July 12, 2021 5:56:08 pm
The Bombay high court directed the Maharashtra government to fill up vacant posts of the chairperson and other members of the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) within two months and said the latter cannot seek more time.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Vaishnavi Gholave through counsels Vinod Sangvikar and Yashodeep Deshmukh, seeking directions to fill up vacant posts at the commission in a “time-bound manner”.
According to an RTI reply on May 28, only 26 of the 51 sanctioned posts at MSHRC are filled. The petition added the chairperson’s position is lying vacant for three years.
The RTI also revealed that of the five major posts in the state commission, four, including that of the chairperson, judicial member, expert member and inspector general of police, were lying vacant, noting that only the secretary of the commission was appointed.
The PIL also sought directions to the authorities to make adequate infrastructure, including facilities required to conduct online hearing, available on the MSHRC premises for smooth functioning of the panel.
The PIL said most of the cases with MSHRC are against police authorities over custodial torture/deaths and excessive use of force, adding, the commission, due to lack of staff, was neither being able to proceed with cases and order departmental inquiries nor take action against erring police officers and pay compensation to victims.
On July 8, taking exception to the fact that “more than half of the posts” at the commission were vacant despite recommendations made by the previous chief justice last year, the HC had pulled up the Maharashtra government and sought its reply as to what is “taking so much time”.
Representing the state, assistant government pleader Nisha Mehra assured the appointments shall be completed in two months from Monday.
The bench posted the matter for further hearing on September 13 for reporting developments on filling up posts.
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