NHRC West Bengal ‘Open Hearing and Camp Sitting’ concludes with recommendations of Rs. 6 lakh in 3 cases and show cause notices in two others (14.12.2018)

Kolkata 14th December, 2018

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC held its two days' 'Open Hearing and Camp Sitting' organized in Kolkata for the cases pertaining to the state of West Bengal. The Commission took up 140 cases in its Open Hearing on the day one and recommended monetary relief of Rs. Six Lakh in three cases and it directed to issue Show Cause Notices to the State government in two matters for providing monetary relief for prima-facie violation of human rights. In some cases, reports received from authorities were ordered to be sent to the complainants for their comments and, in some cases, further reports have been called for. 66 cases were closed based on satisfactory response from the State Government and redressal of the grievances raised in the complaints. The cases were heard in three single benches, presided over by Mr. Justice H.L. Dattu, Chairperson, NHRC and Members Mr. Justice P.C. Ghose and Mrs. Jyotika Kalra.

The complaints received, by and large, raised grievances on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and other weaker sections of the society. The nature of grievances raised included inaction by state authorities for providing basic amenities such as potable drinking water, all season roads, healthcare, education, old age pension etc. In some cases, the grievances raised related to police inaction, particularly in cases of alleged rape, beatings by anti-social elements and illegal detention and torture in police custody.

Earlier, after the welcome address by the Home Secretary, Mr. Atri Bhattacharya, the Chief Secretary of the State Mr. Malay Kumar De reiterated the commitment of the State Government to the protection of humanrights of the people. Mr. Ambuj Sharma, Secretary General, mentioned that this camp sitting was a part of the series of such sittings in other State capitals and provided an occasion for the Commission to come to the State for disposal of cases, particularly, pertaining to SCs/STs and interaction with the civil society, NGOs and Human Right Defenders for the identification of significant issues pertaining to the State. The sittings also paved the way for collaboration between the NHRC and SHRCs and use of technology for efficient complaint handling and joint efforts in comprehensive implementation of human rights.

In his address, Mr. Justice H. L. Dattu, Chairperson NHRC said that the open hearings and camp sittings provide an opportunity to look at human rights situation in a State and the grievances of the people, particularly the marginalized sections, and recommend on the spot relief to the victims of human rights violations besides creating awareness and helping the official machinery in improving the governance with proper implementation of Socio-economic Flagship programmes and provision of basic facilities. In particular, it provided a way forward to address the issue of human rights through key economic and socio-welfare programmes. Compliance with the provision of the SC/ST (POA) Act, care of elderly persons, issues arising from Business and Human Rights played a pivotal role in strengthening partnership between the various stake holders.

On the Second Day, the Full Commission considered ten sensitive matters involving issues of Health Care particularly Silicosis deaths Arsenic contaminated water, deplorable condition of inmates in Behrampore Mental Hospital, death of 20 people in a fire in a five storied building near Sealdah Railway Station, relief and rehabilitation of victims of Tiger assault in Sunderban, relief and rehabilitation of people in Bangladeshi Enclave and relief and rehabilitation of victims of sexual assaults by a school teacher on students. After the Full Commission sitting, the Commission had an extensive interaction with NGOs, Human Rights Defenders and LGBTI Groups, who raised issues relating to atrocities by Police and Para-military in Murshidabad District, denial of Shelter Homes, education, health and platform for redressal of grievances to LGBTIs, inaction by State government for creating awareness of LGBTI Rights and Welfare besides non-implementation of the directives of the Supreme Court. Attention was also invited to the total absence of Census and Protection for LGBTI, absence of Independent Silicosis Programme, denial of Education and Health Care to tribals in 76 villages in Purulia, creation of disturbance during programmes for creating Human Rights Awareness, non-implementation of section 176(1-A) Cr.P.C., languishing in jails of Bangladeshi Women and Children in India, starvation deaths. Misuse of Section 303/304 A IPC and rehabilitation for people who have undergone life sentence.

After the meeting with the NGOs, the Commission had an in-depth interaction with the senior officers of the State Government. The important issues which came up for consideration during the course of the two days hearing were taken up with the officials of the State government for ameliorating the conditions of the weaker sections of the society and for creating an environment and commitment for better protection of Human Rights. The Chief Secretary and DGP both assured their best efforts and concerted action on the various issues of human rights faced by the people in the state.