Dirisam Lajer, an agricultural labourer by electrocution - Case No. 147/1/2001-2002(FC)
PUNJAB MASS CREMATION CASE
Displacement of farmers and agricultural labourers by construction of a barrage across the river Nagavalli – reief and rehabilitation: Andhra Pradesh – Case No. 667/1/2002-2003(FC)
Rehabilitation and Resettlement of tribals : Karnataka - Case No: 505/10/97-98(FC)
Suicide of farmers in Andhra Pradesh and Kerala - Case No.208/1/2004-2005(FC)(LF 444/1/2001-2002 & 488/1/2004-2005)
Suicide by farmers: Karnataka - Case File No.180/10/2003-2004(FC)(LF No.213/10/2003-2004)
Devastation caused by tsunami in coastal areas of South India – Case No. 1054/22/2004-2005-FC
Death of Nazia Kouser by beatings given by ultras in District Poonch, Jammu & Kashmir - Case No. 68/9/2003-2004(WC)/FC
Throwing of bleaching powder solution on the face of Ms. Jeena Kumari, resident of Tamil Nadu - Case No: 103/22/2003-2004(WC)/FC
Denial of visas to certain Sikh NRIs - Case No: 6/99/2003-2004
Deportation of Pakistani Nationals after undergoing imprisonment - Case No.2218/30/2003-2004

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Year 1993-94

Appeal for expeditious arrangements for heart surgery of Harihar Behara lodged in Central Jail, Berhampur, Ganjam (Orissa)

The Commission received a representation from Shri D.N. Panda, Advocate, Cuttack, stating that prisoner Harihar Behera in Central Jail, Berhampur, in the State of Orissa needed immediate heart surgery as advised by the Cardiology Department, S.C.B. Medical College Hospital, Cuttack, and asked for the intervention of the Commission.

The Commission called for a report from the inspector General of Prisons, Cuttack and directed him to make provision for medical assistance in the manner asked for, if the matter was urgent.

The Inspector General of Prisons responded to the Commission's directions and stated that the Government of Orissa had been moved to approve the journey of Shri Harihar Behera outside the State and that sanction of funds and orders to that effect were awaited.

On 24 March 1994, the I.G. Prisons further informed the Commission that on the petition of the wife of Shri Harihar Behera for release of her husband on special parole for a period of 90 days for open heart surgery at C.M.C. Vellore or at AIIMS, New Delhi at her own cost, the Government of Orissa had sanctioned 90 days special parole. Accordingly, Shri Harihar Behera had been released on special parole for 90 days with effect from 28 February 1994.


Murder of Dinesh Pathak, editor of a newspaper in Baroda

The Writers in Prison Committee of International P.E.N. had in February 1994 taken up with the Commission, inter alia, the case of Shri Dinesh Pathak who was stabbed to death reportedly by Shiv Sena activists on 22 May 1993. The Commission took cognizance of the case and directed the authorities concerned to submit a report.

The Commission has since been informed that 19 Shiv Sena activists were involved in the crime and they have all been arrested. One of the arrested persons was killed when he tried to escape from police custody. Out of the accused who were arrested, 16 are still in judicial custody. The trial is likely to commence shortly.


Year 1994-95

Illegal chanining of a patient in a hospital in Orissa

The Commission received a complaint from the Kalahandi Consumers Welfare Organization alleging that, in a misuse of poer by public servants, a social worker, Shri Radhanath Pradhan, had been chained to his hospital bed. The complaint was accompanied by photographs of the incident. The Commission accordingly called for a report from the Collector and District Magistrate, Kalahandi.

On perusing that report, the Commission noted that Shri Radhanath Pradhan had been prosecuted for offences committed under Sections 448/294/353 of the IPC in regard to incidents which were mentioned in the complaint. The Chief Judicial Magistrate had found him guilty and had sentenced him to imprisonment of one year and a fine of Rs. 1,000/-. It was also noted that Shri Pradhan had filed an appeal in the Court o the Sessions Judge. Without taking a position on Shri Pradhan’s arrest, as that issue was before the Sessions Judge, the Commission expressed grave displeasure over the changing of Shri Pradhan to his hospital bed. The Commission added that, unless there wire special reasons and a judicial order in support of such action, patients under treatment in hospitals must not be chained.

Following these directions, the State Government has issued appropriate instructions to all concerned officials in the State


Conditions of Chakma & Hojong refugees settled in Arunachal Pradesh

The Commission received representations from the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Amnesty International regarding the plight of Chakma and Hajong refugees living in Arunachal Pradesh. It was stated that these groups, comprising respectively Buddhists and Hindus, fed for fear of persecution on grounds of their religion from the Chittagong Hill Tracts, in what was formerly East Pakistan, between the years 1964-1971. Onginally welcomed to India and to parts of NEFA, which today form Arunachal Pradesh, they were now increasingly being harassed and threatened in that State. when some of them tried to flee to Assam, it was alleged that the Government of Assam threatened to shoot them if they did so. Allegations regarding threats to the life and property of Chakmas and Hajongs were also conveyed directly to the Chairperson of the Commission through representatives of their communities who had traveled to Delhi from Arunachal Pradesh.

The Commission, in a communication to the State Government on 29 September 1994 stated that it was the obligation of that Government to accord protection to the person and property of the members of the two communities and to ensure that their human rights were not violated. In addition, the Commission called upon the State Government to take prompt action to restore normalcy. It also urged the Ministry of Home Affairs to ensure prompt and necessary action by the State Government.

The "Committee for Citizenship" of the Chakmas in Arunachal Pradesh also sent a representation to the Commission asserting that while the Chakmas and Hajong communities settled in other North-Eastern States of India were enjoying the full-fledged rights of Indian Citizenship, those settled in Arunachal Pradesh were not being granted such citizenship because o the State Government’s adamant opposition to the Central Government’s policies in this respect in consequence, the Committee stated, human rights abuses were being constantly perpetrated against the Chakmas in Arunachal Pradesh. In respect of this complaint, too, the Commission called for reports from the State Government and the Home Ministry.

The State Government stated that there is no threat to the life and property of members of the two communities in question and that an adequate police force has been deployed to protect them. The Home Ministry reported that the State Government had been advised to ensure normalcy in the law and order situation as also to supply needed essential commodities and medical facilities to the Chakma and Hajong refugees. As regards the granting of citizenship to them, the Home Ministry reported that the matter was under consideration, in consultation with the State Government.

The Chairperson addressed a further letter on 7 December 1994 to the Union Home Minister and also to the Chief Minister, Arunachal Pradesh, stressing the need to provide adequate protection to the members of these two communities with a view not only towards instilling a sense of safety and security in their minds but also in order to ensure that their human rights were fully respected.


Enhanched compensation to persons affected by the activities of extremists in Andhra Pradesh

During the Commission’s visit to certain districts in Andhra Pradesh in August 1994, a number of representations were received by the Commission from the victims of Naxalite and extremist activities. A majority of these representations sought adequate compensation to the next of kin of the deceased, or for those permanently disabled or seriously injured at the hands of extremists. A number of other petitioners sought profection for their life and property, consequent upon violence resulting from the actions of extremists.

By an order of the Government of Andhra Pradesh issued on 2 April 1991, compensation to victims of Naxalite violence was paid at the rate of Rs. 25,000/- in case of death, Rs. 10,000/- in case of permanent incapacitation, and Rs. 5,000/- in case of injury. The Commission discussed this issue with the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, stressing the inadequacy of these levels of compensation. The Commission impressed upon him the need to increase the amounts on the lines of a similar scheme existing in Punjab. As a result of this discussion, the State Government issued an Order on 20 August 1994 enhancing the compensation to Rs. 50,000/-, 20,000/- and 10,000/- in respect of the three situations mentioned above, with the order to come into effect from 1 April 1994.

The Commission, however, in its proceedings held in September 1994, insisted that a uniform rate of compensation be adopted in respect of the three situations, namely, death, permanent disablement and serious injury, irrespective of and without reference to the date of occurrence of the event on the ground. It was of the view that a "widow" of a person killed on 31.1.1994 and another killed on 1.4.1994 should stand on no different footing:. The State Government thereafter amended its Order on 21 November 1994 providing for payment of the enhanced compensation of Rs. 50,000/- in all cases of death, effective from 1 January 1991 instead of 1 April 1994.

The Commission them took up 616 petitions which had been received by it during its visit to Andhra Pradesh, and that requested enhanced compensations. It forwarded these complaints to the Collectors of Karimnagar, Nalgonda, Warangal and Medak districts with a direction to pay the compensations, at the enhanced rates, to the affected petitioners of their respective districts, before 31 March 1995. Action-taken reports from the Collectors of these districts are awaited.

Another batch of 140 petitions were forwarded by the Commission to the State Government with the direction that necessary protection be provided to the petitioners against extremist violence. The State Government had sent a report recently, furnishing a statement giving the details of the protection provided to these petitioners.


Complaint of Dr. Subramanian Swamy, President, Janata Party, alleging systematic denial of permission to him and to his party, by the Government of Tamil Nadu, to hold public meetings in the State

On receipt of a complaint from Dr. Subramanian Swamy, President, Janata Party alleging the systematic denial of permission to him and to his party, by the Government of Tamil Nadu and its officers, to hold public meetings in the State, the Commission fixed 17 February 1995 as a date of hearing. Notices were accordingly issued to both the parties, namely, the complainant Dr. Subramanian Swamy and the State of the Tamil Nadu. The complainant appeared in person on the said date, but there was no appearance on behalf of the State of Tamil Nadu. On the basis of the papers available, the matter was disposed of by the Commission by its order of 24 February 1995 with the following recommendations:

a) application made for permission should ordinarily be disposed of within three days of making;

b) permission granted could be recalled, if there be sufficient and justifiable cause of be stated;

c) in such cases, where request for permission is not intended to be accorded, the applicant may be given an opportunity of interacting of with the authority either in person or through writing;

d) granting of permission should be the rule, subject to the requirement of maintenance of law and order.

The Commission has been informed by the complainant that the recommendations issued by it are now being followed by the State Government.


Year 1995-96

End to discriminatory treatment in the remission of unexpired portion of life sentence in Orissa

Upon the intervention of the Commission, the Orissa Government has remitted the unexpired portion of thesentence passed on a life convict, Gopal Banerjee, and has ordered his release. The wife of Gopal Banerjee complained to be Commission stating that discriminatory treatment was shown by the Orissa Government in regard to her husband’s premature release.

