Cases related to Women and Children
Interventions in Court Proceedings under section 12(b) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993: Cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment of women
Alleged rape in custody by an Assistant Sub-Inspector of Delhi Police
Rape in police custody of T. Uma in Tamil Nadu
Torture and sexual assault of a minor tribal girl from Bihar in Maharashtra
Stripping of teenagers in police lock-up in Kerala
Torture of a child labourer, U.P. (CASE NO:5897/24/98-99)
Girl rescued from captivity, Rajasthan (CASE NO:496/20/97-98)
Disparities in Maternity Leave to the Employees of Private Schools, West Bengal (CASE NO:16295/96-97)
Escape of inmates from Juvenile Homes etc. (CASE NO:497/13/97-98 & other 86 cases)
Sexual exploitation of woman, Rajasthan (CASE NO:685/20/97-98)
Rape of a minor dalit girl by protectors of law, U.P. (CASE NO:9133/24/98-99)
Illegal detention of 3 year old child for ten years due to apathy of the police and other authorities (CASE NO:78/25/98-99)
Education of children of sex workers, Delhi (CASE NO:16754/96-97/NHRC)
Death of a Girl in VVIP Movement, U.P. (CASE NO:13881/24/97-98)
Sexual harassment in the work place and suicide of Sangeeta Sharma, Advocate, Andhra Pradesh (CASE NO:203/1/2000-2001)
Rape of a minor Dalit girl: failure to comply with the law, Haryana (CASE NO:390/7/98-99/NHRC)
Death of 12 year old child worker, Naushad, Bangalore (CASE NO:452/10/2000-2001)
Commission of rape by a Minister of State in the Government of Assam (CASE NO:113/3/2000-2001)
Interventions in Court proceedings under Section 12 (b) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993: Cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment of women.
The Commission took cognizance of a press report dated 12 January 1994 concerning the alleged tattooing of the words "Jeb Katri" on the forehead of four women by Amritsar Police personnel. The victims had also filed a Writ Petition before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh, praying for directions to the respondents, viz. Government of Punjab, Superintendent of Police, Amritsar and others to arrange for plastic surgery for removal of the objectionable tattoo, giving adequate compensation for inhuman torture and humiliation and for punishing the guilty police officials. On 17 January 1994, the Commission addressed a letter to the Chief Secretary, Government of Punjab calling for a report in the matter.
As the matter was pending before the High Court, the Commission decided to intervene under Section 12 (b) of the Protection of Human Rights act and, upon intervention being allowed, filed an Affidavit through a Counsel asking for
(i) investigation to be handed over the CBI as the accused belonged to the State police and investigation by a sister wing may not inspire confidence.
(ii) allow the victims to have their foreheads operated by competent plastic surgeons of their choice at State cost, and
(iii) allow interim compensation.
The High Court, after hearing Counsel for the parties including Shri Mohinderjit Singh Sethi, Senior Advocate, for the Commission, made a direction accepting all the suggestions of the Commission.
Alleged rape in custody by an Assistant Sub-Inspector of Delhi Police
In July 1994, pursuant to its circular of 14 December 1993, the Commission received a report from the Dy. Commissioner of Police, South District. New Delhi, in regard to a custodial rape by an ASI of the Delhi Police force. The victim had been brought to the police station by another ASI, as she had got lost on her way to her parent’s home. No report was made in the daily diary of the police station of the victim having been taken to the police station, nor was due care taken to ensure the return of the victim to their family. The ASI who took her to the police station was accordingly placed under suspension. The victim was raped by another ASI who took her to his house in the residential quarters of Paharganj police station. The ASI who committed the rape was arrested and the case was sent to Court for trial. The Commission also received a complaint and a report on this incident from the Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), Delhi.
The Commission, on perusal of the report from the Government of NCTD, and also the report of the PUDR, directed the Government of NCTD to explain as to why the woman was detained at the police station for the night, how it was that there was no supporting entry for her detention at the police station, and what steps had been taken or were proposed to be taken to ensure that women were not called to and detained at the police station for investigation, particularly at night. The Commission took serious objection to the persistence of such practices, notwithstanding the decision of the Supreme Court given some 15 years ago in the case of "Nandini Satpathi Vs. State of Orissa".
The Government of NCTD subsequently reported that there had been a lapse on the part of duty officers both at P.S. Hauz Khaz and at P.S. Okhla for not recording the victim’s presence in the police station and also for not informing her family members of her whereabouts. Departmental enquiry into the lapses has also been ordered against the concerned police officials. Instructions not to call women for interrogation in the night, and to detail women police officers if a woman is called for interrogation to police station at an odd hour, have reiterated by the Government of NCTD for strict compliance by all concerned officers.
Rape in police custody of T. Uma in Tamil Nadu
On receipt of a report from the Collector, Kamarajar District, Tamil Nadu about the custodial rape of T. Uma by the Head Constable of Alangulam police station, the Commission called for a report. The Government of Tamil Nadu, through their letter dated 2 May 1995 stated that the accused was placed under suspension and that acase under section 354 and 376 IPC was registered against him on 30 September 1994. It was also stated that the enquiry report on the alleged rape was under examination and that action would be taken against the delinquents, if necessary, and that a report would be sent in due course.
The Commission considered this report in May 1995 and commented adversely on the long delay; it also called upon the State Government to complete its scrutiny of the report expeditiously andindicate its final view quickly.
