PUCL Bulletin, March 2002

A dialog with the national human rights commission
Minutes of the Meeting of the Core Group, Monitoring Mechanism for Consultation with NGOs

(Excerpts for the information of State branches of the PUCL. Suggestions, wherever necessary, may be sent to the General Secretary.)

The 3rd meeting of the Core group was held on 23.11.01. Shri Henri Tiphagne chaired the meeting.

Following issues were discussed:

I Complaints received through NGOs
Some members mentioned that there is no system for dealing with complaints, sent to the Commission by the NGOs, on a priority basis in the Commission. This, the group felt, leads to erosion of the credibility of the NGOs in their felid of activity. The issue was discussed and suggestions were made for improving the handling of complaints received from the NGOs as follows:

  • Complaints received from reputed NGOs should be given priority;
  • Where, on a complaint, a decision is proposed to be taken for closure of the case, the comments of the NGOs should be obtained before passing the final orders;
  • Where a complaint is proposed to be investigated by an investigation team of the Commission, the concerned NGO should also be informed of the visit if the investigated team;
  • A separate data base may be created and maintained in the Commission in respect of complaints received through reputed NGOs;

It was decided that the above suggestions would be placed before the Commission for an appropriate decision.

II Nominees for visit to jails
Attention of the group was drawn to a judgement of the Punjab and Haryana High Court directing, inter-alia removal of all its instruments of torture from police stations. It was brought out that these directions have not yet been complied with in several cases in the above States. In this context, the Convenor explained that, on a request from the government of Maharashtra based on the directions of the Hon'ble high Court of Maharashtra, nominees have been appointed for inspection of jails in Maharashtra. The group felt that, on similar lines, nominees should be identified in the above two states, as also in other states, who could play an important role in monitoring and highlighting cases of violation of Court Orders in police stations and jails. Suggestions received from the members for appointment as nominees, could be placed before the Commission for its consideration. It was also suggested that the concept of appointing nominees could also be extended to other areas of concern like remand homes, etc, and specific proposals if received in this regard, could be considered.

III Violations relating to arrest provisions
Another area of concern voiced by the group related to violations arising from non-compliance with the Supreme Court directions on arrest, reiterated by the NHRC. It was felt that the NGOs could play a positive role by spreading awareness on the rights available to the accused. In this context, the group mentioned that the booklet on arrest issued by the Commission could be used as an effective aid for this purpose. Director People's Watch volunteered to conduct a study of such cases in Tamil Nadu and submit the status report.

IV Rights of the mentally ill
Rights of the mentally ill who have been cured of their mental illness but who are still languishing in mental hospitals for various reasons was discussed. The Convenor explained that efforts are on to set up half way homes at Gwalior, Ranchi and Agra in the mental hospitals. Director, Action Aid, was requested to consider the possibility of involving his organisation in the venture, as he indicated a few months back V Bias against the poor lodged in jails
A pronounced bias against the poor lodged in jails also came up as a topic for discussion. The necessity of a systematic study to determine the truth and gravity of this bias against the poor was felt by all the members. The Convenor clarified that specific proposals received in this regard, could be considered by the Commission.

The Group place on record its appreciation of the stand taken by the Commission on the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance, 2001 and wanted this to be conveyed to the Chairperson.

It was decided to meet during the last week of February 2002 after sufficient notice and ascertaining convenience of the members

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