In a sessions trial in 1975, four persons, Gopal Banerjee, Ashit Dey, Amulya Rai and one other were convicted and were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Sessions Judge of Cuttack, Gopal Banerjee was lodged in cusody at the Dum Dum Central Jail, Calcutta. Ashit Dey and Amulya Rai were released prematurely in 1989 and 1993 respectively, upon the State Government remitting the unexpired portion of their sentence.

In response to a writ petition filed by the wife of Gopal Banerjee in 1992, the Supreme Court had asked the Orissa Government to take a decision on his release. Thereupon, the StateGovernment, which considered the mercy petition of Smt. Gopal Banerjee praying for premature release of her husband, had rejected the same.

The Commission examined the matter following an application of Smt. Gopal Banerjee and felt that the State Government’s stand in the case affected the right to equlity of treatment.

The Chairperson of the Commission, in a letter to the Chief Minsiter of Orissa, drew his attention to the fact that Gopal Banerjee, like the other co-accused, was from West Bengal. As he had spent more than 20 years in a jail situated in another State, there was no occasion for the Orissa police to make any assessment of the possible impact of his release prematurely. While considering the claim of Gopal Banerjeefor premature release, the fact that two other co-accusedhad been so released, had perhaps not been kept in view, the letter noted. The State Government responded in December 1995 saying that the unexpired portion of the sentence passed on Gopal Banerjee has been remitted, and orders passedfor his release.


Compensation to the next of kin of riot victims in Gujarat

Upon the intervention of the Commission, a sum of Rs. 2,00,000/- was sanctioned to the heirs of Gulab Nabi Bandey and Zahir Ahmad Bandey, who died in communal riots in Surat, Gujarat, following the demolition of Babri Masjid.

The Commission received arepresentation from Bashir Ahmed Mir of Jammu & Kashmir stating that thedeceasedwere his relatives and that they were trading in Kashmiri shawls in Surat, Gujarat where they were killed in communal riots which broke out in December 1993.

Giving details of the efforts made by him to find the where abouts of his uncle and cousin, Bashir Ahmed Mir complained of inaction on the part of the concerned government authorities and prolonged delay in the dispensation of justice.

The Commission issued notices to the Jammu & Kashmir Government and to the Gujarat Government. The Home Department of Gujarat reported to the Commission that the matter pertained to the Revenue Department and that it was transmitting the papers to the latter for necessary action.

As no response came from the State Government for about four months, the Commission issued summons to the Chief Secretary and the Revenue Secretary to appear in person before the Commission, which they did. Following that hearing, the Gujarat Government reported to the Commission that ex-gratia payment of Rs, 2,00,000/- had been sanctioned to each of the heirs of the decased.


Year 1997-98

Release of foreign nationals in Indian jails

A complaint was received from Shri Sazwara Khan and four other nationals of Pakistan, alleging that they were confined illegally and unconstitutionally by the Government of Rajasthan under Section 100 Cr.P.C. and were confined in different jails of Rajasthan. The Commission took cognizance of the matter and issued notice to the Government of Rajasthan and the Government of India.

The External Affairs Ministry vide its communication dated 24 December 1997 intimated that the Government had decided to repatriate Shri Sazwara Khan in view of his advanced age.


Right to form Association: State Government’s orders prohibiting teachers and other faculty members of Universities from associating with Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC) : Andhra Pradesh

The Commission received a number of complaints from NGOs and academic institutions from India and abroad stating that the Government of Andhra Pradesh issued a circular ordering universities to prevent teachers and other faculty members of Universities from associating themselves with the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC). It was alleged that such a directive was violative of the Freedom of Association and Political Rights. Five academics of Osmania Krishnadevaraya and Nagarjuna Universities were asked to resign from the membership of APCLC, a non-governmental organisation. The State Government had issued such a direction, apparently based on a rule that bars university employees from participating in political activities. It was stated by the NGOs that membership of a human rights organisation could not be construed as political activity.

The Commission took cognizance of the matter and issued notice to the Chief Secretary, Andhra Pradesh. In response to the notice from the Commission, the Secretary, Department of Higher Education, Government of Andhra Pradesh sent a communication to the Commission informing it that the Government had reviewed the whole matter and decided not to take any further action in pursuance of the letter issued by the Education Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh.


Killing of 29 bus passengers in Peren Sub-Division: Nagaland

Proceedings in this case were initiated on a communication from the Chairperson of the Assam State Human Rights Commission. This related to an incident in which 29 persons had lost their lives in an attack by certain insurgent elements when the latter intercepted a Dimapur bound passenger-bus and opened indiscriminate fire on the passengers. On notice being issued, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, submitted a report. The report did not dispute that the deaths occurred as a result of violent activities of insurgents. On examination of the report, the Commission considered it reasonable to infer that the State Government had failed to protect the lives of these innocent citizens. It further observed that the State Government itself had sanctioned ex-gratia relief of Rs.10,000/- to the dependents of the deceased and Rs.5,000/- to those severely injured and Rs.2,500/- to those who had sustained minor injuries.

The Commission felt that ex-gratia payment of Rs.10,000/- sanctioned to each of the families of the deceased was not adequate; and recommended to the State Government that it enhance the quantum of ex-gratia relief from Rs.10,000/- to Rs.50,000/- to the families of the 29 persons killed in the incident and make the payment accordingly.

The State Government of Nagaland intimated that the amounts of ex-gratia payments of Rs.50,000/- each to the next to kin of 28 victims have since been made on 1.4.1998.


Year 1998-99

Protection of right of victims in cases of industrial hazards: Uttar Pradesh (Case No.19900/24/97-98)

The petitioner, Ms. Subhashini Ali, drew the attention of the Commission to the occurrence of a ghastly incident in the factory premises of Jyoti capsules on 4 January 1998 in Kanpur, in which 8 workers had lost their lives. The accident occurred due to an explosion caused by the leakage of an inflammable chemical, hexane. The petitioner alleged that the factory had resumed production without taking due care of safety conditions.

The Special Rapporteur of the Commission investigated the case and stated that the accident was the result of criminal negligence by the factory owner in handling and storing explosive chemicals and that he had failed to maintain safe working conditions in the factory. A major contributory factor was supervisory lapse on the part of the Inspectorate of Factories. The Commission directed the Government of Uttar Pradesh to finalise criminal cases registered against the owner and also ordered that the factory should not be permitted to resume production without complying with all safety requirements. The Labour Department of the Government was directed to investigate the reasons for the supervisory lapse and to penalise the culprits. The District Magistrate, Kanpur was directed to ensure early payment of all financial benefits in case of death and injuries. The intervention of the Commission brought about the award of immediate relief of Rs. 5000/- each to the victims apart from the compensation which was sanctioned to them by the State.

COMMENT

The Directive Principles contained in Art. 48A of the Constitution direct the State to endeavour to protect and improve the environment.

Principle 13 of the UN Declaration on Environment and Development (Rio Declaration, 1992) proclaims that States shall develop national laws regarding liability and compensation for the victims of pollution and other environmental damage. The Public Liability Insurance Act 1991 is in consonance with the spirit of principle 13 of the Rio Declaration, in as much as it aims at providing for public liability insurance for the purpose of providing immediate relief to persons affected by accident occurring while handling any hazardous substance or matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Under the Act, any person handling any hazardous substance is required to take out insurance policies so that he is insured against liability to give relief in case of death or injury to a person, or damage to any property, arising from an accident occurring while handling any hazardous substance. This Act has been enacted subsequent to the Bhopal Gas leak disaster where MIC leaked from the plant of Union Carbide India Ltd. and caused the death of over 3000 persons and serious injuries to a large number of others.

It is important to mention here that in the case brought before the Commission by Ms. Subhashini Ali, negligence was involved on the part of the factory owner. In such cases, exemplary compensation and damages are to be awarded to the victims. The Supreme Court of India has modified the English rule of strict liability in M.C. Mehta vs. UOI (AIR 1987 S.C. 1087) and has laid down the concept of ‘absolute liability’ in the case of industrial hazards, even though there might not have been any negligence on the part of the enterprise owner. By providing additional relief and ordering the expeditious criminal trial of the culprits, the Commission has kept in mind the constitutional obligations of the State and also the UN Declaration on the Environment and Developments.


Year 1999-2000

Negligence of a Medical Officer : Uttar Pradesh Case No.7122/24/98-99

Smt. Ram Kumari in her complaint to the Commission stated that her late husband, Shri Krishan Kumar, died in a road accident when his truck collided with a tree and caught fire thereafter. The police prepared an inquest report and sent the burnt body of her husband for post-mortem to Rai Bareilly. A team of three doctors performed the autopsy of the dead body on 17 May 1998 but were unable to give an opinion on the cause and time of death and, therefore, sought the opinion of the State Medico-Legal Expert. The opinion was delayed by six months, as a result of which the complainant was made to rush from Allahabad to Rai Bareilly to plead with the authorities to hand over the remains of her husband’s dead body for performing the last rites. The complainant sought the Commission’s assistance in getting the dead body released early.

In response to a notice issued by the Commission, the Special Secretary (Medical), Government of Uttar Pradesh, by his letter dated 28 December 1998 admitted the delay in the submission of papers to the Medico-Legal Expert. The Medico-Legal Expert examined the case and found radio opaque shadows of metallic density and referred the matter for examination to check for presence of gunpowder. However, these papers remained lying in the office for about three months. The report of the Medico-Legal Expert also indicated certain deficiencies in the inquest report, site-plan and photographs of the truck. After the report, the bodily remains of the deceased were re-examined on 13 January 1999 by the Chief Medical Officer, Rae Bareilly who did not find metallic particles as indicated in the report of the Medico-Legal Expert.

A supplementary report was filed by the Special Secretary (Medical), Government of Uttar Pradesh stating that the remains of the deceased were handed over to the complainant on 15 February 1999. By a final report dated 19 April 1999, the Commission was informed that the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Rae Bareilly was found negligent for not obtaining the Medico Legal Expert Report promptly. An adverse remark had also been noted in his confidential file.

From the reports, the Commission noted that the bodily remains of the deceased were handed over to the complainant nine months after the death; this had resulted in mental agony to her and forced her to rush to Rai Bareilly to contact the authorities. The Commission held that this avoidable delay was directly attributable to the gross negligence of the State authorities at different levels. In the circumstances, the Commission recommended the payment of interim compensation of Rs.10,000/- to the complainant by the Government of Uttar Pradesh within two months. The State Government has since paid the compensation.