Subsequently, the State Government reported to the Commission that it had accepted the findings of the enquiry officer and had come to the conclusion that Uma was indeed raped by the Head Constable and that there was reasonable ground for launching criminal prosecution and simultaneous departmental action against him and other policemen who were involved in this incident. Further, considering the indigent circumstances of the family of Uma, the State Government also sanctioned Rs. 100,000 as compensation to Uma.
While accepting the State Government’s report, the Commission recommended that the prosecution should be launched without further delay and that the investigation be entrusted to a senior police officer.
Alleged rape of Jain Sadhvis: Madhya Pradesh Police asked to follow the spirit of law
The Commission has asked the Madhya Pradesh Government to take cognizance of and to start investigating allegations relating to the rape of two Jain Sadhvis, a matter which was the subject of widespread media coverage. Interpreting the relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code(IPC), the Commission held that it was not necessary for the State Government to wait for a formal report from the victims or anyone on their behalf.
Sakshi, a Delhi-based non-governmental organization, had earlier drawn the attention of the Commission to this incident and requested it to conduct an enquiry into it.
In an initial examination of the complaint on 26 July 1995, the Commission had felt that the act in question did not come within its purview, as it was committed by a private person. The Commission, however, decided to enquire from the Director General of Police, Madhya Pradesh wheher prosecution had been launched in this case or not.
The Director General of Police, Madhya Pradesh reported to the Commission concerning the efforts made by his Department to enquire into the matter. He indicated that a criminal case had not been registered, as the Sadhvis in question were not willing to report the matter to the police. He added in clarification that neither the Sadhvis nor anyone else on their behalf had ever lodged any complaint at the Police Station, Morena or with the Superintendent of Police, Morena.
As the offence of rape punishable under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code is a cognizable one, the Commission took the view that "the police would be free under their own information to take cognizance and to start investigation."
Accordingly, theCommission addressed a letter to the Chief Secretary, Madhya Pradesh to look into the matter from this point of view and to advise the police to put the law into motion. The Commission further held that even though the victims of rape had not left the order to which they belonged and were not prepared to come to court, it was the duty of the police to follow the spirit of the law and to take effective steps to ensure that crimes, particularly cognizable ones, did not go unpunished.
Upon the intervention of Commission, a case has now been registered by the Madhya Pradesh Police in this matter. Investigation is in progress.
Torture and sexual assault of a minor tribal girl from Bihar in Maharashtra
The People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Singhbhum unit (East and West), Bihar brought to the attention of theCommission six cases of serious violations of human rights which included, among others, an incident of torture and sexual abuse of a minor tribal giril "Baby" by the relatives of an influential officier of the Bihar Police . The girl was working as domestic help in Bombay at the house of the siter and brother-in-law of the police officer, where shewas allegedly tortured by the couple and was also sexually assaulted. There were reports in the press on the hushing up of this matter by the Adityapar police ( Bihar) in connivance with the said police officer.
The Commission initially issued notice to the Bihar Government calling for a report. Subsequently, it also sent a Superintendent of Police from its Investigation Division to look into the case.
Upon perusing his enquiry report, the Commission termed the whole episode "shocking"and resulting from "depraved human conduct". As a result of steps taken by the Commission, a case of torture and rape wasregistered in Raigarh, Maharashtra which was the place of the incident.
The Commission noted down that Baby, an orphan, who is now living with her grandmother in Jamshedpur, would not be in a position to go to Raigad, the place of trial. It further noted that Jamshedpur would also be inappropriate to serve as thevenue for a trial as the brother-in-law of the acused was a senior police officer in Bihar,. Under these circumstances, the Commission felt that thetrial should be transferred to a venue such as Delhi and it moved the Supreme Court in this respect. The Supreme Court has entertained the petition and stayed further proceedings of the trial pending disposal of the transfer petition. Having regard to the trauma of the minor Adivasi girl, the Commission has also provided some interim financial assistance through an NGO, in Ranchi that has agreed to look after her interests
Stripping of teenagers in police lock-up in Kerala
Upon the recommendation of the Commission, the Kerala Government has sanctioned payment of compensation of Rs 10,000 to each of seven boys who were strippedand forced to spend two nights in the police lock-up at Tirunelli in WayanadDistrict. Necessary action has also been initiated by the State Government forrecovering, through departmental proceedings, the total compensation amount of Rs. 70,000 from the delinquent police officers, who have been placed under suspension.
The Commission took suo motu cognizance of press reports which stated that some tribal youths, mostly students, were picked up by the police when they were agitating against the opening of liquor shops in Appappara andwho were treated in a very harsh manner. The Commission also subsequently received complaints in this regard from the Kerala Harijan Samajam, Centre for Human Rights, Legal Aid and Reserach, Keralal and Madhya Pradesh Youth Organization, all of them being non-governmental organizations.
In response to the Commission’s notice calling for areport, the Kerala Government accepted that certain boys and girls, peacefully demonstrating in front of an arrack shop, were unnecessarily arrested and the the police constables behaved indecently with them.
As the allegations were prima-facie found to be true, theState Governmentsuspended four police personnel responsible for this incident and ordered a detailed enquiry.
