Karnataka Minister of Social Welfare, Priyank Kharge, has promised to improve things under his watch.

Ktaka govt pulled up for failure to file reports on human rights cases in the state HL Dattu. File photo: PTI
news Human Rights Saturday, August 04, 2018 - 09:32

Karnataka government has been pulled up for its failure to file the mandated Action Taken Report (ATR) regarding human rights violation cases for the past two years. However, this is not surprising since the State Human Rights Commission did not have a chairman for five years since SR Nayak, the first Human Rights Commissioner, left office in 2012.

Addressing a gathering in Bengaluru, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairman and former Chief Justice of India, HL Dattu, said, “The state governments should file ATRs on NHRC recommendations. I would appreciate an update on this issue by the Karnataka government after this two-day open hearing.” 

“Atrocities against SC/ ST communities is a very serious issue and proactive measures taken by the States to fight against such atrocities and ways it takes to ensure welfare schemes should be there for everybody to see,” he added.

Cases registered under KSHRC include custodial torture, death, rape, death in encounters, illegal detentions, police excesses and other violations. 

Activists that TNM spoke to criticised the state government over its lackadaisical approach.

"Basically, the approach in Karnataka regarding human rights, women and child rights seems to be callous. It is not that other states may be dramatically better in this regard just because they have filed the report. But first and foremost, if the ATR is filed, it means there is a little bit of concern and seriousness," KS Vimala, a women's rights activist and former head of the state unit of the Janavadi Mahila Sanghatane, told TNM.

"The state commission alone is not to blame as even SR Nayak during his tenure had repeatedly told open forums that there is no infrastructure, no staff and nothing. It's like a toothless tiger," she added. 

She also blamed the political parties both ruling and opposition for this, saying they are only bothered about "politicking" rather than working on real issues. 

She said, "If the governments were serious in their approach, these institutions would have been strengthened and serve the society but they don't want to do." 

Kripa Alva, former Chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, called for the government to address the issue without any delay.

“I think governments should take cognisance of these commissions like these as they are of great importance. These are statutory bodies which need to be in place. At no point of time, people in need should be left in the lurch and are left with a reply like 'we do not have a chairperson so we cannot help you'.  These commissions are not like any other boards or corporations and every vacancy needs to be addressed the moment it arises,” she told TNM.

Karnataka Minister of Social Welfare, Priyank Kharge, acknowledged the existing situation and promised to improve things under his watch.

"We will definitely work upon the findings of the National Human Rights Commission. Staff shortage is a problem with the entire department (Social Welfare). But it's just not in my hands and it is not only the department's call," the minister told TNM.

"We have written to the KSPC (Karnataka Service Public Commission) and the KEA (Karnataka Examination Authority) along with the Finance Department to fill up the posts as per our sanctioned strength. We are already working towards it," Priyank added.