Death of an innocent person owing to negligence of State Electricity Board : Bihar Case No. 2010/4/98-99

The Commission received a complaint from Smt. Ranjana Singh alias Ranju, a resident of Daltonganj, Palamu, Bihar alleging that on 2 August 1996, her husband Satyabrat Narain Singh came in contact with a live electric wire lying in front of Morehouse, Patna as a result of which he was electrocuted and died. She attributed the death of her husband to the negligence of the Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB). She also stated that BSEB had failed to award her any compensation though in a similar case the Supreme Court had awarded compensation. The complainant stated that she was facing an acute financial crisis and was on the verge of starvation and was unable to meet the expenditure required for the education of her minor sons. She sought an inquiry into the matter and award of suitable compensation to her.

In response to the notice, the Government of Bihar in its report stated that the late Satyabrat Narain Singh, husband of the complainant, died of electrocution at Rajinder Nagar, Patna for which a case dated 5 August 1996 was registered in Kadam Kuan Police Station, Patna. The report also brought out that the post-mortem on the body of the deceased was conducted at Patna Medical College and Hospital and that the cause of death was stated to be electrocution. The report of the Secretary, BSEB confirmed that the L.T. line and live wire of the Transmission/Distribution line of the Bihar State Electricity Board was broken due to a heavy storm on 2 August 1996 and that Shri Satyabrat Narain Singh touched the live wire and died due to electrocution. The report also stated that no compensation was paid to the wife of the deceased by the BSEB, as her husband died following a natural calamity.

The Commission noted that there was no material on record to show that the storm, which had allegedly led to the breaking of the live wire, was of such intensity or unprecedented severity in nature that the concerned authorities responsible for the installation and maintenance of the transmission/ distribution lines could not have foreseen a storm of the intensity that occurred. On the contrary, all transmission/ distribution lines lying there, by their very hazardous nature, were expected to have been so installed as to withstand the vagaries of nature/ weather like rain, high velocity wind/storm, etc. Even if it were assumed that the storm was in fact of such a high intensity as could have broken the live wire, the Commission observed that an imperative obligation was cast upon the concerned authorities to take immediate measures to switch off the power so as to prevent disastrous consequences. There was also nothing on record to show that adequate safeguards were taken by the BSEB to guard the live wire of the transmission/distribution line falling on the ground, even if it had broken down as a result of the alleged storm. The authorities of the State Electricity Board had a duty to see that the live wire was removed immediately and/or that the power was switched off so as to make a public place safe. The Commission thus noted that there was a clear breach of duty on the part of the State Electricity Board which had resulted in the death of Shri Satyabrat Narain Singh. The Commission was, therefore, of the opinion that the State and Electricity Board Authorities were liable to the victim for damages.

The Commission accordingly recommended a compensation of Rs. 2,00,000 to the wife of the deceased by way of immediate interim relief, without prejudice or detriment to her right to claim damages under the civil law. However, in case such a claim is put forth, the Commission said that the concerned adjudicatory authority might take into account the payment of the above interim relief to the complainant while awarding damages. Further, the Bihar State Electricity Board was directed to constitute an inquiry into the matter and to frame adequate regulations/ guidelines to take appropriate and prompt measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents involving human life.

The compliance report with regard to the payment of compensation has been received in the Commission.

COMMENT

In Manohar Lal Sobha Ram Gupta vs. M.P. Electricity Board (1975 ACJ 494), the High Court held that it was negligence to omit to use all reasonable means to keep electricity from harming a person. The standard of care required was held to be high owing to the inherently dangerous nature of electricity, and the burden of proving that there was no negligence was on the authorities. The principle was reiterated in Angoori Devi vs. Municipal Corporation, Delhi (AIR 1998 Delhi 305) and in Padma Behari vs. Orissa State Electricity Board (AIR 1992 Orissa 68).

The main plank of defence of the State Government and BSEB was that it was an Act of God (Vis major). The Commission was, however, of the considered view that the said defence was not available to them for the following reasons :

(a) Act of God (Vis major) is defined to be such a direct, violent, sudden and irresistible act of nature as could not, by any amount of ability, have been foreseen, or if foreseen, could not by any amount of human care and skill have been resisted.

(b) Vis major, to afford a defence, must be the proximate cause, the causa causans, and not merely a causa quanon of the damage complained of. The mere fact that vis major co-existed with or followed on the negligence is not an adequate defence. Before an Act of God may be admitted as an excuse, the defendant must himself have done all that he was bound to do.

A more stringent rule of strict liability than the rule in Rylands vs. Fletcher was laid down by the Supreme Court recently in the case of M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India. The case related to the harm caused by escape of Oleum gas from one of the units of Shriram Foods and Fertilizer Industries. The Court held that the rule of Rylands vs. Fletcher which was evolved in the 19th century did not fully meet the needs of a modern industrial society with highly developed scientific knowledge and technology where hazardous or inherently dangerous industries were necessary to be carried on as part of the development programme and that it was necessary to lay down a new rule to adequately deal with problems arising in an industrialised economy. The Court laid down the rule as follows: Where an enterprise is engaged in a hazardous or inherently dangerous activity and harm results to anyone on account of an incident in the operation of such hazardous or inherently dangerous activity resulting, for example, in escape of toxic gas, the enterprise is strictly and absolutely liable to compensate all those who are affected by the accident and such liability is not subject to any of the exceptions which operate vis-à-vis the tortuous principle of strict liability under the rule in Rylands vs. Fletcher. The Court earlier pointed out that this duty is 'absolute and non-delegable' and the enterprise cannot escape liability by showing that it had taken all reasonable care and there was no negligence on its part. The bases of the new rule as indicated by the Supreme Court are two: (1) If an enterprise is permitted to carry on an hazardous or inherently dangerous activity for its profit, the law must presume that such permission is conditional on the enterprise absorbing the cost of any incident (including indemnification of all those who suffer harm in the accident) arising on account of such hazardous or inherently dangerous activity as an appropriate item of its over-heads; and (2) the enterprise alone has the resources to discover and guard against hazardous or dangers and to provide warning against potential hazards. (AIR 1987 SC 965).


Year 2000-01

Killing of 35 Members of Sikh Community in Anantnag District of Jammu & Kashmir by Militants.(Case No. 206/9/1999-2000)

The Commission took suo motu cognizance of a newspaper report in ‘The Times of India’ dated 22 March 2000 in respect of the killing of 35 persons of the Sikh community in Anantnag District, Jammu & Kashmir by militants.

Upon notice being issued to the State Government, a report was received saying that a Commission of Inquiry consisting of Justice Shri S.R. Pandian, a retired Judge of Supreme Court, had been appointed by the Government of Jammu & Kashmir to enquire into causes and circumstances leading to the event of firing on 3 April 2000 which led to the death of 8 persons, justification for use of force and fixation of responsibility for use of excessive force, if any.

On considering this report, the Commission observed that Justice Pandian Commission of Inquiry had not been mandated to enquire into either the incident of 20 March 2000 in respect of the massacre of 35 innocent Sikhs or the incident of 25 March 2000 in which reportedly 5 foreign mercenaries were killed by the Security Forces.

A subsequent report submitted by the Director General of Police, Jammu & Kashmir indicated that a case had been registered in respect of the killing of the 35 Sikhs and that investigation was in progress. The report further indicated that, of the twenty accused persons identified in connection with the killing of 35 Sikhs, 6 were killed in subsequent encounters; 2 were further detained under the Public Safety Act and 12 were absconding. A chargesheet had been filed in the case on 13 November 2000. The report stated that three Pakistan nationals belonging to Lashkar-e-Toiba had confessed their involvement in the killings. The State Government had made adequate security arrangements for the protection of villagers residing in vulnerable areas and provided an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 1 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs. 75,000 to those permanently disabled.

The Commission had directed the State Government to furnish a report on the action taken on the findings and recommendations of the Justice Shri S.R.Pandian Commission, as well as to furnish a progress in respect of the case before CJM Anantnag in respect of the killings of 5 persons on 5 March 2000, allegedly in a fake encounter.

The State Government in its letter dated 4 July 2001, informed the Commission that it had decided to accept the report of the Justice S.R.Pandian Committee of Inquiry in toto, in terms of the recommendations of the Commission. It further informed the Commission that the concerned personnel of Jammu and Kashmir police personnel had been formally charge sheeted and a full fledged departmental enquiry was being conducted. The State Government added thazt an FIR had been registered against them and that a special team of investigators had been appointed to complete the investigation. In respect of the police personnel of the Central Security Forces, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, had been requested to take disciplinary action. Ex-gratia relief at Rs. 1 lakh to the next-of-kin of each of the deceased, and at Rs.5,000/- per head to the injured persons, had been paid by the concerned District Magistrate.

In view of this report, the Commission closed the case before it in its proceedings recorded on 25 July 2002.


Year 2001-02

Death due to Electrocution — Strict Liability of the State: Jharkhand (Case No.1509/4/2000-2001)

The Commission took cognisance of a complaint from Maku Murmur, resident of Dumka, Jharkhand alleging that her husband, Babu Ram, had died on 9 July 2000 as a result of being electrocuted by a live transmission wire. She stated that the death was the result of negligence of the Bihar State Electricity Board.

Upon a notice sent to the Chairman, Bihar State Electricity Board as well as to the District Magistrate, Dumka, it was confirmed that the victim had died after being electrocuted. It was, however, contended that a severe storm had occurred on the date of the incident and that deceased might have come into contact with the electricity wires, which would have fallen to the ground because of the storm and rain. It was stated that the death had not resulted from the fault of any person of the electricity department or any other authority.

The Commission, while over-ruling the contentions of the State, held that the Bihar State Electricity Board could not be absolved of its responsibility of properly maintaining the whole system; that rain and storms were not an unusual phenomenon and care was needed to avoid such situations. Accordingly, the Commission in its proceedings dated 29 August 2001 issued a notice to the State of Bihar to show cause why immediate interim relief u/s 18(3) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 be not awarded to the petitioner.

The Bihar State Electricity Board sought a review of the matter on two grounds, namely, (i) that the State of Bihar had been bifurcated with the formation of the State of Jharkhand with effect from 15 November 2000 and that this had transferred the liability to the State of Jharkhand; and, (ii) that the death of Babu Ram Tudu was in an accident, resulting from heavy rains and a storm which led to the snapping of a hightension wire and the lowering of its height.

The Commission did not find any justification in these submissions. In a decision of 11 January 2002, it referred to the doctrine of strict liability recognised and applied by the Apex Court in a similar situation in the case of M.P. Electricity Board vs. Shail Kumari and Others. The Commission accordingly recommended the payment of Rs.2 lakhs by the Bihar State Electricity Board as immediate interim relief u/s 18(3) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 to the next of kin of the deceased.