The Commission, after considering the State Government’s report, termed the whole episode "reprehensible" and as yet another case of the violation of human rights of the less fortunate in society. The Commission recommended that Rs 10,000/- be paid as compensation to each of the victims and that the money be recovered from the errant personnel.In its reply, the Government of Kerala has tated that necessay compensation has been sanctioned and that efforts are on to recover it from the delinquent officers through Departmental or other appropriate proceedings
Torture of a child labourer: Uttar Pradesh (Case No. 5897/24/98-99)
The Commission took suo-motu cognizance of a report appearing in Nav Bharat Times of 3 July 1998 in which it was stated that two drunken police constables allegedly tortured a young boy, working in a road side Dhaba. The news item further alleged that the two constables ordered him to fetch his mother to entertain them and when the boy refused, they stripped him and branded him with a hot iron rod used for making "tandoori roti".
On instructions of the Commission, the case was investigated by the Commission’s own investigating team and it was found that the boy was beaten with footwear and, later, with a walking stick, by the police constables.
The two constables involved in the incident had been placed under suspension and a criminal case started against them.
In view of the sufferings of the boy, the Commission recommended to the Chief Secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh, the payment of a sum of Rs.5,000/- to the parents by way of immediate interim relief to be spent on the welfare and education of the boy. At the instance of the Commission, the District Magistrate has initiated action against the Dhaba owner under the Child Labour (Prevention) Act for employing a child in his Dhaba.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child’ (CRC) sets the standards that should prevail for the protection of children. It emphasises in particular, the rights to life, survival and development of the child. Art. 6(2) of the CRC makes it obligatory for the State to ensure the survival and development of the child to the maximum possible extent. This spirit prevails in the Directive Principles of the Indian Constitution, e.g., Art. 39 (e) & (f), which require that the State should direct its policy towards securing for children the opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner, in conditions of freedom and dignity, that childhood is protected against exploitation and the tender age of children is not abused.
The efforts of the Commission seek to give expression to the spirit of Art. 32 of the CRC, the provisions of Constitution of India and judicial pronouncements of the Supreme Court. These provisions recognise that the child has a right against economic exploitation and the performing of any work which is likely to be hazardous or interfere with the child’s education or be harmful to the child’s health or development.
The Indian Constitution, in its Art. 24, prohibits employment of children in factories and other hazardous enterprises and Art. 45 mandates that the State shall endeavour to provide free and compulsory education for children upto the age of 14 years of age.
Sexual exploitation of woman: Rajasthan (Case No.685/20/97-98)
The Commission received an anonymous complaint alleging that a 24 year old woman had been forcibly detained and was being sexually abused by certain persons at Jaipur for the last 2-3 years. According to the complaint, the woman had a young child and was in a pitiable condition and the culprits were planning to force her into prostitution. The Commission took cognizance of the anonymous complaint. A report submitted by S.P. (Rural) Jaipur on notice from the Commission stated that both the suspected persons had been contacted and that, as they belonged to a respected family, their involvement was ruled out. The report also stated that no such woman as mentioned in the complaint could be located. Not satisfied with the report, the Commission deputed its investigation team for an on-the-spot inquiry. The Commission’s team, alongwith local police, rescued the woman on 13 April 1998.According to the report of the investigation team, she was recovered from the house of one Manoharlal Sharma, a criminal, and was found to be undernourished, in ill health and in traumatized condition. She was sent for medical examination and was found to be pregnant. According to the report, a case under relevant provisions of the IPC was registered and 6 persons, including a police constable, were identified as being responsible for her desperate condition; two of them had already been arrested. The Commission considered the report of its investigation team and noted that the law had been set in motion. Further, taking note of the travails of the victimized woman as well as the trauma that she had undergone, the Commission recommended that the Government of Rajasthan accord her appropriate assistance, inter alia by providing her suitable employment.
Girl rescued from captivity: Rajasthan (Case No.496/20/97-98)
The Commission received an anonymous petition stating that a young girl had been kept in captivity in a house in Dholpur, Rajasthan for about 5 years and, as a result of that, she had become mentally ill and her condition was serious. The Commission, taking cognizance of the matter, directed its investigation team to submit a report after making an on-the-spot inquiry. It also directed the investigation team to take up the matter with the members of the family in case the facts alleged were found to be true. The investigation team, on finding that allegations made in the petition were true, undertook a rescue operation. The team reported to the Commission that, after the Commission’s intervention, the victim had been given appropriate care and had been receiving proper medical attention. Noting the report of the investigating team, the Commission further directed the Rajasthan Police to vigorously pursue their efforts to apprehend the culprit, the brother of the victim, and to monitor the progress of treatment of the victim. The Commission also directed the SMS hospital to continue to provide medical assistance to the victim and report to the Commission.
Disparities in Maternity Leave to the Employees of Private Schools: West Bengal (Case No.16295/96-97)
A complaint was received by the Commission alleging that management of certain private schools in West Bengal had not been providing maternity leave benefits to the teaching and non-teaching women employees. The Secretary, Department of Education, Govt. of West Bengal on notice from the Commission submitted a report based on inquires made by the Department with regard to the three specific categories of private schools, where the provisions of maternity leave allegedly were not enforced. The report said that different provisions were made for different categories of schools and that the schools were strictly following the rules which were applicable to each of these categories. On consideration of the report from the Secretary, Department of Education and examining the report of the Ministry of Labour on the subject of maternity leave, the Commission observed that there was no uniformity in the rules/ code framed by different boards like the ICSE and the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education with regard to maternity leave and that they were at variance with the maternity leave rules framed by the Government. It was noted that, in some cases, the existing rules/codes had not been followed. The Commission directed the Government of West Bengal to undertake a review of the existing rules / codes and to bring about uniformity and also to incorporate the provision of grant of 120 days maternity leave to the teaching and non-teaching women employees of various educational institutions. The Commission further stated that it was up to the authorities of the State Government to restrict the facility of maternity leave to two child births, if it thought necessary and appropriate.
