SHRI EKANATH K. THAKUR (MAHARASHTRA): Thank you, Sir. Sir, I am speaking on this in a broader perspective. In the entire discussion that has gone before, I believe that a very, very constricted, a very, very myopic view, a very, very purblind view of the word or the term 'human rights' is being taken. I would have wished the hon. Minister had brought certain consequential and supporting legislation to this Act of 1993. This Act says in this definition clause, in section 2(d) that "human rights" means the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied by it. Sir, through your honour, I would like to point out to this House that like liberty, equality and dignity, not only these words alone, but under this section, you know which is enlarged now, under 2(f), you are saying that you are going to abide by covenants and conventions of the United Nations not only up to 1966, but you are going to abide even up till today. And what are these covenants? I have worked on behalf of this country in a body of the United Nations and those covenants relate to civil, political, economic, social and even cultural rights as human rights. But, Sir, whenever this House takes up a discussion on human rights, they seem to take it in terms of a treatment or a trial or torture or trauma of an individual in police custody or, maybe, in prison. They also take that opportunity to spit venom, demonise the Opposition Party and bring in issues relating to minority and say that this was the atrocity committed on minorities. I for one, would wish that when we are talking of human rights, we should look to everybody as human and not as a party man or partisan man because ‡ÓÃÖÖ®Ö ²ÖÆãüŸÖ ×´Ö»ÖŸÖê Æïü ‡ÓÃÖÖ×®ÖµÖŸÖ ®ÖÆüà ×´Ö»ÖŸÖß… ´Öï®Öê ÛúÆüÖ £ÖÖ ×Ûú -
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SHRI EKANATH K. THAKUR: You may be an agnostic, or you may be an atheist, I do not know. But, I will tell you that this country, if it has to be a modern and progressive country, it has to visualise India with real human rights. And, Sir, my Party Chief, Shri Bal Thakare sees human rights in a different perspective. He thinks human rights as, first, the right to life, second, it is the right to food, third, it is the right to work, fourth, the right to environment, and fifth, the right to health, sixth, the right to proper education. Today, this morning, we had a lecture on 'Millennium Goals" in this session, which was specifically arranged by an expert. I don't want to go into that. But, you have to see what is the progress in this. In case of rights of children, what is the progress?
(Continued by PK/2K)
SHRI EKANATH K. THAKUR (CONTD.): Millions and millions of children are dying hungry. They are out of school. ×•ÖÃÖ ¤êü¿Ö ÛúÖ ²Ö“Ö¯Ö®Ö ³ÖæÜÖÖ ÆüÖê, ˆÃÖÛúß •Ö¾ÖÖ®Öß ŒµÖÖ ÆüÖêÝÖß? And what are we talking of human rights? One policeman! There are going to be good, bad and indifferent people in all societies, in all sections and in all institutions. If we conceive that as a human right and wax eloquent on that and enter into technicalities as to how the pool of judges will be available, and so on and so forth, are we delivering justice to them? ¸üÖê™üß, Ûú¯Ö›ÍüÖ †Öî¸ü ´ÖÛúÖ®Ö ŒµÖÖ Æü´Ö®Öê ×¤üµÖÖ Æîü? Today, according to the Government, 26 per cent people are Below Poverty Line. What is their definition? If you take the definition of the United Nations, or the World Bank, the people living below one dollar a day are poor. There are 35 crores people. And, Sir, it is two dollars a day, I have said it earlier, is what the OECD countries...(Interruptions)..
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (SHRI KALRAJ MISHRA): Your allotted time is five minutes only.
SHRI EKANATH K. THANKUR: ... what Europe and America spend on cattle, on a bullock, or an oxen or a cow. They spend two dollars a day on an animal. If you take that as a definition, 80 per cent of our people are poor. They are dying. They are dying of hunger. The people are committing suicides. The Government should bring in a legislation to say that our policy is 'zero starvation death' and for 'zero starvation' ³ÖãÜÖ´Ö¸üß ®ÖÆüà ÆüÖêÝÖß… Here, it is a Government of India. And, anybody who has no food, there is a facility there where he can go and take food for the day. That can be done. That has been done by many Governments. Is our Government doing that? We are talking only of police torture. There are societies; there are going to be these kinds of tortures. I do condemn the tortures, traumas, prisoners and others, just as I do condemn atrocities, whether they are genocides or no genocides, atrocities of every kind, whether they are Muslim atrocities on Hindus, or Hindu atrocities on Muslims; I condemn them. I also condemn atrocities on the Sikhs which everybody has forgotten. But sitting in Delhi, we can't forget the atrocities on Sikhs. So, why use every occasion to flog the Opposition? I would urge upon the hon. Home Minister, and I know he has very good intentions, and he hopes also to see an India where all these rights, which I said, as the rights should come to us naturally as human rights. In terms of guarantee by way of law, they have to come. I hope that some day these laws will come here under which we will live and consider real human rights, guaranteed human rights like Right to Food, (Time-bell), Right to Work, Right to Employment, Right to Health, and Right to Education. Thank you.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (SHRI KALRAJ MISHRA): Shri Praveen Rashtrapal, you have seven minutes.
