Ranchi, Sep 4 (IANS) Sushanto Mukherjee, a rights activist in the Jharkhand capital, is angry — and justifiably so.
“We have gone to the state Human Rights Commission to lodge complaints against the police and for other cases related to rights violations. We are informed that the cases cannot be pursued as there is no chairperson,” a distraught Mukherjee told IANS.
He cited examples: Of Rupesh Swansy, a resident of Bundu in Ranchi who was allegedly killed in police custody; of a minor tribal girl allegedly tortured by a CID Inspector and his family; and of another minor tribal minor girl tortured by police in Latehar.
“None of the cases was taken by the state Human Rights Commission,” Mukherjee said.
A similar situation prevails with the Lokayukta’s office.
“We are running to the Lokayukta’s office for the last several months but we are not getting any response. We are told there that the Lokayukta’s post is lying vacant and this is the reason that the cases could not be pursued,” Ram Kumar Munda, who does odd jobs for a living, told IANS.
Besides, the state Minorities Commission is also headless. And by-polls for some 100 panchayat posts have not been held in the absence of a State Election Commissioner.
How has such a situation come about?
“There is a process for appointment to important posts. The process is on and these posts will be filled soon,” an official told IANS, speaking on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
All this is a tad surprising because the state’s Raghubar Das government claims it will not tolerate corruption and all complaints of irregularities will be dealt with firmly.
But where will the citizens go, if there’s no one to hear their grievances?
The post of Lokayukta is lying vacant after Justice (retd) Amareshwar Sahay’s term expired in January. Since then, it’s been all downhill for the panel.
With no one to head it, complaints of citizens do not get forwarded to the appropriate authorities. The grievances remain stuck in dusty files with no redressal in sight.
Over 650 cases are pending in the state Human Rights Commission. The chairperson’s post has been lying vacant after the term of Justice (retd) Narayan Roy ended a few months back. Moreover, several other posts in the commission are also lying vacant.
As a result, people in the state are left without any mechanism to seek justice in case of rights violations. There’s no one even to take suo motu cognisance as was the case earlier.
The state government is forking out hundreds of thousands of rupees every month to pay salaries to the staff of the commission, even though the body is not operating effectively.
It’s little wonder that the opposition parties are mincing no words in targeting the Raghubar Das government.
“The state government wants to centralise all powers. The panchayats have not been given powers. Even the ministers have no freedom to function,” said Pradeep Yadav of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik.
The Congress echoes similar sentiments. “The post of Lokayukta is a constitutional post. The state government talks of fighting against corruption, but it is keeping the post of Lokayukta vacant. The BJP government only favours the industrialists,” said Alok Dubey, General Secretary of the Congress state unit.
(Nityanand Shukla can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)