Jurisprudence Resources

India: Interventions by NHRIs against torture during April 2019

The National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) of India i.e. National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the State Human Rights Commissions (SHRCs) are mandated to address human rights violations and continue to intervene in cases of torture.

As per latest data available, the National Human Rights Commission registered a total of 5,722 fresh cases, including 12 relating to death in police custody and 115 relating to deaths in judicial custody, while it disposed of a total of 5,720 cases (Fresh + Old), including 12 cases of death in police custody and 122 cases of death in judicial custody, during March 2019. A total of 20,118 cases (Fresh + Old), including 379 cases of death in police custody and 3,450 cases of death in judicial custody, were under consideration of the Commission as in March 2019.[1]

In March 2019, the NHRC has awarded a total of Rs 59,15,000 in 34 cases of human rights violations, including 6 cases of death in judicial custody, one case of harassment of prisoner; one case of arbitrary use of power, three cases of failure in taking lawful action, one case of abuse of power, two cases of illegal arrest, two cases of unlawful detention, among others.[2]

Some of the emblematic cases of interventions during April 2019 are given below.

Case 1: Tamil Nadu SHRC orders State Government to pay compensation to businessman for police harassment

On 15 April 2019, Tamil Nadu State Human Rights Commission recommended the State Government to pay a compensation of Rs. 75,000 to a businessman who was harassed by police in a civil dispute case in 2012. The SHRC also asked the State Government to recover the same from the two accused police personnel. In his complaint to the SHRC, businessman Mohammed had alleged that he was harassed by Inspector N Thiruppathi and Head Constable A Perumal attached to Tankasi police station. In 2011, one Salavudeen borrowed Rs 3 lakh from him, promising to pay back within a month. Shahul Hameed, a relative of Nainar, was also present when Salavudeen provided a post-dated cheque for Rs 3 lakh. However, as Salavudeen had not repaid the debt, Nainar deposited the cheque in a bank. The cheque was returned due to insufficient funds in the account. Subsequently, a legal notice was issued by Nainar to Salavudeen, who, in turn, lodged a criminal complaint against Nainar and Hameed with the Tenkasi police. Inspector Thiruppathi, who summoned Nainar and Hameed, ordered them to return the cheque issued by Salavudeen and also threatened that if Nainar failed to return the cheque, he would be foisted with criminal cases and sent to jail. The SHRC in its order observed that Thiruppathi and Perumal had exceeded their police power and acted in favour of Salavudeen violating human rights.[3]

Case 2: Tamil Nadu SHRC orders a police inspector to pay Rs. 50,000 to torture victim

On 9 April 2019, Tamil Nadu State Human Rights Commission directed an inspector from Tiruchendur in Thoothukudi district to pay a compensation of Rs 50,000 to an activist on charge of arresting him after foisting a case against him and subjecting him to torture in police custody in October 2012. In his complaint, the victim identified as R. Ramesh of Nalayiramudayarkulam, Thoothukudi district, submitted that he had filed a number of complaints to the government against illegal tapping of water from borewells by a factory. However, on the instigation of the factory owner, Inspector Thillai Nagarajan registered a case against him and remanded him in prison on 6 October 2012. Besides abusing him, Thillai Nagarajan and three other constables had also assaulted him with a cricket stump, palmyrah stick and lathis. In its order, the SHRC observed that when an innocent person is falsely implicated, he not only suffers from loss of reputation but also from mental tension, and his personal liberty is seriously impaired. Therefore, Thillai Nagarajan failed to follow the procedures laid down in law in arresting Ramesh, and hence, Thillai Nagarajan violated the guidelines issued by the NHRC and SHRC and the judgment of the Supreme Court.[4]

Case 3: Haryana SHRC directs State Government to pay compensation of Rs. 20,000 to torture victim

In first week of April 2019, the Haryana State Human Rights Commission directed the State Government to pay a compensation of Rs. 20,000 to Mahender Singh, who was tortured at a police station in Sonepat district in September 2016. The Commission asked the State Government to recover the amount from the guilty head constable identified as Sushil Rawal. The victim, a resident of Bhora Rasulpur village in Sonepat district had complained that he had sought police help to resolve a dispute with his brother, Subhas fearing that it might escalate. Subsequently, ASI Ramesh took Mahender and his brother to the police station in Ganaur, and went for patrol duty. Later that night, Head Constable Sushil Rawal came to the police station in an inebriated state. After inquiring from Mahender about the election to the post of sarpanch, the head constable began beating him up with a stick and an electric wire while abusing him in the name of his caste. Following the Commission’s intervention, a police inquiry report stated that the head constable had shown “indiscipline and dereliction towards his duty” and a departmental inquiry had been initiated against him. In its order, the Commission stated that the complainant produced photographs showing injury marks on his back and a copy of the medico-legal report. It also observed that the head constable had beaten up Mahender without any reason and his action was unjustified and a violation of human rights.[5]