SHRI PRAVEEN RASHTRAPAL (GUJARAT): Mr. Vice-Chairman, Sir, we belong to a sovereign republic which is not only democratic, but it is also socialist and secular. If we understand this name of our nation very well, it will be very easy to understand what the human rights are, and what mechanism we should introduce in view of the wishes declared by the Indian Constitution. Because, the Constitution has ensured its citizens liberty, equality, fraternity and justice. These are not ordinary things. The said Constitution has also referred to fundamental rights of the citizens, and, these fundamental rights given in the Indian Constitution are more or less human rights of the citizens in this country. One of my colleagues referred to the work not being done by the National Commission for Hindus, or Indian citizens residing in other countries. We should understand that this Commission has got a geographical jurisdiction in the country only. In that case, it will be very difficult for the National Human Rights Commission of India to go to other countries and help the Indian citizens. (Contd. by2L/PB)
SHRI PRAVEEN RASHTRAPAL (CONTD.): But all other covenants are there by the UNO. I refer to an All World Conference called by the UNO Human Rights Commission when Mary Robinson was the Chairman of the UNO Human Rights Commission, and that Commission took place in Geneva. The subject of the Commission was 'Discrimination on the basis of Race, Caste, Descent and Work'. And, at that time, the then Government of India took a stand that there is no discrimination in this country on the basis of race, caste and descent. I am extremely happy to inform this House that the National Human Rights Commission took a correct stand that in this country, in spite of freedom, in spite of fifty years of freedom, there is discrimination on the basis of caste, there is discrimination on the basis of work, and there is discrimination on the basis of descent. And, for that, again the said Commission took a historical stand in a State of this country when a majoritism was working against the minoritism by a State-sponsored terrorism and a particular minority was to be annihilated by a State-sponsored programme. At that time, it was the National Human Rights Commission which came to the rescue of the victims in that particular State. My senior friend, Mr. Jaitley, who is also elected from Gujarat questioned, "Why are you switching over from 'Chief Justice' to 'Judge'?" In a way, he is right. But, at the same time, I would like to know from him, why a State Human Rights Commission in the State of Gujarat was not appointed all these years. The Chief Justice was available there, but why couldn't the State Government constitute the State Human Rights Commission? I know the reason. If he is able to tell me the reason afterwards also, I will be very happy to know that. But I do not want to go into that discussion.
Now, Sir, if we refer to the Indian Constitution, you have got the Right to Equality, you have got the Right to Freedom, you have got the Right against Exploitation, you have got the Right to Culture and Education and the last but the most important right, which is relevant to this Commission, is the Right to Constitutional Remedies. Now, as far as these Constitutional Remedies are concerned, there only our Commission can help us. There are ordinary rights, there are civil rights and the Fundamental Rights as enshrined in the Indian Constitution. We have got district level courts, we have got State level courts, and we have got the Supreme Court, where you get legal remedies. But for that, a citizen has to go to court. A citizen is required to take assistance from a lawyer. A citizen is required to spend money. It is very expensive. The justice is not cheap. The justice is not speedy because of the volume of work and various specific laws that are there. If those violations are taken care of speedily by these courts, whether it is district, State or at national level, it would have been be helpful. The National Human Rights Commission is the only Commission which can intervene when there is an exploitation of a worker by an employer, when there is injustice on the minority by the majority, when there is atrocity on a so-called lower caste by the higher caste, when there is atrocity on a woman by man, when there is atrocity on a child by a major, when there is exploitation of rural unemployed or urban unemployed, etc. All these things, which are directly concerned with the right of a human being, will not be taken care of by any court, and it is here where we require presence of a National Human Rights Commission. So, I am here only to support the Bill; I am here only to support the mechanism, but, at the same time, I want the attention of the hon. Home Minister that let this Commission be the most powerful Commission in this country because, day-by-day, the atrocities on the weaker sections, the atrocities on the women, the atrocities on the minorities, the exploitation of children in the name of adoption, the exploitation of tribal women in the name of marriage by the rich people, are all increasing which were not there before twenty or thirty years ago.