As regards the bifurcation of the State of Bihar following the creation of the State of Jharkhand, the Commission held that this was now a matter for adjustment between the two States, it did not however exonerate the State of Bihar of its liability to a third party, which had been incurred on a date prior to bifurcation of the State.

In view of the compliance report received from the Bihar State Electricity Board, the case was closed on 29 January 2003.


Cases where decision of the Commission has been upheld by Court — Shri Mohammed Khan: Haryana (Case No.7/21/96-LD)

This case relates to a complaint received from one Sher Mohammed Khan, alleging beating and torture at the hands of police officials in Gurgaon, Haryana. The Commission called for a report from the DGP, Haryana and after considering the report, recommended on 20 February 1998 that a case be registered against the SHO Police Station, Sadar, Gurgaon and compensation in the amount of Rs.25,000 be paid to the complainant. Feeling aggrieved by the recommendation of the Commission, Shri Sheodan Singh, the then SHO PS Sadar, Gurgaon, filed a petition Crl. Misc. No.12078/98 — Sheodan Singh vs. State of Haryana and others before the High Court of Punjab and Haryana. The High Court, by its order dated 30 November 2000, dismissed the petition directing that it would be wholly inappropriate to exercise the extraordinary jurisdiction of the court u/s 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in the instant case. Shri Sheodan Singh then moved a special leave petition in the Supreme Court against the order of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana in Crl. Misc. No.12078 - M/1998. The Supreme Court took the view that since the police had registered an FIR against Shri Sheodan Singh, and that FIR had been transformed into a final report and the Magistrate had taken action on the said final report, it did not feel inclined to interfere in the matter and disposed of it accordingly. The amount of compensation has since been paid by the State Government.

Year 2002-2003

Death due to Electrocution(Case No.17324/24/1999-2000)

The Commission received a complaint dated 16 October 1999 from Smt. Leelawati, a resident of District Unnao, Uttar Pradesh alleging that on 31 May 1997, an electric pole in her village fell on her and her son Govind. This resulted in the death of her son and grievous injuries to her, leading to the amputation of a hand, making her permanently disabled. She had been paid a mere Rs.20,000/- for the death of her only son and Rs.12,000/- for the injuries suffered by her, in March 1999. A prayer was made for an independent investigation into the negligence of the Electricity Department and payment of adequate compensation.
Upon notice being issued to the Chairman, Uttar Pradesh State Electricity Board, a report was received indicating that the amount of compensation paid was in conformity with a circular/guidelines of July 1996. The report, however, denied that the electric pole had either fallen on the ground, or on the petitioner and her son. The death of Govind and the permanent disability suffered by the complainant were, however, not disputed. The Commission held that the fact that some compensation had been paid according to the rules of the Electricity Board was, in itself, sufficient acknowledgement of the negligence of the Electricity Department for this incident. The Commission observed that, apparently, proper care was not taken to prevent the occurrence of such incidents. As the facts made out a clear case of violation of the human rights of the petitioner and her son, a show cause notice was issued to the Chairman, Uttar Pradesh State electricity Board to show cause as to why immediate interim relief under Section 18(3) of Act be not granted.
As no reply was received within the time stipulated, the Commission took the view that doctrine of strict liability enunciated by the Apex Court in the case M.P.State Electricity Board Vs Sahil Kumari & others, (AIR 2002 SC 551) applied to this case. The Commission therefore held that the payment of compensation in the amount of Rs.20,000/- for the death of Govind and Rs.12,000/- for disability caused to the complainant, Smt. Leelawati, was grossly inadequate in the circumstances of the case. In its proceedings of 26 August 2002, the Commission therefore directed the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd to pay an amount of Rs.2,00,000 on both counts as appropriate immediate interim relief under Section 18(3) of the Act. The amount was to be in addition to the total sum of Rs.32,000/- already paid to the complainant. The General Manager, U.P. Power Corporation Ltd., by his letter dated 31 December 2002, reported compliance with the Commission’s directions.
 

Harassment of Shri Kumpampadom thoman Skaria, by an Immigration Officer at the Mumbai Airport: Maharahstra (Case No.263/13/2000-2001)

The Commission received a complaint on 25 February 2000 from Shri Kumpampadom Thomas Skaria, a citizen of the United States of America of Indian origin, stating that he had arrived at Mumbai Airport on 6 March 1999 to attend to the last rites of his father who had passed away in Kerala. Despite his passport and visa being in order, he stated he was harassed by the Immigration Officer on the grounds that his entry visa had been tampered with. He was not allowed to visit his native village in Kerala, but was sent back to the USA from Mumbai airport itself. He added that, a result, he suffered great mental agony and torture and incurred a huge financial loss.
Upon notice being issued, a report was received from the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi. It stated that the visa issued by the Indian Embassy in Washington DC to Shri Skaria on 19 August 1998 contained a hand written correction of the date by the visa Clerk, a local employee of the Embassy. Since this was a human error, without any malafide intention, the Deputy Chief of Mission, by his letter dated 3 November 1999, had apologized to the complainant for the inconvenience caused to him. The Ministry added that the Immigration Officer appeared to have acted on the suspicion that Shri Skaria had altered the visa, although he had traveled to India on the same visa earlier without any problem.
The Commission observed that the complainant was refused entry for no fault of his own and that, too, when he had come to attend his father’s funeral. He had thus indeed suffered great mental agony, indignity and financial loss due to the insensitivity and callousness of the officers on duty. The Ministry of External Affairs was therefore asked to show cause, within 6 weeks, as to why immediate interim relief be not granted to the complainant under Section 18(3) of the Act.
In view of the prima facie case against the delinquent public servants viz., the Immigration Officer and a senior Police Officer, a show cause notice was also issued to them to show cause as to why action to be recommended against them.
Upon receiving the response of the concerned Government departments, the Commission reiterated that the petitioner had been refused entry for no fault of his at a time when he had come to attend his father’s funeral. The Commission, therefore, stressed the need to make amends to assuage the hurt feelings of the petitioner. The petitioner was also informed of the status of the case. The commission, therefore, held a hearing in which all the concerned Ministries and officials concerned were present.
On 12 June 2002, the Commission heard the explanations offered by the officers present at the hearing and, in particular, those who were involved at the state of immigration in Mumbai and whose actions led to the unfortunate incident. The Commission indicated to them a that it was not satisfied with the explanations given by them in regard to the conduct of the immigration officers at Mumbai and that it would proceed to make its recommendations in this matter unless the Government of India wanted to reconsider its stand in the light of these facts of the case and offer a fresh response to the show-cause notice given to it under section 18(3) of the Act.
On 31 July 2002, the Commission noted that instructions have been issued to the immigration authorities to prevent the repetition of such unfortunate incidents in the future. The Commission also noted that a decision had been taken to offer a free return air-package to the complainant and his wife to visit his native place in Kerala and relatives in India. The report further added that the modalities were being worked out in consultation with the concerned departments. The proceedings are continuing.
 

Measures to prevent deaths due to starvation: Orissa (Case No.37/3/97-LD)

 Earlier annual reports of the Commission have recounted, in great detail, the efforts of the Commission since 1996 to deal with allegations of deaths by starvation in the ‘KBK” districts of Orissa and the remit of the Supreme Court to the Commission to pursue and monitor this matter.
In its annual report for the year 2001-2002, the Commission had narrated the efforts and achievements that had been made in respect of certain interim measures undertaken by the KBK Districts in regard to programmes relating to Rural Water Supply & Sanitation (RWSS), Primary Health Care, Social Security Schemes, the Soil Conservation Programme, the Rural Development Programme and Afforestation.
In the course of the year 2002-2003, two hearings were held on the issues raised by this case. In the first hearing, held on 10 October 2002, the Commission considered then Action Taken report submitted by the Government of Orissa with regard to the points raised in the report of the Special Rapporteur, Shri Chaman Lal, based on his visit to the KBK Districts from 14-22 November 2001. The commission also considered a submission made by one of the petitioners, Dr. Amrita Rangasami, Director, Centre for the Study of Administration of Relief, on the nature of the constitutional right involved in the present case and the apparent inconsistency between the policies being pursued by the State Government and that right.
At the end of the hearing, the Commission directed the State Government to submit a comprehensive response to the issues that have been raised and asked Shri Jayant Das, Senior Advocate, Government of Orissa, to arrange a meeting of the Chief Secretary, Orissa with Dr. A. Rangasami and the Special Rapporteur of the Commission in order to arrive at a consensus on the points that had been raised. A meeting was accordingly held in Bhubaneshwar on 5 December 2002 which proved to be very useful.
In the second hearing of the case, held on 7 January 2003, the Commission noted with satisfaction the completion of the tasks and objectives given to the State Government and touched upon the long-term measures to find a permanent solution to the problem of recurring drought and deprivation in the KBK area.
The Commission took note of the Long Term Action Plan launched by the Government of Orissa in 1995-96 to accelerate the pace of development in the KBK districts, which was subsequently altered and re-named the Revised Long Term Action Plan (RLTAP). The RLTAP focuses on 11 key sectors of Rural Development: Agriculture, Horticulture, Watershed Development, Afforestation, Rural Employment, Irrigation, Health Emergency Feeding, Rural Drinking Water Supply, Rural Connectivity and Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The RLTAP has been prepared to cover the period from 1998-99 to 2006-07 and has three objectives: drought proofing, development saturation and poverty alleviation, and improvement in the quality of life of the people in the KBK region.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the Commission considered it appropriate to forward to the Government of India the requests of the State Government that:
• The RLTAP should be made an integral part of the Tenth Plan document and accorded formal approval in its entirety;
• The year-wise availability of funds should be indicated for the entire Tenth Plan period and funds should be released well in advance in order to obviate the ad-hoc nature of the current arrangements.
The Commission has also supported the State Government’s request that the KBK region of Orissa should be considered for Special Category Status in view of the persistent problems of chronic destitution, hunger, ill-health, poverty and unemployment affecting much of its population. In addition, the Commission endorsed the suggestion of Shri Sanjay Parikh, Counsel for the petitioners, that a comprehensive system be evolved to monitor the execution of the action plan in an open and transparent manner.

