Measly budget hampers Maha human rights panel

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Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission is seriously handicapped by shortage of funds, with the budget provided by the government falling far short of the amount sought by the panel to carry on with its works, including conducting awareness campaigns and taking in interns from leading law schools in the country.

The functioning of the panel is also hampered by other constraints like the absence of a police officer of the IG rank to head its investigative arm besides delay in nomination of the members for the slots remaining vacant in the Commission despite frequent requests made to the government, highly placed SHRC sources, requesting anonymity, said.

The panel, headed by retired chief justice of Kerala High Court S R Bannurmath, had sought a provision of Rs. 2.10 crore for 2014-15 for meeting its administrative expenses, but the fund sanctioned by Home Department was a measly Rs. 57 lakh.

With the shortfall in cash, the Commission is finding it difficult to carry on with its responsibilities, like promoting research and studies on human rights issues, an important activity of such bodies in India and other democratic countries.

“Apart from impacting our day-to-day functioning that has been mentioned in the chapter III of the (Promotion of Human Rights) Act by which the Commission was set up, non-availability of funds has come in the way of other responsibilities like giving orientation to interns from law schools,” said Commission sources.

The Commission had asked for budgetary support of Rs. 1.17 crore in 2013-14 and Rs. 2.10 crore in 2014-15. However, the amounts sanctioned were Rs. 49.68 lakh and Rs. 57.25 lakh only in respective years.

The panel, which has 17,359 cases pending before it, has been forced to draw Rs. 1.70 crore from the salary heads to meet day-to-day administrative expenses.

The Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission was established on March 6, 2001 as per international covenants and Promotion of Human Rights Act, 1992, with the objective to keep watch and inquire into violation of human rights by the public servants.