(Contd. by 2m/SKC)
SHRI PRAVEEN RASHTRAPAL (CONTD.): So, only the National Human Rights Commission can help. For that, I wish to say that more and more powers must be given to the National Human Rights Commission. At this stage, I shall quote Justice M.P. Thakkar, from a lecture he made twenty years ago. The title of the lecture was "Law as an instrument for socio-ethical revolution". Justice Thakkar was a Judge in the Gujarat High Court. Then he retired from the Supreme Court. Now, he is no more with us, but he was a most revolutionary judge, as we can understand from some of his judgements.
Sir, I quote from his lecture: "Law is the expression of common will of the society, which must reflect its aims and aspirations. Law mirrors the code of conduct, which the society expects from its constituents, and reflects ethically the conscience of the society. Can anyone imagine the enforcement of an unjust or unethical law? Law sanctions pro-social conduct and condemns anti-social conduct. Surely, the society cannot impose on its constituents conduct, which will damage or destroy itself. In no society can the law tolerate or encourage that is anti-social and condemns what promote social objectives. Law cannot, therefore, shut its eyes to the monster of economic exploitation and injustice".
Now, no court would interfere in a case of exploitation of a poor man; only the National Human Rights Commission can intervene; only the National Human Rights Commission can work effectively. Hence, I would request the hon. Home Minister that this Commission may be given more powers, powers of direct jurisdiction and more support. Matters like reducing the number of judges, persons to be appointed, and so on may be left to the Government; a permanent mechanism may be in place in consultation with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or the respective High Court Chief Justice. But, what is required is, more and more powers to the National Human Rights Commission. Thank you, Sir. (Ends)
SHRI N. JOTHI (TAMIL NADU): Sir, I shall speak only on a few points. I would request the hon. Home Minister to consider a few suggestions that I wish to make.
Sir, as per Section 3 of the original Act and Section 21, members of the State Human Rights Commission are appointed, of which other than the Chairperson and Members, two members shall be appointed. Section 3 reads, 'Two members to be appointed from amongst persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights. What I wish to submit is, Sir, you may add further, after 'human rights', 'of which one shall be a woman member'. A woman member needs to be accommodated here.
SHRIMATI S.G. INDIRA (TAMIL NADU): Sir, I associate myself with the point made by the hon. Member.
SHRIMATI BRINDA KARAT: Yes, yes.
SHRI N. JOTHI: Sir, to my knowledge, almost all States and also the Central Government, has got only male members. This is subject to what the hon. Home Minister has to say. I would like this to be done to both in the constitution of the State Commissions as well as while constituting the National Commission.
Sir, there is yet another thing that I wish to say. Kindly go through Clause 5(3). In clause 5, the disqualifications with respect to persons who are functioning as members have been given; hon. Minister may look at page 3 where it has been enumerated. For example, a member may be disqualified if he is adjudged an insolvent, engages in private trade, is unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body, and others. I am referring to clause 5(3)(c) of the Bill. Of course, I accept that it is mentioned in the main Act itself. It is high time we pay a little more attention to that. (Contd. by 2n/hk)
SHRI N. JOTHI (CONTD.): In the Bill, it is mentioned that the President can pass order for the removal of Member. But there is a disparity that I could see and genuinely feel. It is said, "He is unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind"? Immediately following it is, "If he is of unsound mind." What is the difference between the 'infirmity of mind' and 'of unsound mind'. Both are one and the same - he is incapable of acting. That is all. Maybe, at intervals, one may behave badly or one may behave very badly continuously. In any way, he cannot be a fit person. So, he is unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or unsound mind, both are one and the same. Of course, it is there in the parent Act itself. The hon. Minister can pay a little attention on that. Thirdly, I would like to insert one particular disqualification. I am telling this out of my experience in my State. Sir, one particular member was charge-sheeted for having violating Dowry Prohibition Act. He faced the trial. He was the member of the State Human Rights Commission. He went to the Court and stood as an accused person in dock, but he continued to be a member of the State Human Rights Commission. However, he was a charge-sheeted person but there was no scope for removal of that person at all. He continued and exploited his full term. Sir, we discuss that charge-sheeted politicians should be thrown out and they should be disqualified from contesting elections. Then, how could a charge-sheeted person be member of the State Human Rights Commission? I think, if his behaviour leads to moral turpitude, he must be removed. I go a step further. If a member is charge-sheeted -- I am not saying about private complaint cases -- he cannot function as Human Rights Commission member. Please pay little attention on these suggestions. Thank you.
