Centre To Wind Up Human Rights And Information Commission In Jammu And Kashmir
The Centre has pulled the shutters down for the seven government commissions including the one that regulates human rights in the Valley.
These seven government entities encompass institutions that deal with human rights violation, the Right to Information, the Rights of the Disabled, and allegations against public functionaries.
Centre issued an official order on October 23, Wednesday, with no justification as to why the decision of dissolution has been taken. The official order read, “Consequent upon the repeal of the acts related to these commissions by the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, the sanction is hereby accorded to the winding up of these commissions, with effect from October 31, 2019.”
Talking to The Logical Indian, a prominent Kashmiri Human Rights activist, Khurram Parvez said, “We have worked closely with the State’s Human Rights Commission in the past. So, the question is, what will happen to those cases which are ongoing and pending before the state commission?
Khurram also pointed out that the judgements passed by these commissions were considered to be credible enough to be used as a piece of evidence in front of the international bodies like the United Nations.
“Through their(seven commissions) existence, people still explored the opportunity to report the human rights violations in the Valley. These organisations were people-friendly. It was not mandatory for a legal practitioner to advocate the case. So, victims represented themselves,” added Khurram.
Khurram also demanded clarity on the pending cases whether they will be transferred or being shut under the Reorganisation Bill kept on the table after revoking Article 370.
Commissions To Be Non-Functional From November 1
- Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC)
- State Information Commission (SIC)
- State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC)
- State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC)
- State Commission for the Protection of Women and Child Rights (SCPWCR)
- State Commission for Persons with Disabilities (SCPWD)
- State Accountability Commission (SAC).
Right To Information Act Of Jammu And Kashmir
The act that was intended to provide citizens of India with a legal mandate mechanism for obtaining government records was passed in 2004. However, the act was not implemented in J&K because of its special provisions under Article 370. It later got incorporated in the state law of J&K IN 2005.
However, J&K remained the only state that made amendments to the act and incorporated it in 2009. Now, after dissolving the laws of the state by making it centralised, J&K will follow the guidelines of the 2004 Act.
“Government of India had earlier claimed that RTI was not applicable in J&K. But it was very much there. Our RTI was slightly more progressive than that of India. In the absence of state commission, people will have to rely on the Centre for information and file cases in Delhi that makes it nearly inaccessible,” alleged Khurram.
Kashmiris Belief In The State Information Commission
While activists like Lubna Sayed Qadri successfully accessed the information by filing RTIs in Kashmir, social workers like Naveed(name changed) discredited the framework of the institution claiming that the organisations were just an ancillary of the Centre.
“These commissions were already working under the patronage of the state. From 1989 till now show me one single case where SHRC has done something incredible to get justice to the victims or families of the victims of torture, rape, custodial killings, illegal detentions,” reprehended Naveed.
According to Naveed, even if one files an RTI with the Information Commission, they would hardly get a revert, especially if it is against the state or the establishment. “Suspending these toothless tigers won’t have any effect on common man’s fight for justice,” added Naveed.
Social Activists Raise Questions
The social workers and human rights activists across the nation raised apprehensions over this unruly shutdown of the commissions.
“Indeed, this is a questionable action on the part of the central government. Upholding the human rights of every citizen of the country is central to the idea of a democratic society. The J&K human rights commission has been especially important given the history of violations in the state by the militant groups, armed forces and police,” said Ankush Vengurlekar, founder Adivasis Lives Matter.
Ankush further told The Logical Indian that the very commission that upholds citizens’ human rights is stifling the opportunity to justice for the citizens of J&K. The state human rights commission are not a perfect institution, but instead of working towards making them better, this move is regressive and not in the interest of the 1.25 crore citizens of J&K. This continues the unfortunate pattern of not letting the people of J&K decide what is in their best interest.