Friday, February 18, 2011

SC gives last chance to TN govt on activists’ plea

The Supreme Court today gave the last opportunity to Tamil Nadu government and its police to spell out their stands on a plea of two human rights activists alleging harassment for taking up a case of human rights violation.

“It is made clear that no further time shall be granted for filing counter affidavit,” a Bench comprising Justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar said while posting the matter for hearing on February 25.
The court had issued to notice to Tamil Nadu government on the petition filed by rights activists K Saravanan and S Prabhavathi on December 13 last.
It had sought a response from the National Human Right Commission and Tamil Nadu’s State Human Right Commission for allegedly not taking adequate action on their complaints.
In a petition to the court, the two activists alleged they were booked in false charges of cheating and forgery by Tamil Nadu police for taking up with the rights panels an incident involving a brutal attack on three students of Chennai-based Dr Ambedkar Law College.
The petitioners said the three students, who had come to the college to appear in an examination, were attacked by an armed gang of over two dozen students-cum-miscreants, supported by the State’s ruling party, in the college premises right in front of over 40 policemen and officials who did nothing to rescue them and remained mute spectators.
The petitioners said they run an organisation named “World Human Right Commission and Rescue Centre” and publish a few periodicals to spread awareness about human rights.
They said they happened to be present at the college premises on the day of the attack on November 12, 2008 and even videographed it, while also pleading to the present police personnel to intervene and rescue the victims.
But the police refused to oblige saying they have no mandate to enter the college premises.
As the police took no action even subsequently and allowed the assailants to go scot free under the influence of the ruling party, they approached the State Human Rights Commission, which too turned a blind eye to the incident, the petitioners said.
At this, the activists said, they moved the National Human Right Commission which had on November 14, 2008, sought the State’s explanation regarding the attack on the students.
The petitioners said the State police chief, in turn, responded to the NHRC notice, claiming the brawl in the college was the result of a long-pending feud between day-scholars and hostellers and the State was getting the incident probed further by a retired high court judge.
Terming the police response to the NHRC as “an eyewash”, they said that within weeks of their complaint to the rights body, the State government got a “false” cheating case registered against one of them.
In the case, he was alleged to have stayed in February 2009 for a few days at a government guest house in Coimbatore, impersonating himself as World Human Right Commission official and had caused a loss of Rs 400 to the State exchequer.
They were also booked in another cheating case on the complaint by one of the subscribers of their periodicals that he was not receiving the periodical despite paying an annual subscription of Rs 160 to them, the petitioners said.
They submitted that while the State police went on to arrest them and subject them to the third degree treatment in its custody, the NHRC subsequently referred their complaints to the State’s rights panel from which they had no hope of justice.

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