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SHRI C. PERUMAL (TAMIL NADU): Sir, I rise to speak on the Bill. This is an important Bill considering increasing incidents of gross violation of human rights. But the unfortunate thing about this is that majority of the population are not aware of such a provision. Unless a legislation is brought to the notice of the general public, I believe there is no use in going on making laws. We see that only important cases are filed and taken up by the Commission. We all know that courts take a long time in the disposal of cases. Therefore, this Bill has been brought.
The offices of the Commission are located in State capitals or in big cities; they are not located in district headquarters or in rural areas and as such the people living in the rural areas neither have access to this nor they know about it. I demand that an office of the Commission should be set up in every district headquarters. Another important factor is that wide publicity should be given about the Commission.
The Human Rights Commission has been created so that there should not be any delay in the disposal of cases. So, its orders should be implemented by all concerned. The Commission should not delay the cases and wherever necessary award interim relief. Moreover, the vacancies in the Commission should be filled without any delay. And a Woman Member should also be appointed.
It has been observed that in many cases, in many States, a different charge is filed for an offence. If a person is accused of a simple offence, he is booked for a big offence, for example, possession of heroin. Thereafter, the victim is forced to accept the crime by giving him harsh treatment. This sort of thing should not happen. The Human Rights Commission should look into this and take stringent action against police personnel. The Commission should send a circular to all the State Governments regarding this.
I strongly demand that the Commission should be given enough powers; otherwise, its purpose will not be served. Nowadays, the Right to Information Act is being given wide publicity. Likewise, this Act should also be given wide publicity. This Act should be made effective to serve the purpose it was intended for. Thank you, Sir.
SHRI ARUN JAITLEY: I am sorry, Sir, for this indulgence. We have a Privilege Committee meeting. So, I may have to go for ten minutes before I come back.
Yesterday, when we opened this debate, we were very grateful to the hon. Minister when he indicated that he was probably going to accept some of the suggestions. One suggestion, which he may consider in the course of his reply, is regarding one of the amendments proposed here. When Mrs. Karat was speaking, the hon. Minister intervened to say that there was a difficulty because if any individual could move the NHRC, then obviously any court would also be entitled to make a reference to the NHRC. The difficulty would be that you are making one basic change in the Act. Earlier, composition and constitution of the Commission at the national level was mandatory. The words used in the Act were that "there shall be a National Human Rights Commission." As far as State Governments were concerned, the word used was, "may." That is now probably being rightly amended by you; and now every State is mandated to have a Commission. Would it not be appropriate that the National Commission gets references essentially from the Supreme Court and the High Courts, and the State- level Commissions gets references from any court which may include the Supreme Court, the High Court, or even any magisterial court? Because otherwise what will happen is that if the NHRC gets flooded with complaints from the magisterial courts as well, then there may be a difficulty. Even though you are bringing an amendment empowering the NHRC to transfer complaints from itself to the State Commissions, it may be entitled to transfer complaints it receives from the public or an aggrieved citizen to the State Commission, .. (Contd. by VKK/2P)
SHRI ARUN JAITLEY (CONTD.): ...once a court, even a magisterial court, directs the NHRC to look into a complaint, it may not be empowered to transfer that complaint to the State Commission. Therefore, magisterial courts, if you create a separate provision, may make a complaint to the State Commission itself. (Ends)
THE MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS (SHRI SHIVRAJ V. PATIL): I hope you will be here in the House to hear the reply. Sir, I would like to thank the hon. Members for having shown so much of interest in the amendments suggested to this law by the Government and for having given very good suggestions.
Sir, I would like to limit my comments to the general principles relating to the human rights, then to the amendments suggested by the Government, then to the amendments suggested by the hon. Members and then conclude my reply on this Bill.
In India, the Constitution provides that the citizens have Fundamental Rights and all the Fundamental Rights are nothing, but human rights. The basic law provides that citizens have Fundamental Rights, not only they have Fundamental Rights, but these Fundamental Rights can be enforced by moving the courts under article 32 and article 226. That is one of the most important aspects relating to the Fundamental Rights available to the citizens in our country. Then, there are laws under which the Fundamental Rights are protected. For instance, the Prevention of Untouchability Act is one of the most important laws which protects the Fundamental Rights of the citizens in our country.
