New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to consider setting up a state human rights commission (SHRC) in Delhi by keeping aside political considerations.
"The controversy has political aspects. Let’s resolve them legally. Keep aside political aspects and do what is required," the court said.
Delhi occupies a special status in the Constitution, with its own elected government and a lieutenant governor as an administrator. Law and order, and land in Delhi fall under the Union home ministry’s jurisdiction. The Aam Aadmi Party came to power in Delhi last year with a landslide win in assembly elections, and has been frequently at loggerheads with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government.
The issue has arisen in the wake of an apex court ruling in July last year (SC lays down guidelines to prevent custodial torture) which directed Delhi, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh to set up SHRCs within six months. A contempt petition was filed as Delhi had failed to comply with this direction.
Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi told the apex court that for human rights violations in Delhi, complainants could approach the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
A bench comprising chief justice T.S. Thakur, and justices R. Banumathi and U.U. Lalit, however, said that the NHRC was in favour of states having their own commissions.
"NHRC has repeatedly said that you must have a state commission," the court told the Union government. "The Constitution provides for a state human rights commission in every state. Every other institution constitutionally provided is there in Delhi."
Rohatgi suggested that the opinion of the NHRC should be taken into consideration.
CJI Thakur noted that since state governments are responsible for setting up state commissions, for union territories (UTs), the Centre would be the appropriate authority to form the panels.
The Delhi government informed the court that it had sent a proposal to the Centre in January about a three-member committee. The Centre hadn’t moved on it yet, lawyer C.U. Singh, representing the Delhi government, said.
On an earlier occasion, the court questioned if citizens in UTs (SC questions human rights grievance redressal system in Union territories) had to come to Delhi for registering instances of human rights violations.
On Tuesday, the court was told that the Delhi government had filed a suit to resolve the dispute regarding administration of Delhi in the apex court.
The case will now be heard in July.