 

Year 2003-2004

Medical Treatment to XXX, an HIV Positive patient at LNJP Hospital: New Delhi (Case No:1698/30/2003-2004)

The Commission received a complaint dated 18 September 2003 XXX, an HIV positive patient stating that he had been denied treatment both by the Government and non-government hospitals. He also alleged that he had got dialysis conducted at the Apollo Hospital, New Delhi after incurring a huge expenditure but no surgery was performed to remove the stones at the Apollo Hospital. After his admission to All India Institute of Medical Sciences, he was discharged after 15 days. He complained that during his stay at the Lok Narayan Jaiprakash Hospital from 2 September 2003 to 9 September 2003 he was again refused dialysis.
In response to the Commission’s notice, the Medical Superintendent, AIIMS submitted a report stating that the patient was examined by Urologist and Nephrologist on various occasions and was found clinically stable and did not require dialysis immediately during his admission. His real function too showed an improvement and was consistent with standard clinical care. The patient was discharged only when his condition was found to be stable and was asked to report after 15 days for review and follow-up but he did not report again.
The Superintendent LNJP Hospital had also sent a report together with the updated status and progress report of the patient Surjit Singh.
Upon considering the progress report, the Commission found that subsequent to the intervention by the Commission, treatment had been given to the patient and he was being given proper medical treatment and no further action by the Commission at this stage was called for.
However, the Commission, informed the Medical Superintendent LNJP Hospital that it would continue to give proper treatment of Surjit Singh and other such HIV positive patients and that hospital should continue to offer proper treatment to the poor patients so that they may not approach the Commission in future. With this direction to matter was closed by the Commission.
 

Intimation from IG(Prison) Delhi Regarding Prisoner Shri Charanjeet (Case No: 3628/30/2001-2002)

The Commission received a letter from the office of the Director General Prisons, Delhi stating that an under-trial prisoner, Charanjit Singh, had been languishing in the Tihar Jail since 28 October 1985. The prison authorities had observed that the prisoner had already spent around 16 years in jail and even if he was convicted, his case would have to be placed before the Government for premature release. They also stated that there was no one to stand surety for him and that he was mentally frail.
Deeply concerned by the need to protect the human rights of this undertrial prisoner, the Commission decided to file an application in the High Court of Delhi under section 482 Cr.P.C. seeking the quashing of the trial in view of the inordinate delay in reaching a conclusion. The Commission asked Ms. Meenakshi Arora, Advocate, to file an application in this regard. On 7 November 2002, the High Court of Delhi allowed the intervention application and directed the counsel to furnish a list of organizations to whom custody of the accused could be entrusted. The matter was then taken up the commission with the Department of Social welfare, Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, which suggested the name of “Care Foundation”. However, the “Care Foundation” informed the Commission that they did not have any residential facilities for the rehabilitation of such persons.
The High Court then issued directions that Charanjit Singh be transferred to the Institute of Human Behaviour and Applied Sciences, Shadhra for treatment. Subsequently, he was taken to LNJP Hospital and Deen Dayal Uphadyay Hospital. As the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences indicated that it was not interested in keeping Charanjit Singh, the High Court of Delhi asked the Commission to identify appropriate institution/organization where he could be kept. The Commission, accordingly, identified VIMHAS and Helpage India as possible institutions, and held consultation with them.
Pursuant to the Commission’s efforts, VIMHANS agreed to extend medical facilities and treatment, free of cost, to Charanjit Singh and Help Age India too offered to take over the petitioner and accommodate him in their half-way home or old-age home free of cost after VIMHANS certified that the condition of the patient was stable. The offer of VIMHANS and Helpage India were brought to the attention of the High Court by the Commission.
The High Court subsequently issued notice to VIMHANS and Helpage India to ascertain their consent. When this was confirmed by these two organizations, the High Court issued directions on 31 July 2003 to shift Charanjit Singh to VIMHANS within one week. The High Court also directed that in the event of any medical emergency arising which cannot be treated at VIMHANS, Charanjit Singh could be taken to any other Government Hospital or Apollo Hospital or Batra Hospital, which shall treat him without any charge. The High Court exempted Charanjit Singh from any further personal appearance before the trial court and asked the jail authorities to submit a report on his medical status to the trial court. In view of the order of the High Court dated 31 July 2003, the case was closed by the Commission.
 

Power Department’s Negligence Kills Five Year Old Boy: Goa (Case No: 33/5/2000-2001/FC)

Cyril Fernandes, Human Rights Monitoring Society, Goa had sent a newspaper clipping of Gomantak Times dated 25.8.2000 which reported the death of a five year old boy due to alleged negligence of Goa State Electricity Department. The press report indicated that a five year old boy, Mahabub Imam Navalgund, while playing with two of his friends noticed some guavas on a tree. In his excitement to pluck some guavas, he came into contact with the electric wires entangled to the tree and was electrocuted. It was alleged that immediately after the mishap, the electricity officials rushed to the site before the arrival of the police and repaired the wire which was dangling from the pole.
In response to a notices from the Commission, a report was submitted by Chief electrical Engineer and Ex-Officio Additional Secretary, Government of Goa, stating that the cause of the accident was due to snapping of live low tension bare aluminium conductor. Though fuses are provided at the distribution transformer for protection, these fuses could not blow off as the ground on which the conductor has snapped is a sandy area and the distribution transformer (supply source) is 0.5 Kms away from the accident spot. Since the fault current is not sufficient to blow the fuses due to high impedance, the snapped conductor remained live. The Victim who was playing near the victnity came in contact and get electrocuted. In another report, the Under Secretary (Home), Government of Goa, also intimated that an amount of Rs. 10,000/- as a special case had been sanctioned by the Compensation Committee to the paid to the parents of the deceased boy upon furnishing an affidavit by them. Yet another report dated 3.7.2002 wherein it has been stated that the payment of the compensation is awaited for want to furnishing of a death certificate of the deceased by his parents.
Upon perusal of the aforesaid report the Commission vide its proceedings dated 25 August 2003 held that the death of Mahabub Imam happened due to electrocution on 24 August 2000 at Gauravaddo, Calangute is well established. The cause of accident, accordingly to the report, was due to snapping of live high tension bare aluminium conductor and the non-blowing of fuses provided at the distribution transformer. The Commission was of the view that it is now a settled matter under law the supplier of electricity is liable for the damage caused without proof that is had been negligent and the liability in its case is strict. Keeping in view the established facts and circumstances of the case, the Commission considered it appropriate to issue a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Goa to show cause why immediate interim relief of Rs. 1 Lakh under section 18(3) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 be not paid to the next of the kin of the deceased boy.
In pursuance to the show cause notice, the Chief Secretary, Government of Goa had sent a report stating that as directed by the Commission Rupees one lakh had been sanctioned and paid by cheque to the parents of the deceased boy after tracing their address in Karnataka. In view of the action taken by the State Government the case was closed by the Commission.
 

Death of Dirisam Lajer Due to Electrocution: Andhra Pradesh (Case No.147/1/2001-2002(FC)

The Commission received a complaint from the widow of one Dirisam Lajer, who died as a result of electrocution in Katuru, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh on 24 May 1999. She alleged that when her husband had gone to the field for collecting fodder, he came in contact with a live electric wire lying on the ground and was electrocuted. She in her complaint to the Commission thus prayed for the grant of financial assistance. Accordingly, the Commission issued a notice to the Chief Engineer, Southern Power Distribution Company, Andhra Pradesh.
In response to the notice issued by the Commission, the Chief Engineer, Southern Power Distribution Company of Andhra Pradesh Limited admitted that on 24 May 1999 R-Phase Conductor of the L.T.3.0.4. Wire Line under Katuru Sub-Station-II snapped due to heavy gale and rain and had fallen on the sugar cane plantation without touching ground. Dirisam Lajer while going through the sugar cane field came into contact with the snapped conductor and got electrocuted. It was further stated that the Managing Director of the said Power Distribution Company had sanctioned an ex-gratia amount of Rs. 10,000/- to the legal heir of the deceased.
On consideration of the report, the Commission observed that a sum of Rs.10,000/- as ex-gratia compensation to the widow of the deceased was grossly inadequate. The Commission also observed that a precious life as lost due to electrocution. The rule of strict liability must apply on such a case. It was a clear case of negligence on the part of the supplier of electricity in maintaining the services in safe conditions.
Having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case, the Commission issued a show cause notice to the Chairman and Managing Director of Southern Power Distribution Company of Andhra Pradesh Limited, Tirupati to show cause why a sum of Rs. One lakh be not awarded to the complainant as “interim compensation” under section 18(3) of the Act., In response, the Chairman and MD, Southern Power Distribution Co. of Andhra Pradesh Ltd. Submitted that D.Lajer died accidentally as a result of contact with a live wire which was snapped due to heavy gale and rain and further there was no negligence on the part of any public servant and the death of the complainant’s husband was due to an accident as a result of the snapping of the conductor. All precautions had been taken by the concerned authorities to ensure the safety of human beings while laying and maintaining the electric lines in Katuru village and periodical inspection was also carried out to ensure the safety of the villagers.
Therefore, no negligence can be attributed to any public servant for the unforeseen mishap. It also submitted that under Section-36 of the said Act read with NHRC (Procedure) Regulations of 1994, the Commission shall not enquire into any matter after expiry of one year from the date on which the act constituted the violation of human rights is alleged to have been committed. Since the accidental death of the deceased had taken place on 24 May 1999 the complainant cannot approach the Commission after the expiry of one year from the date of the happening of the incident.
On consideration of the aforesaid matter, the Commission vide its proceedings dated 5 March 2004 observed that the Commission finds that a precious life had been lost due to electrocution and it is not merely the absence of negligence on the part of a public servant which may make it liable for such life incident but the failure of the public servant to prevent the foreseeable risk inherent in the very nature of the activity of the Board and failure of its duty to take care the Commission observed that such cases invite the invocation of the principles of “strict liability” and the argument that the non-petitioner has neither been negligent nor responsible for the incidents is not available in cases based on strict liability. That is legal position. However, a case like the present one requires consideration not on technicalities or legalities but on humanitarian grounds. The Commission observed that an ex-gratia compensation of Rs. 10,000/- given to the widow of the deceased for the loss of her husband, was grossly inadequate. The Commission requested the Chairman & MD, K. Ranganatham of Southern Power Distribution Company of A.P. to personally look into the matter and overlooking the technicalities and legalities see what further ex-gratia amount could be given to the widow to tide over her difficulties. A humane approach to the issue was recommended. The Commission also pointed out that the policy to award ex-gratia compensation of Rs.10,000/- in cases of death of electrocution, does require a fresh look by the authorities and it is hoped that the same would be considered in it’s correct perspective. The case is being monitored by the Commission.