SHRI ARUN JAITLEY: I will be just back.
SHRI SHIVRAJ V. PATIL: We all know that in the Legislatures, in the Parliament as well as in the State Legislatures, questions are asked from the Government as to how the Fundamental Rights were violated and as to how the Government failed to protect the Fundamental Rights of the citizens. That is one of the most powerful instruments available to the representatives of the people to protect the Fundamental rights. We have a strong judiciary in our country. At the apex is the Supreme Court, at the penultimate level are the High Courts, and at District and Taluk levels, there are courts. Through these courts, the Fundamental Rights given to the citizens are protected and, fortunately, for us, we have a very, very strong media in our country. Every violation of a Fundamental Right is highlighted in the media, in the newspapers and now, on televisions. Those facts are brought to the notice of the Government and the people in the country. Media is a very powerful instrument of creating public opinion. Though media does not have the power to punish anybody directly, yet the public opinion is so strong that the Fundamental Rights of the citizens are protected. Over and above this, we created the Human Rights Commission. Initially, this Human Rights Commission, the National Human Rights Commission, was brought into existence and later on, it was provided in the law itself that the State Governments may have the State Human Rights Commissions. This is over and above what was already available to the people in the country. (Contd. by TMV/2q)
SHRI SHIVRAJ V. PATIL (CONTD.): Sir, over and above all these things, in my opinion, what is really helping is the ethos of the people. The people in the country are themselves protecting the human rights of one another. For every man committing a crime or violation of human rights, we have hundreds and thousands of people, 99 per cent of the people, protecting the human rights. What is it that is helping us to protect our human rights? When I say this, I do say that there are exceptions to the rule and those exceptions should not be considered in order to come to the correct conclusion. What is the ethos, what is our attitude towards life in India should not be forgotten. The most important thing in our country is that not only we respect and protect the human rights of our neighbours but also we respect and protect some rights, not human rights, of the living creatures. We respect even trees. We respect even animals. That is our attitude towards life and it is really helping us.
Sir, I remember about my visit to China. When I was in China, I was invited by the Members of the Legislature for dinner. One of the Members sitting with us, who was there at the dinner, asked me, "How many Gods do you have in your country?". I thought it was a very mischievous question asked to me. A Chinese Member of Legislature asking me as to how many Gods we have in our country! I was looking around. Mr. Vajpayee was there; Mr. Rabi Ray was there; so many other Members were sitting there. I was all the time looking at them to get some clue as to how to reply to that question. But they started smiling and they said, "This is a question, as you know, which you may or may not reply". But then I tried to reply and I said, "We have 90 crore Gods in our country". When I said this, he asked, "Where are the temples built for these Gods?". I said, "Every human being is a temple and what is inside him is the God". This is not an answer which can't be understood by any Indian, but his reply to that answer of mine was really very interesting. That gentleman got up from his seat; he came to me; he took my hand and he shook my hand for nearly two or three minutes. I was surprised why he was so much impressed with God, the number of Gods and things like that. He said, "Mao Zedong also used to tell us that unless you treat other human beings as Gods, you would not be able to treat them as equal people". That was the most stunning reply given to me by him. Now, that is the kind of approach. You are not treating the other human beings not equally, but above you. You are respecting him as some divine personality. Then only you respect him. This is the ethos; this is the approach that the Indians followed. I would say not only Indians but also all the people in the world. "Do unto others as you would have others to do unto yourself". This is what the Bible says. This is what Jesus taught his disciples. Now, what is that? Unless you treat others as you would have others treat you, you are not going to respect his human rights or you are not going to give him any importance. The same thing is said in Quran Sharief and in Islamic philosophy also. The same thing is said in all others. Now, these things have been protecting the human rights not only in our country but also throughout the world. (Contd. by VK/2R)
SHRI SHIVRAJ V. PATIL (CONTD): The United Nations has given us two covenants. One is a covenant on political and civil rights and the second covenant is a covenant on economic, social and cultural human rights. I am very sorry to say that as far as the covenant on political and civil rights is concerned -- one of the hon. Members did refer to it in his speech -- we have taken a lot many steps to protect the human rights mentioned in the covenant on political and civil rights. But we have not taken enough steps to protect the human rights mentioned in the covenant on economic, social and cultural human rights. We have not. That is the difficulty. There is discrimination against the human rights of those who can go to the court and human rights of those who cannot go to the court; human rights to lead a good life and human rights to exist, to live. As far as human right to live a good life is concerned, we