National Rights panel cut up as babus give public hearing a miss
By Sruthisagar Yamunan - CHENNAI
08th August 2012 07:48 AM
A two-day open hearing by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to adjudicate on grievances of the Scheduled Castes (SC), which got under way here on Tuesday, found many bureaucrats failing to respond to notices or not turning up for the proceedings. Ironically, one of the major reasons for holding the hearing was to tone up the government machinery to ensure SC rights.
The no-show annoyed the judges, who in certain cases made critical observations and even imposed costs on the officials.
It was evident from the beginning that many of the cases had no representation from the official side. This was despite the fact that orders for reply were issued by the NHRC to the respective authorities well in advance.
As such cases piled up, NHRC member Justice B C Patel was cut up. Th anger manifested in a case where a petitioner from Coimbatore alleged that the office of the District Magistrate, also the Collector, had joined hands with the opponents in the petition and delayed issue of pattas to a piece of land to the rightful owner.
When the judge called for the reply from the Collector, there was none. The judge then remarked, “The Commission had called upon the Collector to submit his response without fail as early as July 5. It is difficult to understand why the District Magistrate has not forwarded his response.”
When the petitioner pointed out that he had travelled a long distance to come to the hearing, the judge immediately said, “When the petitioner has come from Coimbatore, the Collector has not bothered to respond or send his representative.... Therefore, the Collector is called upon to pay `1,000 each to the two petitioners from own pocket as costs and not from the treasury.”
The order received a loud round of applause. Likewise, in another instance, the judge pulled up the Commissioner of Police, Chennai for the “unresponsive attitude”, to the NHRC’s directives and said if the response for notices is not received in four weeks, coercive action would be initiated.
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