BHUBANESWAR: Forget protection of human rights, Odisha Government does not even pay heed to the Supreme Court directives. In July last year, the apex court had directed that all vacant posts of Chairperson and Member in State Human Rights Commissions (SHRCs) across the country be filled up within three months, but Odisha Government has not budged yet.
Since 2012, the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is functioning without a full-time Chairperson and has not had a Member __ neither administrative nor judicial __ since April, 2015.
The result: The rights panel is struggling with acting Chairperson Justice B K Mishra ploughing the lone furrow.
Yet, the State Government continues to sit pretty on the Supreme Court order. A bench comprising Justice T S Thakur and Justice R Banumathi, while delivering judgment in ‘DK Basu vs State of West Bengal and others’ case on July 24 last year, directed that all vacancies against the posts of Chairperson and Members be expeditiously filled up by the State governments.
The apex court also laid down a three-month deadline stating that “we can only hope that we shall be spared the unpleasant task of initiating action against the defaulting State in case the needful is not done within the time allotted.”
Since the States remain aware about the dates when vacancies would occur, the court said process for appointment should be initiated well in time in future so that no post remains vacant for a period or unfilled for more than three months. The Supreme Court observed that the very purpose of setting up SHRCs gets defeated if such vacancies are not filled up promptly and the panels remain functional all the time.
However, the State Government has shown very little concern to adhere to the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 and its actions do vouch for it.
After the end of Justice RK Patra’s tenure on November 23, 2012, the panel has had no full time Chairperson. RN Bohidar, a retired IAS officer who was appointed Member of the OHRC in November, 2008, discharged functions as acting Chairperson from November, 2012 till November, 2013.
Justice BK Mishra, who was Member since August 2013, has been officiating as acting Chairperson since November the same year. Since 2003, when it was constituted, OHRC has had only two full-time heads.
As per the composition, the Commission should also have two Members but most parts of the last half a decade, it has managed with just one.
Bijay Kumar Patnaik, former Chief Secretary, was the last Member of the Commission. After he resigned from the post in April last year, no one has been appointed in his place yet.