PEOPLE in Haryana felt helpless in the face of violence and rioting — during the Jat quota stir — while the police and civil administration watched as “mute witnesses,” said Haryana State Human Rights Commission Chairperson Justice Vijender Jain (retd) Monday. It was this that necessitated the commission’s intervention, he said.
Speaking to The Indian Express, the former Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice said: “What could we do? There was chaos in the state between February 19 and February 23. People were helpless. Nobody was safe. We had to intervene.”
On Sunday, in an unprecedented order, the Commission had invoked Section 13 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, to issue notices to the state of Haryana, Principal Secretary to the Haryana Chief Minister, Home Secretary and the state DGP.
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Section 13, which deals with powers of the commission with regard to inquiries, empowers it with powers of a civil court trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Simple put, the Commission can summon and enforce the attendance of witnesses and examine them on oath, record evidence, requisition any public record from any court or office. This section is rarely put to use.
“The rioting was similar in scale to what this country witnessed during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, which the nation has not forgotten even today. Innocent persons were killed, large-scale looting and arson took place, 17 railway stations were burnt, one police station was burnt.
While all this happened, there was no government. It was complete abdication of authority by the administration and the government. The government officers, who were responsible for ensuring peace and protecting the lives and liberty of the citizens, failed miserably to do so. They will be held responsible and strictest action possible will be taken,” Justice Jain said.
Saying that Supreme Court has held that protestors who destroy property are liable to be punished and asked to make good the loss, Justice Jain said in the case of Jat stir in Haryana the loss is estimated to be over several hundred crores. “Somebody will have to pay for causing such a huge loss. We will look into it. When people elect a party to power, they expect a government which will ensure transparency, efficiency, corruption-free administration and protection of their life and liberty. Failure to do so is violation of the human rights of the citizens. We have taken suo motu cognisance of the incidents and issued notices,” he added.