Though women constitute half the world’s population, there is still no society in which they enjoy full equality with men. Patriarchal attitudes and consequent power imbalances have adversely affected women culturally, socially, politically and economically. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, reaffirming faith in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women, envisaged the enjoyment of such rights without any distinction of any kind, including discrimination on the basis of sex (Preamble, Article 2). However, gender discrimination constitutes one of the most pervasive forms of violation of human rights. In the light of this fact, the Vienna Declaration of 1993, explicitly asserted that the human rights of women are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights and eradication of all discrimination on grounds of sex are priority objectives of the international community. State Parties have thus undertaken to eradicate this evil under various articles of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, (CEDAW). The Indian Constitution propagates the spirit of equality before law through Art. 14 and mandates the State, through Art. 15, not to discriminate between citizens on certain grounds, including the sex of the person. Art. 15(3) is an ameliorative provision which authorises the State to make special provision for women and children. The Commission thus strives to fulfil the obligation of the State under various human rights instruments and the Indian Constitution to protect and promote the rights of women.
Among these instruments is the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women 1993, which defines ‘violence against women’ as any act of gender based violence that results in or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life. As regards the latter, further violence against women includes the physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation. For long, due to public and private dichotomy in human rights jurisprudence, violence perpetrated against woman within the four walls of her home remained ignored and could not be brought under the purview of UN instruments and local legislations. However, the international human rights discourse has identified and recognised the ‘private sphere’ violations of the human rights of women. The Commission’s intervention in one of the cases mentioned above is a reflection of this recognition.
The Platform for Action and Beijing Declaration (1995) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The health of women involves their emotional, social, and physical well being and is determined by the social, political and economic context of their lives, as well as by biology. Expecting mothers are therefore entitled to special care and protection and their motherhood should not become a hindrance to their right to favourable conditions of work. Art. 10 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1966, recognises that special protection should be accorded to mothers during a reasonable period before and after child birth. During such period, working mothers should be accorded paid leave or leave with adequate social security benefits. It is pertinent to note that by virtue of its being a signatory to CEDAW, India is under an obligation, under Art. 11, to protect the right of health and safeguard the function of reproduction in case of working women. Further, the State is under a duty to prevent discrimination on grounds of maternity and to ensure that effective right of women to work is protected by introducing maternity leave with pay, or with comparable social benefits, without loss of employment, seniority or social benefits. The Commission, in fulfilment of Article 11 of CEDAW, directed the State of West Bengal, in one of the above-mentioned cases, to undertake a review of the existing rules/codes and to bring about uniformity by ensuring appropriate provision for the grant of 120 days maternity leave to teaching and non-teaching employees in the schools of that State
Escape of inmates from Juvenile Homes, etc (Case No.497/13/97-98 & other 86 cases)
In this groups of 87 cases, the attention of the Commission was drawn to the escape of several inmates from the Beggars’ Homes/Juvenile Homes/ Remand Homes situated in different parts of Maharashtra. The Commission pointed out that it was the State Government’s duty to take appropriate measures for the safe custody of the inmates. The escape of such a large number of inmates was indicative of the fact that there were either serious infrastructural deficiencies or that security arrangements were faulty.
The Commission directed that the Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra should review the functioning of the Beggars’ Home/Juvenile Homes/Remand Homes with a view to ensuring better care in these institutions and avoiding the recurrence of circumstances leading to such instance.
Progressive criminology propagates the use of non-institutional treatment of offenders. The loss of liberty, separation from the family and the social environment in institutions often results in unwanted consequences. Considering this, Rule 19 of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the administration of Juvenile Justice (1980) aims at restricting institutionalization in quantity and in time. Rule 19 lays down that the placement of juveniles in an institution shall always be a disposition of last resort and for the minimum necessary period. Art. 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) mandates the State to ensure that the institutions responsible for care or protection of children shall conform with the standards established by competent authorities. Art. 19 of that Convention further mandates that the State shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child in all respects, while in the care of parents etc. or any other person. Art 40 of that Convention recognises the state’s duty to treat the child offender in a manner consistent with the child’s sense of dignity and worth, which reinforces the child’s respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others. Rule 26 of the Beijing Declaration says that the juveniles shall receive care, protection and all necessary assistance, e.g. social, educational, vocational, psychological, medical and physical, which they require due to their age, sex, personality and in the interest of their wholesome development.
The order of the Commission sought to review of conditions in the institutions for children, in order to bring them into conformity with acceptable standards.
