Human Rights Act has anomalies: Madras HC

Highlighting some anomalies and shortcomings in the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993, the Madras High Court today expressed the hope that lawmakers will enact appropriate amendments to make it "workable".

Last Updated: Sep 07, 2010, 19:37 PM IST

Madurai: Highlighting some anomalies and
shortcomings in the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993, the
Madras High Court today expressed the hope that lawmakers will
enact appropriate amendments to make it "workable".

Justice S Nagamuthu of the Madurai bench said sections
2(d) and 30 of the Act were vague. A conjoint reading of these
two provisions may lead one to believe that all offences
committed by public servants relating to human rights shall be
tried only the human rights courts.

Nagamuthu made the observation while disposing of a
batch of petitions by police personnel and other public
servants questioning the recommendations of the National Human
Rights Commission, including slapping of fine, against them.

He said provisions of the IPC would reflect that most
of the penal provisions could be brought within the ambit 2(d)
of the HR Act. "If this section is so understood, it will
automatically oust the jurisdiction of the ordinary criminal
courts against public servants," the judge said.

"For example, if a policeman meted out cruelty to his
wife and committed an offence under Sec 498-A of the IPC or if
the father of a public servant commits suicide due to abetment
by a public servant, such cases may have to be tried only by
human rights courts. Surely this position would not have been
intended by the lawmakers."

He said the HR Act was silent as to whether HR courts
can try the non-public servants along with the public servants
for the commission of offence by all of them as a group. This
anomaly also should be addressed.

Observing that NHRC`s recommendations were not binding
on any party, including the government, Nagamuthu said neither
the accused nor the victim could approach the high court
challenging the NHRC`s order until the government took a
decision either to accept or reject it.

PTI

Madurai: Highlighting some anomalies and
shortcomings in the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993, the
Madras High Court today expressed the hope that lawmakers will
enact appropriate amendments to make it "workable".

Justice S Nagamuthu of the Madurai bench said sections
2(d) and 30 of the Act were vague. A conjoint reading of these
two provisions may lead one to believe that all offences
committed by public servants relating to human rights shall be
tried only the human rights courts.

Nagamuthu made the observation while disposing of a
batch of petitions by police personnel and other public
servants questioning the recommendations of the National Human
Rights Commission, including slapping of fine, against them.

He said provisions of the IPC would reflect that most
of the penal provisions could be brought within the ambit 2(d)
of the HR Act. "If this section is so understood, it will
automatically oust the jurisdiction of the ordinary criminal
courts against public servants," the judge said.

"For example, if a policeman meted out cruelty to his
wife and committed an offence under Sec 498-A of the IPC or if
the father of a public servant commits suicide due to abetment
by a public servant, such cases may have to be tried only by
human rights courts. Surely this position would not have been
intended by the lawmakers."

He said the HR Act was silent as to whether HR courts
can try the non-public servants along with the public servants
for the commission of offence by all of them as a group. This
anomaly also should be addressed.

Observing that NHRC`s recommendations were not binding
on any party, including the government, Nagamuthu said neither
the accused nor the victim could approach the high court
challenging the NHRC`s order until the government took a
decision either to accept or reject it.

PTI