 

Militants Attack ‘Langer’ – “7 Vaishno Devi Pilgrims Killed”. Jammu & Kashmir [Case No: 58/9/2003-2004(FC)]

The Commission took suo-motu cognizance of media reports on the outrageous terrorist attack of Langer at Ban Ganga near Katra, Distt. Udhampur, Jammu & Kahsmir on their way to the Vaishno Devi Shrine on 21 July 2003, killing seven devotees, including a child and injuring many innocent civilians. The Commission had consistently taken the position that such criminal acts were wholly unjustified and were violative of every conceivable human right. The Commission therefore called upon the authorities to ensure that the full force of the law must be brought to bear in dealing with such acts of terrorism and bringing to justice those who perpetrate or abet them. The Commission extended its deepest condolences to the families to those who had lost their lives or been injured in the terrorist attack.
In response the report received from the Director General of Police, Jammu & Kashmir indicated that two grenades were hurled by suspected anti-national elements into the open compound of ‘Langar’ at Banganga, which resulted in the death of six persons and injuires to fifty others. At the time of the attack, CRPF personnel along with local policemen were deployed on the track near the ‘Langar’. On 10 August 2003, one Mohd. Yousuf alias Muthu, resident of bagani basantgarh was apprehended and during sustained interrogation, he admitted that he along with two militants, namely Sahil of Pakistan and Mohd. Abdullah of Doda were responsible for the grende explosion at Gulshan Langar Ban Ganga on 21 July 2003. Further investigation in the case was in progress. The report further stated that in view of the increased rush of pilgrims on account of Amarnath Yatra, the security arrangements were reinforced by deputing one Trg. Coy of CRPF, which carries out long-range patrol in the surrounding high altitudinal areas. Pursuant to this attack, the arrangements have been further strengthened and the small hill feature to South-East of ‘Langar’ is being patrolled continuously to ensure that a repeated of this incident does not take place. Arrangements for the security of the Shrine are also being periodically reviewed.
On consideration of the report the Commission directed DG(P), Jammu & Kashmir to indicate whether any compensation/ex-gratia or otherwise has been paid to the next of kin of those killed at Vaishno Devi in the terrorists attack.
Pursuant to the Commission’s directions the DG(P), J&K had sent a report stating that ex-gratia relief @ Rs. 1 lakh each has been sanctioned and paid to the next of kin of 6 deceased killed in the bomb blast on 21 July 2003. Since action had been taken by the State Government, the Commission decided that no further action was called for in this case and accordingly closed the case.
 

Medical treatment to Ailing Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Veteran political Leader: Jammu & Kashmir [Case No:1271/34/2002-2003/FC]

The Commission was seized of the complaint from the Secretary General, Jammat-e-Islami, Jammu & Kashmir, alleging ill-treatment meted out to ailing Syed Ali Shah Geelani, veteran political leader of J&K, who was detained in Birsa Munda Central Jail, Ranchi in Jharkhand under the Public Safety Act, though the doctors attending on him in Jail had recommended that he be immediately shifted to AIIMS, New Delhi. It was further alleged that the State/Central Governments had taken no steps for shifting him to AIIMS deliberately on the grounds of non-availability to proper security arrangements for his treatment in the hospital.
The Commission called for a report in this matter from the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs. In response to the notice issued by the commission, the Government of Jammu & Kashmir submitted a report stating that Geelani has been moved to the Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai and that the State Government had borne the entire expenditure of the treatment of Syed Ali Geelani at Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai. In view of the action taken by the Government the case was closed by the Commission.
 

Action Taken on the Cases Reported in the Annual Reports for the Year 2001-2002 and 2002-2003

As many readers of the annual reports of the Commission have continued to express an interest in knowing about the action taken on the cases reported in the proceeding annual reports. Information in respect of the cases reported in the annual reports of 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 has been updated and further action taken in respect of those cases in summary form has been included in the following paragraphs:-

2001-2002

Harassment and illegal Detention of Farmers: Uttar Pradesh [Case no.9480/24/1999-2000]

This case relates to the alleged detention of several farmers for several days in a lock-up by the Tehsil authorities of Azamgarh District in order to recover arrears of land revenue from them and the inhuman treatment meted out to them while in illegal detention.
Upon consideration of the report received from the Government of Uttar Pradesh, the Commission directed the State Government to pay Rs.10,000/- as immediate interim relief to each of the persons detained.
Pursuant to Commission’s directions, the District Magistrate, Azamgarh informed the Commission that a sum of Rs. 10,000/- had been paid as compensation to the complainant Lalji Yadav.
Upon further consideration of the aforesaid report, the Commission in its proceedings dated 05 November 2003 observed that the report was however totally silent about the payment of compensation to other persons allegedly detained for recovery of arrears of land revenue although particulars of such persons were furnished by the complainant in his complaint. The Commission further directed the Government of UP that if it is established that others too were detained in the same manner as the complainant, then the authorities should follow the directions of this Commission dated 17 September 2001 in their cases also. With this direction the case was closed by the Commission.

Year 2004-2005

Death of Dirisam Lajer, an agricultural labourer by electrocution - Case No. 147/1/2001-2002(FC)

The Commission received a complaint dated 19 January 2001 from Smt. Dirisam Swarooparani w/o Late Dirisam Lajer resident of Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh, an agricultural labourer, having three children and no landed property, alleging that on 24 May 1999 her husband Shri D. Lajer, while cutting grass in the fields of a farmer, came in contact with a live electrical wire lying under the grass and died due to electric shock.

Taking cognizance, the Commission issued a notice to the Secretary, Department of Power, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh and Chairman, Andhra Pradesh Electricity Board and called for a report. In response, it was admitted in the report received from the Chief Engineer, Southern Power Distribution Company of Andhra Pradesh Limited that the wire lying under Katuru sub station –II snapped due to heavy gale and rain and had fallen on sugarcane plant without touching the ground. The victim while passing through the sugarcane field came in contact with the snapped live electrical wire and got electrocuted. The Southern Power Distribution Company of A.P. Ltd. had sanctioned an ex-gratia amount of Rs. 10,000/- to the legal heirs of the deceased.

The Commission considered the response from the State Government and in the light of the rule of strict liability propounded in the celebrated case, Rylands Vs. Fletcher – LR 3 HL 330:19LT 220 and followed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in M.P. Electricity Board Vs. Shail Kumari and others AIR 2002 SC 551, considered it a fit case for award of interim compensation u/s 18(3) of the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993, to the widow of the deceased. Accordingly, a show cause notice was issued on 20/11/2003 to the Chairman and Managing Director, Southern Power Distribution Company of A.P. Limited.

In response to the show-cause notice, the Chairman and Managing Director of the Company vide his communication dated 29 December 2003, reiterated that Shri D. Lajer had died accidentally as a result of coming in contact with a live wire which had snapped due to heavy gale and rain, and there was no negligence on the part of any public servant.

Vide its proceedings dated 5 March 2004, the Commission observed that a precious life had been lost due to electrocution. The Commission invoked the principle of “strict liability” and also observed that a State is liable not only for the negligent act of its public servants in such like situations, but also for the failure on the part of the public servants to take care to prevent such foreseeable risks, which are inherent in the very nature of such activity. The Commission noted that the payment of an ex-gratia amount of Rs.10,000/- to the widow of the deceased by the Company was grossly inadequate. The Commission therefore recommended to the Chairman & MD of Southern Power Distribution Co. of A.P. Ltd. to personally look into the matter and consider what further ex-gratia amount could be given to the widow.

A communication dated 22/6/2004 received from the Southern Power Distribution Co. of A.P. Ltd. indicated that the Company had paid an additional amount of Rs.20,000/- in addition to Rs.10,000/- already paid to the wife of the deceased. The report was taken on record and the case was closed.

PUNJAB MASS CREMATION CASE

The Commission received a remit, from the Supreme Court of India to examine 2097 cremations of dead bodies as un-identified by the Punjab Police in the Police District of Amrisar, Majitha and Tarn Taran of District Amritsar, Punjab during the period w.e.f. 1984 to 1994. While remitting the matter to the Commission, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India directed the CBI to take further action into the matter and register the cases where necessary, hold investigations and proceed in accordance with the law on the basis of material collected through investigation. For the remaining issues the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India requested the Commission to examine the matter.

In furtherance of the remit, the Commission considered the matter from time to time and vide its proceedings dated 11.11.2004, it unhesitantly held that human rights of 109 persons, who were admittedly in the custody of the police immediately prior to their death, stood invaded and infringed when they lost their lives, while in custody of the police thereby rendering the state vicariously liable. There was a very great responsibility on the part of the police and other authorities to take reasonable care so that citizens in their custody were ‘safe’ and not deprived of their right to life as in such cases “the duty of care on the part of the State is strict and admits of non exception.” The State of Punjab was, therefore, held accountable and vicariously responsible for the infringement of the indefeasible right to life of those 109 deceased persons as it failed to “safeguard their lives and persons against the risk of avoidable harm.”

The Commission found itself totally justified and, in the facts and circumstances of the case, duty bound and obliged to redress and grievances of the next of kin of the deceased by award of monetary compensation for infringement of the indefeasible right to life of deceased and apply balm to their wounds.

The Commission awarded a total compensation of Rs.2,72,50,000/- @ Rs.2.50 lakhs to the next of kin of each of 109 deceased persons who wee admittedly in the custody of the Punjab Police at the time of their death. The Commission is in the process of examining the claims in relation to the remaining cremations and grievances raised by the next of kin of the other deceased.
 

Displacement of farmers and agricultural labourers by construction of a barrage across the river Nagavalli – reief and rehabilitation: Andhra Pradesh – Case No. 667/1/2002-2003(FC)

Shri V. Kishore Chandra S. Deo, former Union Minister vide his reference dated 4th February 2003 invited attention of the Commission towards the misery and suffering which had occurred on account of the proposed construction of a barrage across the river Nagavalli near Thotapalli village of Vizianagaram District in Andhra Pradesh. According to the complaint, a large number of farmers who are dependent upon the present regulator for irrigation would be seriously affected. Besides, the agricultural labourers would also lose their jobs.

Having regard to the likely effect on the right to shelter, food and work of hundreds of farmers, the Commission called for a factual report from the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh and directed him to inform the Commission whether there was any relief and rehabilitation (R&R) package proposed for the persons who would be affected, and the nature of the relief and rehabilitation package.

In response, the State Govt. of Andhra Pradesh submitted a report vide letter dated 27.8.2003 giving details of relief and rehabilitation programme to be undertaken in respect of displaced persons or those who would lose their land in the project. The report stated that the total number of project affected persons who were required to be resettled worked out to 3287 families and the total amount required for relief and rehabilitation package was Rupees 92.79 crores. The report, however, did not indicate the time frame within which the relief and rehabilitation programme would be implemented. A detailed report relating to relief and rehabilitation package proposed by the State Government for the displaced is still awaited.
 