Sexual exploitation of woman: Rajasthan (Case No.685/20/97-98)
The Commission received an anonymous complaint alleging that a 24 year old woman had been forcibly detained and was being sexually abused by certain persons at Jaipur for the last 2-3 years. According to the complaint, the woman had a young child and was in a pitiable condition and the culprits were planning to force her into prostitution. The Commission took cognizance of the anonymous complaint. A report submitted by S.P. (Rural) Jaipur on notice from the Commission stated that both the suspected persons had been contacted and that, as they belonged to a respected family, their involvement was ruled out. The report also stated that no such woman as mentioned in the complaint could be located. Not satisfied with the report, the Commission deputed its investigation team for an on-the-spot inquiry. The Commission’s team, alongwith local police, rescued the woman on 13 April 1998.According to the report of the investigation team, she was recovered from the house of one Manoharlal Sharma, a criminal, and was found to be undernourished, in ill health and in traumatized condition. She was sent for medical examination and was found to be pregnant. According to the report, a case under relevant provisions of the IPC was registered and 6 persons, including a police constable, were identified as being responsible for her desperate condition; two of them had already been arrested. The Commission considered the report of its investigation team and noted that the law had been set in motion. Further, taking note of the travails of the victimized woman as well as the trauma that she had undergone, the Commission recommended that the Government of Rajasthan accord her appropriate assistance, inter alia by providing her suitable employment
Rape of a minor dalit girl by protectors of Law – Uttar Pradesh Case No.9133/24/98-99
Shri Chandradhas Maurya, a member of Samta Sainik Dal and a resident of District Bulandshar, Uttar Pradesh, in a complaint to the Commission alleged the kidnapping, rape and suicide of a 15 year old dalit girl ABC (name withheld to protect identity). He stated that two firemen, along with a police constable, enticed ABC away on 14 August 1998 and took her to their rented premises in front of the police station where they raped her repeatedly. She was allowed to go away next morning with the threat that she would be killed if she reported the incident to anyone. The girl disclosed the incident to her family members and she along with her family members went to the Police Station, Dibai and met the Sub-Inspector and later the Fire Station Officer both of whom, instead of taking cognizance of the case, abused the girl, passed derogatory remarks and also threatened them with implication in false cases. Upon returning home, ABC committed suicide by setting herself on fire and later succumbed to her burn injuries at 9 AM on 15 August 1998.
As the complaint related to a grave violation of human rights of a dalit girl, the Commission took cognizance of this matter on a priority basis and issued notice to SSP Bulandshar calling for a report. The report dated 6 October 1998 received from SSP Bulandshar stated that the complainant had denied having sent the complaint in question to the Commission but confirmed the averments and allegations made in the complaint with regard to the suicide by ABC after she was raped by the two firemen. It was also reported that, upon a complaint of the grandfather of the victim, a case FIR No.221/98 under Section 363/366/376/306 IPC and under Section 3(1)/12 of SC/ST Act had been registered and efforts were on to arrest the accused persons.
Upon considering the report, the Commission thought it expedient to get the matter inquired into by its own Investigation Division. Pursuant to this decision, an Inspector from the Investigation Division made an on-the-spot inquiry and submitted a report. According to it, ABC had developed illicit relations with the two firemen. On the night of 14 August 1998, she was taken by them to their rented house where she was sexually exploited. The next day, ABC approached the Fire Station Officer and SHO to complain about the rape but neither took cognizance of the case. Thereafter, the girl committed suicide by burning herself. A case was registered on 17 August 1998 only after a protest and road blockade by the residents of the village. The report of the investigation team also indicated that the station diary for 16 August 1998 was tampered with. It was also observed that while the SHO had visited the scene of the crime, he did not record the dying declaration of ABC, though she was capable of giving one at that time.
Upon perusing the report, the Commission held that SHO Dibai and In-charge, Fire Station, Dibai had not conducted themselves in a manner befitting their office and responsibilities and that they had not only shown a lack of sensitivity in a matter of grave importance, namely the protection of a dalit girl subjected to sexual assault, but had been thoroughly negligent in not taking cognizance of the complaint lodged by ABC. Instead, the Commission noted, they had allegedly made derogatory and uncharitable remarks about the girl. The Commission observed that the attitude of these two officers had driven ABC to take the extreme step of ending her life by setting herself on fire, having been left with the impression that she would not get justice. The Commission further observed that the remarks and inaction on the part of the officials might, perhaps, make them liable for the offence of abetment of suicide by ABC, which was punishable under Section 306 IPC and which aspect needed to be investigated.
On a consideration of all the facts and circumstances of the case, the Commission recommended to the Government of Uttar Pradesh that:
(i) While initiating disciplinary proceedings for major penalty against the concerned SHO and Fire Station Officer, they may be placed under suspension with immediate effect;
(ii) It entrust the investigation of the case to the State CID in order to ascertain further the role of these two officers, as also that of another Constable, who was alleged to have aided and abetted in the kidnapping and rape of ABC;
(iii) Pay, by way of immediate interim relief, a sum of Rs.1,00,000/- to Shri Narain Singh, grandfather of ABC within a period of one month. Out of the awarded sum of Rs.1,00,000/- a sum of Rs.25,000/- be paid by way of cash/demand draft and the balance amount of Rs.75,000/- be put in a fixed deposit in a Nationalised Bank for a period of 5 years, periodic interests accruing thereon being payable to him.
Pursuant to the Commission’s recommendations, the State Government started a disciplinary inquiry and an inquiry by the State CID. The compensation was also sanctioned.
