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No schools, no primary health centres, no roads for people caught in conflict: CJI
He rejects demand to oversee registration of police complaints
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to send a team of rights activists, at this stage, to Chhattisgarh to look into complaints of rights violations. Instead, it directed the State government to submit a report on the action taken on the findings of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
What steps have been taken?
A Bench comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices Deepak Verma and B.C. Chauhan said: “As regards the implementation of the NHRC Report, the government is directed to file a detailed report as to what steps have so far been taken regarding the registration of various criminal cases and the progress made in the various criminal cases which are already pending in courts.”
What about panel for rehabilitation?
The Bench said: “The State would also respond to the suggestions made by the petitioner [Nandini Sundar] as to whether a committee could be appointed to consider the question of rehabilitation and compensation, if any, to be paid to the victims. The State shall file its response within four weeks.”
When the petitioner referred to the rights violations and drew the court's attention to the plight of the people, the CJI observed: “We agree with your concern for the ordinary people in Dantewada district.”
Is it not war?
The CJI referred to the statements made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P. Chidambaram on the ongoing fight against Naxalites in the country's tribal belt. “Your PM and HM have said it's war. Is it not war?” “Who will protect them there? The government could not even take care of its own people [referring to the April 6 Naxal attack on CRPF jawans]. If something happens who will take care?”
The CJI, expressing concern over the plight of the people caught in the conflict, said: “There are no schools, no primary health centres, no roads, the people are suffering. Such are the conditions.”
He rejected the demand for setting up of a committee to oversee registration of police complaints, saying it was violative of the principles of criminal justice. “Criminal prosecution is not something that can be interfered with.”
‘Government failed to address issues'
Ms. Nandini said that as the State government had failed to address the issues raised by an NHRC team, the court should depute a team of rights activists or independent eminent people such as the former Election Commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh, to visit those areas. “The constitution of a monitoring committee can lead to a de-escalation of conflict. It could act as a confidence-building measure. It could invite complaints (of excesses) from people and hold out an assurance of peace to the people.”
The government had so far inquired into only 22 of the 114 instances of rights violations noted by the NHRC and filed FIRs on seven of them, the petitioner said.
Her counsel Rajinder Sachar argued that the government had not compensated all those affected by the conflict.
In her rehabilitation proposal, Ms. Nandini wanted that all affected and displaced persons given immediate humanitarian assistance, “wherever they are. In particular, they have the right to food, shelter, healthcare (including mental health care), clothing and education. There should, at the same time, be a time frame for full and voluntary return of all displaced persons in conflict situations.”
Assurance on compensation
The government, on its part, said “police forces” had been “blown up and their legs amputated” when they went to find out people reported missing by activists. Its counsel, Manish Singhvi, said: “The State is committed to providing compensation to all affected by violence committed by any outfit.”
The matter will come up for further hearing in July.
Corrections and Clarifications(In a report “[Supreme] Court calls for NHRC report on Chhattisgarh” (May 7, 2010), the petitioner, Nandini Sundar did not ask for the court “to send a team of rights activists to Chhattisgarh to look into complaints of rights violations” as was reported in the first paragraph. As part of the rehabilitation plan, the petitioner wanted a high level monitoring committee which would include retired civil servants or judges as well as representatives of the Government of Chhattisgarh; a survey to be carried out under the aegis of a reputed academic institution, and district judges to receive and process claims of heinous crimes.)
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