Rehabilitation and Resettlement of tribals : Karnataka - Case No: 505/10/97-98(FC)

The Commission received a complaint from Shri G. Mohan of Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement, Karnataka in respect of the rehabilitation and resettlement of the tribals of H.D. Kote Taluk District, Mysore, Karnataka who were affected by the construction of the Kabini Reservoir in early 1970s and the formation of Bandipur Project Tigar National Park in 1973-74.

The Commission on 13 January 2003, deliberated upon the issue of earmarking suitable land for rehabilitation of the displaced 154 tribal families and directed the State Government of Karnataka to send a formal proposal for diversion of forest land for rehabilitation purpose to the Union Ministry of Forest & Environment for its approval. The Commission also found it appropriate that, in order to facilitate a speedy and proper rehabilitation of the displaced tribal families, the process of rehabilitation be monitored by a Committee.

In response, the State Government accorded necessary sanction for diversion of 200 hectres of forest land in favour of the Revenue Department for rehabilitation of 154 tribal families displaced by the formation of Bandipur National Park and construction of the Kabini Reservoir in Mysore District. It also constituted a Committee with Shri Chaman Lal, Special Rapporteur, NHRC as a Member to monitor the rehabilitation of the displaced tribal families as well as to consider the facilities to be extended to the tribal families for their rehabilitation like housing, medical aid, etc. and ensure that their rehabilitation process is completed expeditiously.

Upon consideration of the report, the Commission expressed hope that the Committee would take expeditious steps for proper rehabilitation of the displaced tribal families. It requested the State Government to keep the Commission informed of the various steps being taken in that direction and to submit a progress report. As the requisite progress report was not received, the Commission directed the Chairman of the Committee viz., Dy. Commissioner, Mysore to expedite the rehabilitation process and submit a status report to the Commission. The report however, was still awaited.
 

Suicide of farmers in Andhra Pradesh and Kerala - Case No.208/1/2004-2005(FC)(LF 444/1/2001-2002 & 488/1/2004-2005)

The Commission took suo-motu cognizance of various news items reporting incidents of suicide by farmers in Andhra Pradesh due to crop failure and mounting debt burden. It was alleged in the report that since 1998 more than 1000 farmers had committed suicide while the non-official sources put the deaths at over 3000. The Commission also received a petition from Dr. Y.S. Rajasekara Reddy the then leader of opposition alleging negligent attitude of the State Govt. in formulating a policy to tackle the situation arising out of suicide being committed by the farmers in the State.

The Commission got the matter examined through its Special Rapporteur, who submitted a detailed report containing various recommendations. The gist of the suggestions made by the Special Rapporteur are as under: -

(a) Necessary measures like generation of employment through public works, social security measures, old-age pension, etc. have to be taken by the State Govt.
(b) Cancellation of debt in all cases of suicide deaths incurred with public institution and banks
(c) Ex-gratia relief of minimum Rs. 2 lakhs to the families of each suicide victim. In addition, a further amount not exceeding Rs.1 lakh for each family to settle the debts
(d) Review of policy in regard to regulation of the private trade in seeds and pesticides and fertilizer pricing as well as the Credit Policy.

In their comments on the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur, NHRC, the State Govt. of Andhra Pradesh submitted that a Cabinet Sub-Committee had considered the recommendations of the Commission and decided to take certain “short term” and “long term” measures to deal with the situation, namely -

Short Term Measures

1. Constitution of Agricultural Technology Mission
2. Constitution of Cabinet sub-committee to examine the existing situation and submit their recommendations

3. Supply of seeds, fertilizers and pesticides in subsidized cost
4. Free power to all agricultural connections waiving of power dues worth Rs.1200 crores
5. Ex-gratia payment of Rs.1.00 lakh to the family of deceased farmers and a further Rs.50,000/- towards liquidation of farm debt
6. Another Rs.50,000/- from PM’s Relief Fund as ex-gratia to the family of each victim
7. Admission of children in Social Welfare Schools and Hostels
8. Allotment of houses under IAY scheme
9. Economic support under Government Schemes
10. Pensions etc.
11. Provision of self-employment to at least one member of each family
12. Bill on Moratorium for 6 months on private money lenders
13. Two years of moratorium on institutional credit recovery
14. Sanction of additional food grains for generation of employment in rural areas
15. Commission of Judicial Enquiry by a retired Judge
16. Proposal for a separate bill called moneylenders bill for protection of interest of farmers including fixing the upper limit of interest rate

Long Term Measures

1. Initiation of cloud seeding
2. Planning for plantation of Jatropha and Pongamia for production of bio-diesel
3. Establishment of help lines for distressed farmers
4. Establishment of State level and District level cells to monitor the cases of farmer’s suicide and extension of relief on time

While submitting that the number of suicides of farmers have come down drastically, the State Govt. has also intimated the Commission about various measures taken by it for the welfare of the farmers including setting up of Farmers’ Welfare Commission to go into the causes of suicides by farmers and to suggest remedial measures.
The Commission has called for a copy of the report of the Farmers’ Welfare Commission. The same is awaited.
 

Suicide by farmers: Karnataka - Case File No.180/10/2003-2004(FC)(LF No.213/10/2003-2004)

The Commission received a complaint from Shri P. Kodanda Ramaiah, Ex. M.P., Sh. B.R. Patil, Ex. Vice Chairman, Legislative Council, Sh. K. Sharananna, Ex. MLA, Kushtagi and Sh. Srishailappa Bidarur, Ex. MLA, Ron alleging that the farmers in Karnataka are committing suicide due to hunger caused due to drought resulting in failure of crops.

The Commission considered the matter and got it investigated by its Special Rapporteur. The Special Rapporteur, NHRC visited the affected areas and submitted a detailed report dated 10/01/2004 with the following broad recommendations: -
(a) In all cases of suicide deaths, the debts incurred with public institutions like cooperatives and banks should be ordered to be cancelled, after a thorough verification;
(b) Payment of ex-gratia relief of Rs.2 lakhs to the affected families. In addition, depending on the debts incurred by the victim, a further amount not exceeding Rs.1 lakhs be provided to each family towards settlement of the debts with the assistance of the village community, so as to end the entire trauma being experienced by these families;
(c) A complete scrutiny of the functioning of the Public Distribution System (PDS) in Karnataka by the Development Commissioner including the implementation of PDS at the district and village level;
(d) A credible rural employment programme based on productive public works with a guarantee of at least 100 to 120 days of employment with guaranteed minimum wages;
(e) The programme of providing 5 kg. of rice as “take home” ration should be restarted by the Karnataka Government and also nutrition programmes must be strengthened.

The above recommendations of the Special Rapporteur, NHRC were forwarded to the State Govt. of Karnataka as well as Union Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development for obtaining their comments and the Chief Secretary, Karnataka and the Secretaries of Union Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development were requested to submit action taken report.

In response, the State Govt. of Karnataka vide letter dated 17/6/2004 submitted the action taken report on the various recommendations indicating inter alia, the following measures taken by the State Government: -
(a) Distribution of additional food grains to 68,000 beneficiaries under
Annapoorna Scheme
(b) Issue of 35 kg. Food grains per BPL family per month
(c) Beneficiaries under Anthyodaya Anna Yojana have been increased to
7,l19,700 from 4,79,700
(d) Providing 100 days employment to the needy and willing rural poor
(e) As on 31.03.2004, 12.20 lakhs Kissan Credit Cards have been issued to the farmers in the Co-operative Sector for obtaining loan
(f) An Act, namely, “The Karnataka Prohibition of Charging Exorbitant Interest Act, 2004” has been implemented in the State. Under the said Act, where a debtor or any member of his family commits suicide and if it is shown that immediately prior to such suicide, the debtor or any member of his family was subjected to molestation by any person, the person who has advanced loan shall, unless the contrary is provided, be deemed to have abetted the commission of such suicide and notwithstanding anything contained in the Karnataka Money Lenders Act1961, no action against debtor who is a farmer or agricultural labourer to recover loan shall be taken for a period of one year from the date of commencement of the Ordinance
(g) The Report also contains several recommendations made by the Expert Committee for Study on Farmers’ Suicides vis-à-vis comments of the concerned departments of the State Govt. of Karnataka on the
recommendations made by the Expert Commission.
The Union Ministry of Agriculture also indicated some measures initiated by the Union Government for the welfare of farmers, namely,
(i) that the Finance Minister announced on 18th June 2004, a special package to provide relief to farmers in distress due to the problem of indebtedness. Some of the salient features of the package are: -
• Total flow of agricultural credit to be enhanced to about Rs.105,000 crore in 2004-05 representing a 30% increase over the flow of credit in the previous year;

• Commercial banks will bring into their fold at least 100 new farmers at each rural and semi-rural branch during the current year to enlarge borrowing from banks by about 50 lakh;
• Each rural and semi-urban branch of commercial banks will take up two to three new investment projects in the area of plantation and horticulture, fisheries, organic farming, agro-processing, live stock, micro-irrigation, sprinkler irrigation, watershed management, village ponds development and other agricultural activities;
• In every district, all commercial banks put together will finance 10 agri-clinics during the current year;
• In order to provide credit to tenant farmers and oral lessees, NABARD will facilitate formation and financing of self-help groups;
• Scales of finance will be reviewed to meet the realistic credit needs of farmers, especially capital-intensive agricultural operations;
(ii) that the Reserve Bank of India has issued standing guidelines to the Banks for providing relief to farmers in areas affected by natural calamities. These guidelines envisage inter-alia: -
• Conversion/rescheduling of loans in the event of natural calamity for periods ranging from 3 to 9 years depending upon successive crop failures/intensity of damage to crops;
• Grant of fresh crop loans to affected farmers;
• Conversion of principal as well as interest due on the existing loans;
• Grant of consumption loans;
• Not to compound interest in respect of loans converted/rescheduled etc.;
• Not to charge penal interest in respect of current dues in cases of default;
(iii) that the RBI has asked the Public Sector Banks to step up their disbursement to small and marginal farmers and also Private Sector Banks have been urged to formulate Special Agricultural Credit Plans from the next financial year;
(iv) that all the Public Sector Banks have been advised to reduce their lending rate for agriculture to not more than 9% p.a. on crop loans upto a ceiling of Rs.50,000. The Banks have also been advised to waive margin/security requirements for agricultural loans upto Rs.50,000. NABARD has also issued guidelines on schemes for redemption of debts of farmers from non-institutional sources;
(v) that in order to protect the farmers from the adverse effect of natural calamities leading to failure of crops, the National Agricultural Insurance Scheme has been in place since Rabi 1999-2000. The Department of Agriculture and Cooperation has also formulated a scheme titled Farm Income Insurance Scheme to provide income protection to the farmers by integrating the mechanism of insuring production as well as market risks. The scheme has been implemented during Rabi 2003-04 in 19 selected districts of 13 States for wheat and paddy;
(vi) that the Minimum Support Price and Market Intervention Scheme are being implemented to ensure remunerative prices to the farmers. Further drought relief assistance is also given to the States both in the form of financial assistance and food-grains based on norms;
(vii) that during 2003-2004, a total quantity of 7,29,370 MTs of food grain were released to the State free of cost for drought relief employment. Release of food grains under the special component of Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana was made by the Ministry of Rural Development on the recommendations of Deptt. of Agriculture & Cooperation. Further a sum of Rs.298.16 crores was released to the State from National Calamity Contingency Fund for the drought of 2003-04 which inter-alia included assistance for Special Nutrition Programme;