are there. But as far as the right to leave is concerned, we are not. Now so far as the right to make a good speech or a bad speech is concerned, it is given. But the right to work is not given. Right to food is not given. Right to help is not given. Right to education is not given. If it is not given, is there any discrimination against or not? What do we do with that? One of the things which has to be considered by us is, all the time, when we talk about human rights, we talk about something which goes against the establishment, against the Government servants, against the police, against the officers in the Government service. But is that enough? I am asking a question. If there is an establishment in which the small children are working, you are blaming the officers, but you are not blaming the persons who are employing them. Now if a person is sitting in a rickshaw being drawn by a human being, whom are you going to criticise? You may criticise the Government. But are you criticising the person who is sitting in that rickshaw? If you are not doing that, are you really concerned about the real human rights? Are you trying to be political or are you trying to gain some points over the statement made by some other person? If it is not there, probably, we shall have to do a lot many things. But fortunately or unfortunately, what is there is there and we are trying to improve upon what is available to us. It is also said 'law is nothing but balancing the interest of all in the society'. This is an effort to balance, to some extent, not fully, the interests of all in the society. This is so far as human rights are concerned. If we are really concerned about the human rights, it will not be sufficient to talk about the human rights which are violated by the Government servants or the policemen or persons like that. We shall have to talk about the violation of human rights by all of us against the weaker sections of the society or against anybody who is not in a position to protect himself. Unless we adopt that attitude, it is not going to be possible to really protect the human rights.
Now I come to the amendments. This law was passed in 1993. Later on it was felt that some improvement should be made in the law. So, in 1998, a Committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Justice Ahmedi. That Committee gave its report in 1999. That report was then considered by the Inter-Ministerial Committee constituted by the then Government in 2000. They accepted it. Then the Inter-Ministerial Committee gave its report. This report was lying with the Ministry. After we came, we said that if the Committee was appointed, if the report was given and if the Inter-Ministerial Committee has also given the report, why should we not act upon that? (Contd. by 2S)
SHRI SHIVRAJ V. PATIL (CONTD.): That was why, we drafted the Bill. And who were the members of the Inter-Ministerial Committee? Mr. Jaitley is not here. The Law Ministry's Joint Secretary was a member of that Committee. And they accepted the suggestions given by the Justice Ahmedi Committee. They are the suggestions with which we have come to this House. It is not we who drafted it. It is they who had done it. We accepted it, and we have come with it. If this is so, and, then, if there is any mistake, we will certainly correct it. But, then, to say that we are trying to slip this into this agreement, as stated in this amendment, is not being really fair to us. We are not slipping it into this amending Bill. This was done when they were in power. This has to be remembered by us.
Sir, having said this much, when this matter was drafted into a Bill, this Bill came here; it was referred to the Standing Committee. And who is the Chairman of the Standing Committee? ...(Interruptions)... I am not asking the Members from this side alone, the ruling side, but from that side also. And they gave the Report. When they gave the Report, when Justice Ahmedi had given the Report, when the Inter-Ministerial Committee had looked into it, when the matter was sent to the Standing Committee, and when the Standing Committee said, "Look, they made certain suggestions. All the suggestions they made, we accepted in toto." And, then, we brought that Bill from the Cabinet to this House. Here also, they are making a good point and a very valid point. The point which is being made is this. I am leaving aside the innuendoes and all those things; that is not necessary; that is not the point. But the point they are making is that if the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission was to be the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or the Chief Justice of the High Court, it gives a prestige to the Commission, and that should not be diluted. I think, it is a very, very correct suggestion. When this was brought to my notice, I had said, "Why should we say that the Chief Justice should not be there as Chairman?" And they were telling me, "Look, we have tried to have the Chief Justices on many other Committees, and it has not been possible for us. That is why we are suggesting that if the retired Chief Justice is available, let him be appointed. But if he is not available, then any other judge of the Supreme Court for the National Commission and any other judge of the High Court for the State Commission should be appointed." And that is why, we have the Inter-State Council. It has not been possible for us to find persons who can do it. And, then, many other Commissions are there, in which they have all the time said 'the Chief Justice or the Justice', 'the Chief Justice or the Justice'. And if I remember correctly, a letter was written by the Kerala Government saying that they were not finding a person to appoint as the Chairman of the Commission. And this is coming.......(Interruptions)...