Case 4: Tamil Nadu SHRC directs State Government to pay compensation of Rs. 2 lakh to torture victim

On 5 April 2019, The Indian Express reported that the Tamil Nadu SHRC directed the State Government to pay a compensation of Rs. 25,000 to a torture victim and initiate disciplinary action against the guilty police officer. The victim identified as Thirunavukkarasu, a daily wage labourer from Thanjavur was picked up by the police for investigation in a case in April 2015. Karthi, then Sub-Inspector of the Taluk police station at Kumbakonam, detained the victim illegally in the station and subjected him to torture and threatened to put him in prison. Later, Thirunavukkarasu underwent treatment in the government headquarters hospital at Kumbakonam and lodged a complaint with the SHRC, seeking suitable action against the police officer for violation of human rights. On the basis of oral and documentary evidence, the SHRC in its order held that the gruesome act committed by the SI was the worst example of cruelty and lawlessness amounting to a violation of human rights of the complainant. The SHRC asked the State Government to recover the compensation from the police officer and initiate disciplinary action against him.[6]

Case 5: Odisha HRC directs SP, Jajpur district to submit report on illegal detention and torture of social activist

On 5 April 2019, local English daily, The Orissa Post reported that the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) directed the Superintendent of Police, Jajpur district to submit a report within four weeks regarding an alleged police torture and detention of a social activist in the district. The OHRC also deputed a team to Jajpur to investigate the incident. The social activist, Tapan Padhi was allegedly picked up by police from his resident at Choudwar in Cuttack district on 17 March 2019 and detained him at Panikoili police station. The activist was kept in custody for two days and allegedly tortured before sending him to jail. The incident came to light when a group from the civil society met the social activist in Jajpur sub-jail on 21 March 2019. Subsequently, a group of activists had met OHRC member Justice Das and raised the issue.[7]

Case 6: NHRC issued notice to Assam Government over payment of compensation in custodial death

On 4 April 2019, the National Human Rights Commission issued show cause notice to the Chief Secretary, Assam in the custodial death of Nikhil Mandal, s/o Ashwini Mandal in Chirang district of the State on 5 May 2018. In the notice, the NHRC asked why it should not recommend a compensation of Rs. 10,00,000 to the next of kin of the deceased. The NHRC took cognizance of the case on 29 May 2018 following intimation received from Superintendent of Police, Chirang district. As per reports submitted to the Commission, Nikhil Mandal allegedly committed suicide with the help of a piece of cloth (gamocha) which he was wearing in the lock-up of Panbari Forest Range Office. The Magisterial Enquiry Report, however, observed that negligence of duty on part of Pranab Kumar Das, In-charge of the Forest Range Officer and other officials cannot be ruled out.[8]

On the basis of the Magisterial Enquiry Report, the Commission noted “In custodial death cases, it is the embodied duty of the State to protect the life and liberty of a person under its custody in which it failed. The Magisterial Enquiry Report concluded that precautionary measures were not taken to station a guard outside lock-up to avoid such untoward incident and negligence of duty on part of I/c Panbari Forest Range Officer and other officials is established, hence State is vicariously liable to compensate the NoK of the deceased Nikhil Mandal.”[9]

Case 7: Maharashtra SHRC directs State Government to compensate an elderly woman for delay in registering FIR

On 3 April 2019, The Times of India reported that the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission directed the State Government to pay Rs. 200,000 to an elderly woman due to unreasonable delay of four years in registering an FIR by police in a case of forgery against a builder. In its order, the SHRC observed that due to serious lapse by a police officer for not registering the FIR immediately, the human rights of the complainant had been violated. The SHRC also directed the State’s Director General of Police to circulate the Supreme Court guidelines on registration in case of serious offences to ensure police register FIRs promptly. The guidelines make it mandatory for police to register an FIR when a cognizable offence is reported. In her complaint, the 75-year-old woman, resident of Vile Parle, stated that police had failed to register an FIR against a builder and others over forgery in a slum rehabilitation project. The woman had named a senior police inspector and a sub-inspector and said she was made to “run from pillar to post” since July 2014. She said her house was demolished and she was left stranded. In November 2018, the SHRC issued a showcause notice asking why no action should be initiated against the errant officer under the Protection of Human Rights Act.[10]

Case 8: Tamil Nadu SHRC directs a police inspector to pay compensation to torture victim and directs State Government to initiate disciplinary action

