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Defunct Manipur Human Rights Commission sees no sign of revival

Kingson Chingakham

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Manipur is reportedly one of the states which is infamous for human rights violations. If it is a news from Manipur, it has to be definitely a story on gross violations of human rights. In such a scenario, the least to be expected from the state government is to have a proper functioning State Human Rights Commission. When the Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) was established in 1998, it gave a ray of hope to many. But the commission has been lying defunct for almost 7 years with no steps taken to revive the commission on urgent basis.

Previous Congress government under Okram Ibobi Singh had planned to revive the commission. Last year, the former CM had sought time for revival and the Chief secretary had even asked for three months time from the High Court. But it has remained on papers only. The present BJP Government do not find any immediate requirement to revive the commission and have not even considered deliberating about it. The lack of political will and non-interventionist approach from the National Human Rights Commission and the central government have helped the state to take this issue lightly.

With cases piling up on table from May 2010, complainants have limited avenues to approach. Most of the  cases have been sent back by the MHRC with the excuse that the ‘the post of Chairperson and members have been lying vacant since May 2010’. Therefore, due to lack of adequate members in the Commission no decisions can be taken. The commission does not even have a website of it’s own. Even if it is defunct, it is required to have a website where people can have access to reports and archives. It has lengthened the process of filing Right To Information(RTI) where the rate of disposal of cases has been just around 55% in the state.  

Human Rights activists and affected people of human rights violations have requested to forward the cases to National Human Rights Commission(NHRC). Some important cases of extra judicial killings have found way to NHRC but most of the cases have been neglected. At the moment, the MHRC has just a Deputy Secretary and a Head Clerk. It does not make sense, if it is defunct, why have a deputy secretary?

Manipur is a place which shelters more than 60 militant groups. It is a conflict zone. People over there have been suffering from both the militant groups and the arm forces. The gross violation of AFSPA have been also widely reported in the media. Many human rights groups have filed petitions in the Supreme Court to bring into justice the victims of extra judicial killings from the state of Manipur. The Supreme Court has found around 1,550 to be victims of such extra judicial killings. In spite of the existing facts, nobody has cared to look into the matter of reviving the commission.

Since 2010, the state government had decided not to send any cases to NHRC. But the NHRC had to intervene later on when the commission failed to received any comments from MHRC regarding a case. Since then, the NHRC has been inactive in following up the matter.

Large chunk of the population is poor and they can not hire lawyers and engage in to the expensive judicial procedure. The MHRC was the only hope to thousands of people as a genuine case could be taken care of without paying anything. The MHRC should be revived at least for the poor.

Since the MHRC is defunct, the high courts are burdened with extra cases which the MHRC should have taken care of. People having no where to go have started approaching the courts. The court procedure takes long and there is no time frame. People have sold off their properties and even taken loans to bear the judicial expenses. The frequent failure of the state government has exemplified that the state government has no interest in reviving the MHRC and has no interest in protecting human rights.

Similarly in Assam, the positions of Chairperson and two members ( judicial and non-judicial) have been lying vacant. Tripura and Sikkim are the only two states out of 4 states in the north east region which have state human rights commissions that have been functioning properly with adequate quorum and guidelines.

Personal Blog. For details please mail me at observersindia@gmail.com

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