SHRI A.K. ANTONY: He is trying to argue like this that of all the retired Chief Justices, nobody was willing. Ultimately, we were compelled to write to the retired or the Acting Chief Justice.
SHRI SHIVRAJ V. PATIL: That was the difficulty. That is why, it is suggested. All the same, I am of the same view that in governance, what is important is not the danda. This is not important that the long notes have been written. But the prestige is helpful. And I do see the point which is being made by the hon. Members, and I am accepting the amendments suggested by Brinda Karatji and Mr. Arun Jaitley on these two points, i.e., the Chief Justice of India should be the Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee and the Chief Justice of the High Court should be the Chairman of State Human Rights Commission. And I am sorry, the other amendments I am not accepting. ...(Interruptions)...
AN HON. MEMBER: Retired Chief Justice.
SHRI S.S. AHLUWALIA: Of course, it is the retired Chief Justice.
SHRI SHIVRAJ V. PATIL: Retired Chief Justice, former Chief Justice.
(Contd. by RG/2T)
SHRI SHIVRAJ V. PATIL (contd.): Now this is the background. Let this be understood in clear terms. We don't have anybody in our mind. Moreover, no one person is going to appoint him. The Appointing Committee consists of the Prime Minister, the Speaker, the Presiding Officer of this House and the Leaders of the Opposition. Unless they concur on the name, no person can be appointed. So that was not the intention. But, probably, that was the kind of impression which was created, and that is where we have said these things.
Sir, one of the amendments which has been suggested is: "Don't allow the Magistrate to refer the matter to the Human Rights Commission." Now I am not in a position to accept this amendment. The scheme of the law that we have with us is this. Any person who feels that his human right is violated can go to the Court and get the remedy. Now if he thinks that going to the Human Rights Commission is easier and more helpful, he can go to the Human Rights Commission. He can make an application and can get the relief. Now what we are suggesting here is that if a matter is considered by a Magistrate, and he comes to the conclusion, after going through the record and going through the evidences, that it is not possible for him to give him the relief under the existing law, he can refer this matter to the Commission. It is not a direction; the Magistrate is not empowered to direct the Human Rights Commission to entertain his reference and go into it. He can refer it as an individual candidate. Now, the Human Rights Commission have been receiving applications and petitions. All applications received by them are not entertained; they are not gone into, and they are disposed of. If prima facie, there is no case, then, they don't go into the details. The same thing can apply here also. But if a Magistrate, who is in a better position to go through the records which have been produced before him, the evidences which have been produced before him, as an individual, can be allowed to make a reference to any of these Commissions, either the National Human Rights Commission or the State Human Rights Commission, why should there be any difficulty?(Interruptions)
SHRIMATI BRINDA KARAT: Sir, may I seek a clarification because I have moved an amendment on this issue?
Sir, another point here is that when the Magistrate refers a case to the National Human Rights Commission, the way it has been framed now, your present amendment is that, the Human Rights Commission will have to go back to the Magistrate and say what has happened with that case. You are saying that the Human Rights Commission have a choice either to accept the case or not to accept it. Now, if the Human Rights Commission does not accept a case which the Magistrate has referred, the Magistrate, in his order, may say, "You have to come back to us and tell us within such and such time what is happening with the case which we have referred to you." Our view is that the Magistrates can utilise their judicial authority because once you give them the reference authority, you are also giving them the authority to follow up on that reference. So, my only request is that if you are insistent, because you want to make it more widely accessible, then, please ensure that the Human Rights Commission has the right to reject it and does not have to go back to the Court. Otherwise, it will become subservient.
SHRI SHIVRAJ V. PATIL: Let us first understand that the Magistrate has no right to give a direction to the Human Rights Commission to conduct that inquiry in a particular manner. He is only referring the matter to them. Supposing there is a case before the Magistrate, and when he is hearing the case, if the facts disclose that certain persons were ill-treated in the jail, and the case has nothing to do with the ill-treatment given to him, he may say, "Let this be looked into." If there are a large number of people, that will be looked into. That does not mean that we, by amending this law, are authorising the Magistrate to direct the National Human Rights Commission to inquire into it and to report it to the Magistrate." (Continued by tdb/2U)
SHRI SHIVRAJ V. PATIL (CONTD.): It is not. This is not the arrangement. What is provided is, that if any individual can do it, in certain cases, if the magistrate comes to the conclusion that the person before him has his fundamental right, his human right violated, and he is dumb and mute and not capable of going to the Human Rights Commission, with a reference to the Human Rights Commission application, the magistrate is allowed to send that matter to him because he is in a better position to understand what is a human right, how it is violated, who has violated and all those things. He can direct it. It does not mean anything at all. There is nothing more than that. ...(Interruptions)... And, moreover, you have to understand the total procedural system which is available in the country to understand the implications of this thing. It is not going to create any authority over and above the National Human Rights Commission. The arrangement is...