In their comments, the Union Ministry of Rural Development informed the Commission that the Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana (SGRY) as a wage employment programme envisaged provision of additional wage employment in the rural areas as also food security along side the creation of durable community, social and economic infrastructure in the rural areas. Details about allocation of cash component and food grains for the State of Karnataka during the year 2003-2004 were mentioned. A reference was also made that a new scheme namely, National Food For Work Programme (NFFWP) has been launched in 150 most backward districts in the country from November 2004 to generate additional supplementary wages employment and to create productive assets in these districts. Under NFFWP, three districts of Karnataka namely, Chitradurga, Devangere and Bidar have been included. It is further stated that the Government had introduced a Bill in Lok Sabha on 21.12.2004 namely, National Rural Employment Guarantee Bill, 2004 to provide at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment work to every poor rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. This will ensure more number of days employment opportunities to the rural poor.
The matter was still under consideration by the Commission.

Devastation caused by tsunami in coastal areas of South India – Case No. 1054/22/2004-2005-FC

Taking suo-motu cognizance of the calamity that arose from devastating tsunami waves which hit large areas of coastal India, including Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala on 26.12.2004, the Full Commission, vide its proceedings dated 13/01/2005, observed

(i) that it is essential that the Government machinery involved in rehabilitation is able to take all necessary steps for an equitable distribution of both relief as well as rehabilitation measures while maintaining transparency and ensure that the poor, destitute women, destitute children and all persons, who would be in greater need of the relief and rehabilitation measures, are not deprived or made to suffer and are well taken care of;

(ii) that in order to ensure smooth process of relief, the concerned State Governments/Union Territories must at the earliest prepare and publicize a computerized list of persons, dead or missing, because of tsunami disaster as also list of the totally/partially destroyed properties, as such authentic list would help in smooth settlement of insurance and other claims of the victims and expedite the rehabilitation process and also help the families to trace the missing persons;

(iii) that to ensure that young widows and children were not sexually or otherwise exploited by unscrupulous elements, the State Governments/Union Territories should evolve a mechanism towards that end and to prepare a computerized list of such widows and children who were victims of tsunami disaster which would help the authorities to guard against their exploitation.

The Commission called for responses from the Secretary, Min. of Home Affairs, (2) Chief Secretaries of Governments of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu as also the Administrators, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Pondicherry. Response were received by the Commission from the Government of Andhra Pradesh, Administrator, Andaman Nicobar Islands, Government of Kerala, Administrator UT of Pondicherry, the Ministry of Home Affairs, besides an interim reply from the Government of Tamilnadu.
The Commission also received several petitions from various individuals/NGOs alleging (a) eviction of fishermen from coastal areas by the State Govt. of Tamil Nadu in the name of rehabilitation and thus endangering their livelihood, and (b) discrimination against Dalits in distribution of relief and rehabilitation works by the Administration. Response in the matter was called for from the Government of Tamilnadu, which is still awaited.
 

Death of Nazia Kouser by beatings given by ultras in District Poonch, Jammu & Kashmir - Case No. 68/9/2003-2004(WC)/FC

The Commission received a reference dated 11 August 2003 from Dr. Poornima Advani, Hon’ble Chairperson, National Commission for Women inviting attention to a newspaper report published in “The Tribune” dated 2/8/2003 captioned “Two girls reportedly beaten to death by ultras” in the State of Jammu & Kashmir. A prayer was made to the Commission for getting a joint investigation conducted by it along with the National Commission for Women and the National Minority Commission.

Pursuant to the directions of the Commission, a report was called from the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, Jammu & Kashmir.
The report submitted by the Home Department, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir indicated that the girls were beaten with gun butts/lathis by the ultras for which a case FIR No. 113/03 had been registered at P.S. Thanamandi and that the investigation was in progress. The report further indicated that one of the girls Nazia Kouser, died on the spot whereas the other girl, Shazia Kouser was first taken to Rajouri Hospital and then shifted to the Government Medical College, Jammu.



A further communication from the DGP, Jammu & Kashmir indicated that the investigation in the case FIR No. 113/03 had been closed as untraced. The Commission directed the DGP, Jammu & Kashmir to inform whether any compensation/ex-gratia relief had been given to the next of kin of the deceased, Nazia Kouser and about the condition of Shazia Kouser.

A report dated 19/5/2004 submitted by the DGP, Jammu & Kashmir indicated that the District Magistrate, Rajouri had paid an ex-gratia relief of Rs. 1,00,000/- (Rupees one lakh) to the next of kin of the deceased, Ms. Nazia and a compensation of Rs. 5,000/- (Rupees five thousand) to Shazia for her treatment. The girl, Shazia was now living with her family in Rajouri Town, Jammu & Kashmir. The report was taken on record and the case closed on 23/6/2004.
 

Throwing of bleaching powder solution on the face of Ms. Jeena Kumari, resident of Tamil Nadu - Case No: 103/22/2003-2004(WC)/FC

The Coordinator, Human Rights Promotion Cell, Rural Uplift Centre, Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu forwarded a complaint alleging that on 14.1.2003 one Mr. Jones and his accomplice Stephen had thrown bleaching powder solution on the face of Ms. Jeena Kumari, a student of Bachelor of Pharmacy, belonging to SC community. The girl suffered injuries and was hospitalized. On complaints at Thuckalay Police Station, Kanyakumari District, a FIR was registered against the accused under the IPC. Later, provisions of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. 1989 were added. After the investigations were completed, a charge sheet was filed in the court of Judicial Magistrate. It was alleged that again on 31.3.2003, when the victim, Ms. Jeena Kumari got down from the bus in front of her college, Jones threw acid on her face. Consequently, her face as well as both the hands were disfigured. On the basis of her statement Police at Koondankulam Police Station registered a case No. 77/03 under various sections of Indian Penal Code as well as SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Pursuant to the directions of the Commission, DGP, Tamil Nadu sent a report which indicated that Criminal Case Nos. 43/2002 and 77/2003 were registered against accused persons who were arrested and remanded to judicial custody. The cases were pending trial. The report further stated that pursuant to the recommendations of the Collector, Kanyakumari District, the State Government of Tamil Nadu had accorded sanction for financial assistance to the tune of Rs. 50,000/- to the victim for her medical treatment and the said amount was disbursed to her on 10.7.2003. The mother of the victim had deposed before the Tehsildar, Thovalai, Tamil Nadu that the scars on the face of her daughter, caused due to throwing of acid, were disappearing under some Ayurvedic treatment. The District Collector, Kanyakumari, after considering the statement given by the mother of the victim had reportedly recommended that there was no necessity for the corrective plastic surgery, as proposed by the Commission earlier.

On consideration of the aforesaid report, the Commission vide its proceedings dated 10.1.2005 took the compliance report on record and closed the case.
 

Denial of visas to certain Sikh NRIs - Case No: 6/99/2003-2004

The Commission received a reference dated 28.4.2003 from the Chairman, National Commission for Minorities in respect of large number of sikh Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) who had been black-listed by the Ministry of Home Affairs for their emotional outbursts and raising of slogans outside Indian Embassies in protest of the Golden Temple episode of 1984. These NRIs had been denied visas even in the most compassionate and humane situations when they were required to be by the side of their dying parents or were to attend the religious ceremonies in their family. A request was, therefore, made by the Minority Commission to get list totally scrapped.

Upon consideration of the matter, the Commission sought information from the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India to the black-list prepared by the Ministry, particulars about last revision of the list, its current status and the possibility of its expeditious revision. A copy of the communication received from Shri Simranjit Singh Mann, MP concerning the case of Dr. Hajinder Singh Dilgeer, a citizen of Norway, was also referred to the Ministry of Home Affairs for its comments.

In response, the Ministry of Home Affairs submitted a report indicating that in the negative list of 1989-1999 there were 489 names of persons of Indian origin holding foreign citizenship, who had come to adverse notice and were to be denied visas for visiting the country. It was further stated that the list was reviewed from time to time, and that on 28 July 2003 the last deletion circular was issued whereby the names of 55 persons were deleted. The number of such persons on the negative list as on 6 August 2003, was stated to be 134. The Report also stated that the name of Dr. Hajinder Singh Dilgeer @ Doctor was deleted from the negative list on 10 April 2003. The ommission took the report on record and closed the case on 12/11/2003.
 

Deportation of Pakistani Nationals after undergoing imprisonment - Case No.2218/30/2003-2004

The Commission received a complaint dated 18.9.2003 from four Pakistani Nationals confined for more than one and a half months in Restricted Foreigners Camp Lampur, Delhi, on release from Tihar Jail after undergoing imprisonment in connection with different cases under IPC and Foreigners Act for entry in India without valid documents. They alleged that no action had been taken by the authorities for their deportation to Pakistan. A prayer was, therefore, made for intervention by the Commission for their deportation.

The Commission on 5.11.2003 called for the comments from the Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs and the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

The Ministry of External Affairs vide their letter dated 29/4/04, indicated that Sh. Mohd. Shaheen was repatriated to Pakistan on 14/11/03 and S/ Shri Sana-ul-lah, Faisal Hussain and Maqsood Ahmad were repatriated on December 19, 2003 by Delhi Police.

With reference to a communication addressed by the Commission to the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India to confirm whether the four persons had actually been repatriated to Pakistan, along with the dates on which the repatriation took place, the Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs vide letter dated 21/2/2005 informed that Mohd. Shaheen s/o Mohd. Ashraf was deported on 14/12/2003 and Maqsood Ahmad S/o Abdul Rashid, Mohd. Sanna-U-llah s/o Mohd. Khaliq and Mohd. Faisal Hussain s/o Modh. Hussain were deported on 19/12/2003.

Since appropriate relief, after intervention by the Commission had been granted to the four Pakistani Nationals, no further action by the Commission was considered necessary and the case was closed on 25/4/2005.