Illegal detention of three year old child for ten years due to apathy of the Police and other authorities Case No.78/25/98-99
Syed Shahabuddin, former MP, drew the attention of the Commission to the plight of a young girl who had witnessed a murder and was thereafter detained in police custody for about ten years, as a result of which her childhood was lost. The incident had been reported in "The Times of India" under the caption "Witness spent 10 Years in Custody – Case yet to begin". The Commission immediately took note of the letter and called for a report from DGP West Bengal. The Office of the DGP forwarded the report which stated that although the name of the girl had not been mentioned by the complainant or in the newspaper item, the report was presumably about a girl named Kalpana Mistry. According to the report, on 30 March 1990, the learned SJDM Kalyani Nadia had ordered that Kalpana Mistry, who was an eyewitness in a case in which her father had allegedly murdered her own mother, should be lodged at Liluaha Home and produced in the court, as and when required. She was last produced in the court on 20 September 1996 and she failed to identify the accused. She was taken to Liluaha Home on 29 September 1996. In between, in 1992, she was shifted from the Liluaha Home to a Child Care Home (NGO) on the orders of Shri R.M. Zameer, IAS, SP and Ex-Officio Director of Special Welfare, West Bengal for proper upkeep, schooling, protection, care and further rehabilitation. However, when the said NGO moved the learned court for approval of transfer, the learned Sessions Judge termed the act as highly irregular and asked for an explanation from the Director of Social Welfare for having transferred the child without approval and intimation to the court. Subsequently, she was again sent to the Liluaha Home. Though its Memo dated 1 September 1997, the Social Welfare Department again directed transfer of the child to a Government approved/recognised NGO Child Care Home for her education, care and further rehabilitation. The report stated that the court had not passed any order so far.
The gist of the report from the office of DGP West Bengal was sent to Syed Shahabuddin for his comments. Shahabuddin expressed his anguish both at the callousness of the civil and police authorities who, without a thought regarding the tender age of the child, had kept the girl in isolation, and also the court for not even having cared to pass an order for her future guardianship. He suggested that since the State is a guardian in such cases, the child should be handed over to SOS Children Home and NHRC should give suitable compensation which should be deposited in her name as a trust for her future.
The Commission expressed its shock at the inhuman and apathetic manner in which the case was handled by the police and other authorities. The Commission found the very idea of retaining a girl child, who was only three years old at the time of the incident, and considering her competent to be a witness in a court of law and keeping her waiting for the commencement of the trial for ten long years, as shocking. The appalling lack of interest shown by the authorities in the welfare of the innocent child resulted in depriving her of her normal childhood which could never be regained. No amount of compensation, the Commission felt, would be adequate for the loss she had suffered. However, in order to alleviate her suffering to some extent, the Commission recommended to the Government of West Bengal to ensure that child is suitably rehabilitated and educated in the SOS Children’s Home or sent to a reputable institute run by an NGO in or around the city of Calcutta, till she became a major. The Commission also recommended that a sum of Rs.50,000/- be deposited in her name through a court guardian, the interest of which would be paid to the institute looking after her, and the principal amount to be released to her on her becoming a major to enable her to settle in life. A Compliance report from the West Bengal Government has since been received.
In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, the United Nations has proclaimed that the child is entitled to special care and assistance. Article 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989 stipulates that in all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration
Education of children of sex workers : Delhi CASE NO.16754/96-97/NHRC
The Joint Women’s Programme (JWP) and Mashaal Mahila Sangathan (MMS) sent a petition to the Commission on 17 February 1997 complaining about the reluctance of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to allocate one additional room in the MCD Primary School, GB Road, Delhi for the education of children of sex workers and attempts to vacate them from the existing room which was allotted to them.
In response to the Commission’s notice, MCD stated that it was not their responsibility to provide accommodation to JWP to educate the children of the sex workers or to provide other health programmes to the sex workers and their children. The MCD added that the terms of the initial allotment to JWP to organize their part-time programme after school hours in room no.9 had been violated and that the MCD was itself providing education to all children in the school run by Corporation. The MCD also said that it would be open to the children of sex workers to get admitted in that school.
The Commission in its proceedings of 7 July 1999 noted that the increased inflow of students every year compelled the JWP to commit a breach of the conditional order of allotment. The breach of the condition was neither volitional nor for any private profit motive but to serve the public cause. The Commission was of the considered view that the breach was inconsequential. Having regard to the circumstances, the Commission held that MCD, being a local authority and an arm of the State, had a duty to implement the programmes of education and health care of the children of sex workers. In the light of the provisions of the Constitution, relevant Supreme Court judgments and the provisions of international instruments, the Commission recommended the allotment of an additional room to the complainant organization, in addition to it retaining possession of the existing room. After repeated efforts to secure compliance of its directive, the Commission received a report from the MCD indicating that appropriate action had been taken in accordance with the view expressed by the Commission.
In Gaurav Jain vs. Union of India (AIR 1997 SC 3021) the Supreme Court held that, "it is the duty of the State and all voluntary non-government organizations and public spirited persons" to come to the aid of sex workers and "to retrieve them from prostitution, rehabilitate them with a helping hand to lead a life with dignity of person".
The children of sex workers are entitled to facilities and opportunities for their education and health care. Article 19(2) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates that,`State authorities shall take all legislative, administrative, social and education measures to protect the child from neglect or negligent treatment, mal-treatment or exploitation including sexual abuse’. Articles 28 and 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child set out the obligations of States party to the Convention in respect of the education of children.
Death of a Girl in VVIP Movement : Uttar Pradesh.(Case No. 13881/24/97-98)
The Commission received a complaint from one Ram Bahadur Singh alleging that his daughter, Vandana Singh, a student of the ninth standard, was crushed by a vehicle which was deployed for the security of an Ex-Prime Minister on 7 November 1997 while she was returning from her school on her bicycle. Though she was rushed to the hospital by the police, she succumbed to her injuries. The complainant further alleged that though this incident was reported to the Thana Cantt, and Crime No. 2006/97 under section 279/304A IPC had been registered, no serious investigation had been carried out owing to the involvement of a police vehicle. He sought an inquiry by an independent agency to punish the errant policemen.