SHRI S.S. AHLUWALIA: Sir, would you yield for a minute?
SHRI SHIVRAJ V. PATIL: Yes.
SHRI S.S. AHLUWALIA: Sir, I am on a different point. You are saying that a magistrate can refer the case. Instead of a magistrate, if you can mention a district judge, it would be better. Why I am saying this is because, recently, we have seen that the magistrates are so overworked that they have issued warrant against the President of India and the Chief Justice of India. Tomorrow, what will happen is, these applications will come before them, they have no time to verify the details, and they will simply refer it. So, let the district judge see this, take the cognisance of that matter, enquire into it, and then refer it to the National Human Rights Commission. ...(Interruptions)...
SHRI N. JOTHI: To the State Human Rights Commission. ...(Interruptions)...
SHRI S.S. AHLUWALIA: To the State Human Rights Commission only...
SHRI SHIVRAJ V. PATIL: Just don't worry about all those things. This is not a right given to a magistrate. Now, this is a provision which enables a magistrate to make a reference to the National Human Rights Commission. He is not in a position to direct - do this thing, or, don't do this thing. He is just, as an individual can go, any individual can go. Why not a magistrate? What is the difficulty? This provision is made because in many of the criminal cases, the whole thrust of this law is to protect the Government machinery from doing anything to the individual.
SHRI S.S. AHLUWALIA: The magistrate office will become a post office.
SHRI SHIVRAJ V. PATIL: And, that is why it is said that if a magistrate is in a position to know what was done, if it is brought to his notice, his hands should not be bowed down, and he should not be prevented from making the reference to the NHRC. This is nothing more than that. Please, just don't worry about it. The Criminal Procedure Code, the Indian Penal Code, the Law of Evidence and this law also will take care of it. And, moreover, Mr. Jaitley was suggesting to me, it appears to be a correct suggestion. He said, 'instead of allowing him to refer it to the National Human Rights Commission, why should it not be said that the matter should be referred to the State Human Rights Commission?' We have no difficulty; we have no objection, if the magistrate, instead of sending it to Delhi, if he sends it to the capital of that State, to the State Human Rights Commission. And, naturally, the magistrate would apply his mind and do it. And, even if the matter is referred to the National Human Rights Commission by amending the law, we are making a provision that he is not bound to go into all the details relating to particular areas of a particular State. He is, the National Human Rights Commission is in a position to refer these matters to the State Human Rights Commission also because we don't want the National Human Rights Commission to be overburdened. But, if there are cases in which it has...(Interruptions)...
SHRI S.S. AHLUWALIA: Through this law, Sir, we are making the magistrate office into a post office for the State Commission. It will become a post office.
SHRI SHIVRAJ V. PATIL: This is without understanding the legal...(Interruptions)...
SHRI S.S. AHLUWALIA: No, Sir, I understand it. I have dealt with this Bill in the Home Committee. ...(Interruptions)...
SHRI SHIVRAJ V. PATIL: I think, this is a political stand. I have said it...(Interruptions)... This kind of a thing...(Interruptions)...
SHRI S. S. AHLUWALIA: This is not a political stand. ...(Interruptions)...
SHRI SHIVRAJ V. PATIL: Laws cannot be made like that. I have said this. Why don't you accept it? If you don't accept, then...
SHRI S.S. AHLUWALIA: I never said, 'don't accept it'. I am not giving you a challenge. But, I am telling you. ...(Interruptions)...
SHRI SHIVRAJ V. PATIL: This is not...(Interruptions)... Sir, I am finding it difficult to accept this. I am not accepting this.
SHRIMATI BRINDA KARAT: Okay, Sir. Can you add something in the rules which will reflect the spirit of what you have said?
SHRI SHIVRAJ V. PATIL: That is right.
SHRIMATI BRINDA KARAT: Reasserting the authority of the National Human Rights Commission. Sir, will you give us an assurance?
(Followed by kgg/2w)