Strengthening the Rights Commission
IFP Editorial: The Manipur Human Rights Commission still remains a paper tiger, powerless without adequate support staff. The government needs to come clean on why a full-fledged chairperson and another member is not appointed.
Updated 15 Dec 2021, 10:03 pm
The Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) acting chairperson Khaidem Mani once complained that MHRC’s rights are being violated by the state government by not providing adequate infrastructure and staff, right in front of the state Law Minister Th Satyabarta Singh. The acting chairperson expressed sadness against the state government for not fulfilling the proposal made to provide adequate staff and infrastructure of MHRC. Despite multiple proposals made, the government is yet to fulfil the demands, he added.
The Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) was set up on June 27, 1998 following several allegations of human rights violations in the insurgency-afflicted Manipur under the Protection of the Human Rights Commission Act, 1993. It remained defunct for eight years and three months. It was only on June 25, 2018 that the BJP-led government revived the MHRC. However, it has appointed a single member only who also acts as the Chairperson. We failed to understand why it is partial to the Human Rights Commission only. Almost all other Commissions, including the State Information Commission have multiple members. Even the watchdog of public corruption Lok Ayukta has a Chairperson and two members. In the initial years of the Human Rights Commission, a chairperson and two members were appointed. But, the BJP government appointed only one member. The government needs to come clean on why a full-fledged chairperson and another member is not appointed. Is it because of non-availability of qualified persons or of sheer arrogance?
Like that of other governments in the past, the Commission still remains a paper tiger, powerless without adequate support staff. Many facilities, including infrastructure, and much-needed staff are yet to be made available. There were just three employees appointed by the state government. The present acting chairperson Khaidem Mani was a Human rights activist and lawyer before he was appointed to the post. He wants the Commission to be adequately staffed having four segments namely administration, law, investigations and research and analysis.
A case was taken up against the Manipur Chief Secretary in this connection on May 22, 2020. The government had issued a notification on May 25, saying that the MHRC will henceforth be a full-fledged office and not a government-aided one. Even with the present circumstances, if one is imaginative he can do a lot with the limited resources he has. The state agencies had been repeatedly complaining about the Human Right groups not taking up cases of human rights violations by non-state actors and that they are targeting the state actors only. But, we do not want to discuss here the merits of the issue raised by state agencies.
We are simply interested in the jurisdiction of the human rights commissions in the domain of civil rights vis-à-vis the private organisations. The directive regarding police atrocity is all right as human rights commissions are especially established to look into violations by state actors. Its functions include monitoring of human rights violations, dispute resolution through adjudication or mediation, human rights education, documentation and research, advising governments on human rights issues and human rights standard-setting.
First published:15 Dec 2021, 10:00 pm