On 2 April 2019, the Tamil Nadu State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) imposed a fine of Rs.  50,000 on a police inspector on the charge of harassment and filing false case against an owner of a company. The SHRC also recommended the State Government to initiate disciplinary action against him. In his petition, K. Gnanavel @ Tamilselvan stated that he was running a Profit Trading Academy and giving training and awareness to people about online share market. A local resident P.S. Manohar joined as a member in the Fortune Trading Corporation and invested a sum of Rs 1 lakh. Due to inflation, Manohar lost his amount. In order to collect the amount from Gnanavel, he lodged a false complaint to the Trichy Government Hospital police station against the trainer. On 2 December 2014, two sub-inspectors and two constables came to his office and directed him to appear before the Crime Branch Police, Woraiyur. When he visited the police station, Kennedy, inspector of police (Crime), Woraiyur police station, Trichy city, abused him. His office manager Madava Prakash also came to the police station. Kennedy assaulted Prakash and sustained injuries. Gnanavel assured the cop that he would pay Rs 55,000 shortly. Gnanavel said the action of Kennedy not in accordance with law and he ill-treated him and had violated his human rights. In the reply, Kennedy denied all the allegations in the complaint.[11]

However, SHRC judge D. Jayachandran said the action on the part of Kennedy was in not in accordance with law and he interfered in the civil matter, called upon complainant to the police station and tortured him to execute a letter to pay a sum of Rs 55,000 to Manohar for reasons best known to him. Therefore, Kennedy had violated the human rights of Gnanavel and accordingly passed the order.[12]

Case 9: Arunachal Pradesh pays Rs. 50,000 to minor for illegal detention in compliance with NHRC order

On 1 April 2019, the National Human Rights Commission closed the case of illegal detention of a minor boy at Diyun police station in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh after the State government paid Rs. 50,000 in compliance with its order. The 16-year-old minor victim was arrested and detained at the lock-up of the police station for nearly one month in August 2012. Following intervention by the NHRC, the police conducted an inquiry and found that two police officials attached to Diyun police station had violated the Juvenile Justice Act and disciplinary action was initiated against them. However, there was delay in payment of the compensation to the victim. The case was filed by Asian Centre for Human Rights.[13]


Endnotes:

[1]. Monthly Salient Statistics of Cases registered/disposed by NHRC during March 2019, National Human Rights Commission, data as on 08.04.2019, http://nhrc.nic.in/complaints/human-right-case-statistics

[2]. Monthly Salient Statistics of Cases registered/disposed by NHRC during March 2019, National Human Rights Commission, data as on 08.04.2019, http://nhrc.nic.in/complaints/human-right-case-statistics

[3]. Pay Rs 75K to businessman for harassment by police: State Human Rights Commission, The Indian Express, 16 April 2019, http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2019/apr/16/pay-rs-75k-to-businessman-for-harassment-by-police-shrc-1964856.html

[4]. SHRC fines cop Rs 50,000 for assaulting activist, The Deccan Chroncile, 9 April 2019, https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/090419/shrc-fines-cop-rs-50000-for-assaulting-activist.html

[5]. Beaten up by cop, Sonepat man to get Rs 20K relief – Human rights commission wants govt to recover money from head constable, The Tribune, 8 April 2019, https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/beaten-up-by-cop-sonepat-man-to-get-rs-20k-relief/754950.html

[6]. Tamil Nadu Human Rights Commission directs SI to pay Rs 25000 to man injured during police probe, The New Indian Express, 5 April 2019, http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2019/apr/05/tamil-nadu-human-rights-commission-directs-si-to-pay-rs-25000-to-man-injured-during-police-probe-1960391.html

[7]. OHRC seeks report on police torture, The Orissa Post, 5 April 2019, http://www.orissapost.com/ohrc-seeks-report-on-police-torture/

[8]. NHRC Case No. 115/3/0/2018-PCD

[9]. NHRC Case No. 115/3/0/2018-PCD

[10]. Police delay FIR, rights panel orders Rs 2 lakh relief to woman, The Times of India, 3 April 2019, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/police-delay-fir-rights-panel-orders-rs-2-lakh-relief-to-woman/articleshowprint/68697918.cms

[11]. SHRC fines cops Rs 50,000 on charges of harassment, filing false case, The Deccan Chronicle, 3 April 2019, https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/030419/shrc-fines-cops-rs-50000-on-charges-of-harassment-filing-false-case.html

[12]. SHRC fines cops Rs 50,000 on charges of harassment, filing false case, The Deccan Chronicle, 3 April 2019, https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/030419/shrc-fines-cops-rs-50000-on-charges-of-harassment-filing-false-case.html

[13]. NHRC Case No. 18/2/4/2012

Share the story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *