Human Rights Law Network


Media Reports

Pending cases mount at State Human Rights panel

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Since 2001, and till February 2014, as many as 15,266 cases had been filed before the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC), but the panel has been able to disposed of less than a thousand of them. As many as 14,285 cases are still pending; documents accessed under the Right to Information (RTI) have revealed. Constituted under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, the MSHRC, headed by Justice B R Bannurmath, looks into the various cases of violation of human rights. Refusal of the police to file FIR, alleged action by the police, and denial of human rights of HIV/AIDS infected people, custodial deaths and other kinds of complaints are looked into by the commission. No fee or stamp paper is required to move the commission, and for many it is the last resort for justice.

According to documents furnished by the commission in reply to an application filed by The Indian Express, pendency at the MSHRC in 2001-02 was nil. Till February 2014, the highest numbers of complaints (7,208) were received in 2008-09, while the least number of 1,454 complaints were received in 2001-02. Since 2008, the number of complaints has gone down. The number of cases disposed of has taken a plunge from 2011-12, with the year 2012-13 and the period between April 1, 2013 and August 31, 2013, witnessing zero cases being settled. The highest number of complaints disposed of after report/hearing was in 2008-09 when 3,402 cases were solved. Relief was awarded in as many as 347 of them. The same year had seen 8,563 cases being disposed of in total, the highest in the given time period.

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SC seeks response of Centre, states on violation of Right to Education Act

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The Supreme Court on April 11 2014 sought response of the Centre, all states and Union Territories on a petition alleging that there was violation of Right to Education (RTE) Act in schools across the country and sought its proper implementation. A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam issued notice and sought their response after summer vacation on a plea filed by an organisation, National Coalition for Education. The plea said lack of resources and failure to implement provisions of the RTE Act has resulted in a significant decline in education performance.

Human Rights Senior Lawyer Colin Gonsalves sought a direction to all the states to complete the required neighbourhood mapping within six months and new schools be constructed six months after completion of the process. The petition asked the states and UTs to recruit and train one lakh additional professionally trained teachers to end the shortage of educators within a year. It sought a direction that "the states and UTs upgrade all deficient schools with appropriate physical infrastructure so as to be in compliance with the RTE Act within six months."The states and UTs regularise and make permanent all contract and para-teachers in the country,"

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Supreme Court recognizes transgenders as 'third gender'

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A recent Supreme Court verdict has empowered the transgender community by giving them not only the right to self-determination of gender but also cultural, social and political rights as guaranteed by the Constitution to all citizens. The lengthy verdict, however, fails to throw light on the sexual rights of the community. The judgment declined to delve into section 377 of the IPC, that calls homosexuality “unnatural” and makes it a criminal offence punishable upto life, despite acknowledging that the colonial law is widely used to harass transgender persons.

Though the apex court has ruled that each person has the right to determine one’s own sexual orientation and gender identity, it fails to talk about the right to choose one’s sexual partner. The third gender cannot be discriminated against under the statue now as far as general rights are concerned. However, the third gender’s sexual activities continue to remain not just unlawful but criminal offences. “Trans persons can now have their own public toilets but can still not have legitimate sex. A trans person would indulge in unnatural sex (under sec 377) as the partner would either be another trans or a man or woman,” said a transgender who did not wish to be named.

Lawyers and LGBT activists say that the case in question — National Legal Services Authority vs. UOI — dealt only with general rights of transgenders and not sexual rights. They, however, are of the view that the judgment has given a boost to the movement against section 377 and will definitely help in decriminalising homosexuality. In July 2009, the Delhi high court had decriminalised homosexuality by striking down sec 377 of the IPC. However, the HC verdict was quashed by the top court in December last year. Later, the SC dismissed a review plea and a curative petition is now pending before it.

Colin Gonsalves, senior advocate and founder of Human Rights Law Network said that “This SC judgment is basically inconsistent with another judgment of the SC (recriminalising homosexuality). This is contradictory. The two verdicts have taken totally different views. But the latest verdict will definitely have an impact on the curative petition (pending in SC) for decriminalising homosexuality,”

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Dalits flee Haryana village after four women raped, seek justice in Delhi

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Over 80 Dalit families from a village in Haryana have fled to Delhi after they were allegedly threatened by Jats for protesting the abduction and rape of four women. The Dalits are from Bhagana in Hisar district. They alleged that four of their women were abducted on March 25 by five men. The women were sedated, raped and dumped at a railway station in Bathinda, Punjab. Police arrested the five men but the Dalits said the Jats began intimidating the families of the victims and that’s what forced them to leave the village. “All that we had was our honour. The Jats took it away from us. Who will marry our daughters now? The police may have arrested the five men but we think they will be out soon,” the mother of one of the victims said.

Manish Chaudhary, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Hisar, said: “Four girls, two of them minors, were allegedly raped. We have registered an FIR against the five accused. Two of them are related to the village sarpanch. While two have been charged with rape, three have been booked for kidnapping. Medical examination of two girls has confirmed rape. We are still waiting for the forensic report.”The Dalits alleged that they were warned by the Jats of the village not to report the matter to police. The families of the victims have decided to move the Supreme Court for rehabilitation and compensation. A petition, being readied with the help of Human Rights Law Network, will be filed on Monday.

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Why seriously affected clinical trial patients not compensated? Supreme Court asks

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NEW DELHI: After ensuring that multinational pharmaceutical majors compensate those who die during clinical trials of their new drugs, the Supreme Court on April 22 2014 pulled up the Centre for not forcing the sponsors to provide similar relief to those suffering serious adverse effects during such trials. Taking up PILs seeking stringent yet transparent guidelines and norms for conduct of clinical trials in India, a bench of Justices R M Lodha and Kurian Joseph asked additional solicitor general Sidharth Luthra for details on compensation paid to patients adversely affected during clinical trial of new drugs.

The health ministry had responded to allegations by NGO, Swasthya Adhikar Manch, that Indians were used as guinea pigs by foreign pharmaceutical majors for human trials of their new drugs and said of the 57,303 enrolled subjects, 39,022 completed the trials. "Serious adverse events of deaths during the clinical trials during the said period were 2,644, out of which 80 deaths were found to be attributable to the clinical trials," the ministry had said. Luthra said kin of all 80 patients, who died because of adverse effects, were compensated by the sponsors.

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HRLN is a division of the Socio-Legal Information Centre (SLIC). SLIC is a non-profit legal aid and educational organization, registered under the Registration of Societies Act, 1860, Indian Public Trust Act, 1950 and the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act, 1976.