The Commission took cognizance of the complaint and obtained a report from the concerned Senior Superintendent of Police. It stated that, on that particular day, a large number of police vehicles were on duty and it was not possible to identify the vehicle involved in the incident. The report further added that, on completion of the investigation, a Final Report had been filed in the Court on 30 June 1998.
The Commission noted from the above report that the life of a young girl had been lost owing to the negligence of a driver who was deployed on Government duty. The Commission further noted the hazards caused to the public as a result of VIP movement and also the fact that the local administration was casual and insensitive to the tragedy. The Commission observed that no significance was attached to the fact that it was a Government vehicle driven by a Government employee, which knocked down and killed the girl and which gave rise to the Government’s vicarious liability as well. It was the duty of the driver involved in the accident to report the accident and those in the motorcade to take necessary action, which they failed to do. Even if it was not possible to identify the delinquent driver at this stage, the Government’s liability to pay compensation remained, the Commission noted.
The Commission, therefore, directed the payment of interim compensation of Rs. 2 lakhs to the next-of-kin of the deceased within four weeks. In response, the State Government through its letter dated 31 March 2001 informed the Commission that Rs. 1 lakh has been sanctioned to the next-of-kin of the victim.
The Commission had directed on 22 March 2000 that payment of interim compensation in the amount of Rs.2 lakhs be made to the next of kin of a young girl who had been crushed by a vehicle that had been deployed for the security of a former Prime Minister of the country.
In response the State Government indicated through letters 31 March 2001 and 28 June 2001 that the Rs.2 lakhs has been sanctioned to the next of kin of the deceased.
Sexual harassment in the work place and suicide of Sangeeta Sharma, Advocate: Andhra Pradesh (Case No.203/1/2000-2001)
Dr Kalpana Kannabiran, President, Asmita Resource Centre for Women, Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh submitted a complaint in respect of the suicide of an advocate of Andhra Pradesh High Court, Sangeeta Sharma, allegedly as a result of sexual harassment by a fellow lawyer and some senior advocates. The intervention of the Commission was requested in order to ensure proper investigation of the case and action against the accused.
Having regard to the sensitive nature of the complaint, the Commission issued notices to the Chief Secretary and DGP, Andhra Pradesh asking for an indication of the current status of the criminal investigation. The Government of Andhra Pradesh submitted a report dated 11 July 2000, which indicated that a case had been registered u/s 306 IPC. The report added that during the pendency of investigation, a writ petition had been filed in the High Court which granted a stay on further investigations being undertaken by the police pursuant to the FIR and anticipatory bail was also allowed to one of the accused. Subsequently, the High Court vacated the stay on 11 July 2000 and further investigations in the case were handed over to the CID. After completion of investigation by the CID, a charge-sheet was filed in the trial court.
In a parallel action, the Commission also took up the wider question of the sexual harassment of women in legal profession and called for and considered reports/comments from the Secretary, Andhra Pradesh Bar Association, the Secretary, State Bar Council of Andhra Pradesh, the Chairman, Bar Council of India, New Delhi as well as the President, Bar Association of India.
During a meeting with the members and officers of the Commission on 4 May 2001, which was attended amongst others by Shri Soli J. Sorabjee, Attorney General of India, Shri D.V. Subba Rao, Chairman Bar Council of India and Shri R.K. Jain, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court, a decision was taken to constitute a High Power Committee to examine this matter further.
Accordingly, such a Committee was constituted on 21 December 2001, under the Chairmanship of Shri Soli J. Sorabjee in his ex-officio capacity to consider all aspects of the problem of sexual harassment of women in the legal profession and to make suitable recommendations for the penalisation/punishment for those who may be involved. The Committee would also consider whether amendments were needed to the Advocates Act, 1961 and the Bar Council Rules. The other members of this Committee are Shri Raju Ramachandran, Advocate, Supreme Court of India; Shri A.K. Ganguly, Advocate, Supreme Court of India; Ms. Meenakashi Arora, Advocate, Supreme Court of India; Smt. M. Daruwala, Director, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, New Delhi and Ms. Naina Kapoor, Director, SAKSHI, New Delhi.
Rape of a minor Dalit girl; failure to comply with the law: Haryana (Case No.390/7/98-99/NHRC)
The Commission received a complaint from Faridabad, Haryana wherein the complainant stated that her daughter aged 7 years was raped by one Lekhraj, who was subsequently sentenced to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.2,500. The complainant added that the crime committed against her young daughter was heinous in nature and that there was great need to rehabilitate her daughter as she was suffering from a deep sense of humiliation and was mentally and psychologically scarred by this experience.
The Commission called for a report from the Home Secretary, Government of Haryana, which indicated that an amount of Rs.6,250 had been given to the complainant as compensation in accordance with a government circular.
On consideration of the report, the Commission took the view that the quantum of immediate relief had to be in accordance with the scale laid down in the Schedule o the rules made under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, which provided the norms to be followed. Under item 17 of Annexure 1, in respect of offences committed under the Indian Penal Code which were punishable with imprisonment for a term of 10 years or more, a victim or his/her dependents were entitled to a minimum amount of relief of at least Rs.50,000, depending upon the nature and gravity of the offence. Further, under Rule 15, the State was required to prepare a model contingency plan for implementing the provisions of the Act and notify the same in the official gazette of the State Government. This plan, inter alia, had to contain a package of relief measures, including a scheme to provide immediate relief in cash or in kind or both.
