BENGALURU: Human rights commissions across the country are drowning under pending cases.
The number of cases not disposed of each year by Karnataka State Human Rights Commission has increased from 19% in 2010 to 44% in 2013.
And the total number of pending cases has been constantly increasing for the past seven years. As of august 1st 2014 there were 15,950 pending cases.
There has also been a 72per cent decrease in the suo-motu cases filed by the commission in 2013 when compared to 2009. That means the commission in Karnataka is largely failing to take action of its own accord against human rights abuses - a clear breach of its watchdog status.
“We have only had an acting chairman since 2012 and there are only two members in what is supposed to be a three-member commission,” said Hungund, a retired district judge and member of the commission.
The commission consists of the Chairman and two other members.
“Earlier the cases were divided among three members, but now two of us have to work on everything. This is one of the reasons for the increase in the number of pending cases,” he added.
“Bangalore has developed very fast and that is the reason for the increase in the number of cases,” said another officer of KSHRC.
Worryingly, the same picture is reflected across the country.
In Kerala the number of cases not disposed of each year has increased from 5% in 2011 to 22.13% in 2013.
The National Human Rights Commission for India is also in trouble. In 2011 it failed to dispose of just 2.4per cent of its cases. By this year that had increased to 27.32per cent.
The number of cases not disposed of has constantly increased from 2,332 in 2011 to 14,049 in 2014.
The Goa Human Rights Commission member, J.A Keny, told The Daily Observer that it was started only a year ago and people are really aware of it.
“We get two to three complaints a day and we are not able to dispose of the old cases,” he added.
In GHRC, almost 78% of the cases registered were not disposed of in 2013.
The government, however, appears to be taking the situation lightly. Over a quarter, 26per cent, of state human rights commissions across India don’t have a chairman.
Jammu and Kashmir, where the controversial ‘Armed Forces Special Powers Act’ is in place, also doesn’t have a chairman.
According to the National Human Rights Commission website, seven out of 26 state human rights commissions do not have a chairman.
In Rajasthan four out of the seven posts including the Chairman are vacant.
Himachal Pradesh, Manipur and Tamil Nadu each have two vacant posts including the Chairman.
For the past seven years, Bangalore Urban accounted for almost 33% of complaints registered in Karnataka each year. It recorded almost four to five times the number of cases than the district in the second place every year.
“In Bangalore there is more awareness and it’s easier for the people to access it, so the numbers of cases reported are more,” said Meera Saxena, Chairman of KSHRC.
(This story originally ran in Daily Observer, a news website published by the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media.)