The Commission observed that the scheme of the Haryana Government appeared to have been framed under the provisions of the Rules. It added that the plan prepared by the State Government under Rule 15 prescribing a scheme for immediate relief in cash or kind could not be in violation of Rule 12(4) read with Annexure 1. The plan had to be prepared within the parameters of the Rules. The Annexure prescribed the minimum amount of the relief to be granted by the State Government. The State Government therefore could not prescribe an amount which was below this minimum. Since rape of a minor girl below the age of 12 years carried a sentence of not less than 10 years rigorous imprisonment and this had been imposed in the present case, the victim would be entitled at least to the minimum compensation of Rs.50,000 in accordance with the norms laid down in Annexure 1 to the Schedule, item 17.
In an order of 18 March 2002, the Commission therefore held that the minimum compensation to be awarded to the victim had to be Rs.50,000. It also stated that the circular of the Government of Haryana had to be revised in order to bring it in consonance with the statutory requirement.
The State Government, which had initially paid a sum of Rs.6250/- to the victim, has subsequently paid the balance of Rs.43,750/-.
Death of 12 year old child worker, Naushad: Bangalore (Case No.452/10/2000-2001)
An NGO of Bangalore, MAYA (Movement for Alternatives and Youth Awareness), made a complaint to the Commission saying that a 12 year old child worker had died in the Silk Filature Unit premises in Ramanagaram town on 14 November 2000 having suffered 79 per cent burns sustained in the unit. It was alleged that the age of the deceased was changed to 17 years by the police, acting in connivance with the doctor who had conducted the post-mortem, in order to save the employer.
Pursuant to a notice issued by the Commission to the Chief Secretary as well as to DGP Karnataka, the Labour Commissioner Karnataka informed the Commission that appropriate cases under the Workmen Compensation Act, 1923 and Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 had been registered in court against the employer. The Commission was also informed that an inquiry had been instituted against the doctors of Victoria Hospital, Bangalore who were involved in falsely certifying the age of the deceased as 17/18 years in the post-mortem report, even though the deceased was aged only about 12 years.
The Commission has been monitoring the progress in respect of the cases that are in court. In addition, after considering the inquiry report submitted against the doctors, the Commission directed the Government of Karnataka to inform it of the action taken by the disciplinary authority on the report of the Inquiry Officer.
The inquiry report submitted by the State Government in respect of the departmental action had been taken up for close scrutiny and comments of the State Government have been called for on discrepancies. The matter is still under consideration.
Commission of rape by a Minister of State in the Government of Assam (Case No.113/3/2000-2001)
The Commission took cognisance of a complaint from a resident of Kokrajhar, Assam alleging that her 16 year old daughter had been raped by Rajan Mushahary, a Minister of State in Assam in Shantivan Hotel, Barobisa, West Bengal on 27 February 2000. The victim was, allegedly, raped again after one month and threatened with dire consequences if she divulged the matter. The mother thereafter lodged a complaint and a case was registered at Gosaingaon Police Station. However, no action was taken against the erring Minister, even though the young daughter had conceived. Upon notice being issued to the Government of Assam, a report dated 29 November 2000 was submitted by the DGP, Assam which pointed to the involvement of the Minister in the commission of the offence amongst others. The police had arrested three persons out of the seven who were named. The Commission thereupon asked what action, if any, the Chief Minister proposed to take concerning the continuation of the accused Minister of State in the Government, adding that his continuance in that capacity would run counter to basic rudiments of the rule of law. A further report submitted by the State Government stated that the State CID had directed the SSP to take steps for DNA profiling, in order to complete investigation in the case. In regard to the reservations expressed by the Commission in respect of the accused continuing as a Minister of State, the report indicated that the continuation of Rajender Mushahary in the Council of Ministers was to be based on the result of the investigation. The Commission, however, firmly repeated its view that the continuation of such a person as Minister in the State Cabinet ran counter to the rudiment of the rule of law and was likely to give the impression of interference in the course of investigation and prosecution for the offences. Press reports thereafter appeared indicating that the Chief Minister had taken strong exception to the proceedings and view of the Commission. On 23 April 2001, therefore, the Commission stated that it was constrained to observe that if the newspaper reports were correct, the Chief Minister had completely missed the point made by the Commission and that he had made observations which depicted a lack of appreciation of the role and functions envisaged for the Commission under its Statute. The Commission added that it was ‘constituted under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 for the better protection of the human rights and its functions include inquiring into violation of human rights or negligence in prevention of such violation; review of safeguards provided by the Constitution or any law, etc., and such other functions as it may consider necessary for the promotion of human rights.’ The Commission then reiterated yet again its earlier observations that ‘the continuance of the principal-accused of such an offence as a Minister in the State Cabinet, in its view, is erosion of the rule of law and, as a consequence, it is a serious violation of human rights.’ Further investigation reports submitted by the Government of Assam to the Commission indicated that the DNA test established that Shri Rajender Mushahary was the father of the child that had been conceived and that he had been arrested on 6 August 2001. Four others were arrested on 2 January 2002 and two were absconding. In the light of the developments, the Commission did not find it necessary to pursue this matter any further. Accordingly, it closed its proceedings in respect of this case