SAC, SHRC, SVO all Rendered Toothless?
Srinagar: The state governments commitment to uphold human rights, ensure accountability of those manning state administration and penalize guilty security force personnel does not hold good on ground since democratic institutions meant for the same have miserably failed to assert their supremacy over impunity enjoyed by all including Babus and Mantris.
Institutional collapse is evident. Jammu and Kashmir State Accountability Commission (JKSAC) has been rendered ineffective. Ministers and Babus have managed to get penalizing recommendations against them stayed in the courts. State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has not bothered to take to task the state home department which has time and again devalued its recommendations which are made after thorough investigation into a complaint lodged aggrieved people. Records bear testimony to the fact that its recommendations in cases of human rights violations have been implemented in parts.
The commission does claim that its recommendations are being observed in letter and spirit but facts rebut these claims out rightly. Commission has been unable to bring guilty to the book and has been reduced to a recommendatory body by the state home department which has reserved the right to approve or disapprove cases of even confirmed human rights abuse. Despite conducting a full-dressed investigation, commission’s recommendations are seemingly looked with an eye of suspicion. To add to this, judges who have an aversion to anyone questioning or criticizing their judgment prefer to remain mute spectators to the complete disregard shown to their well-investigated and legally tenable recommendations in various cases of abuse Jammu and Kashmir.
The commission is at loss of words when asked to refer to one such case where it has managed to accomplish its dutiful obligations. Even justice in the infamous custodial killing case of Human Rights Lawyer Jalil Andrabi’s is yet to be delivered. However, the commission does boost of having fulfilled its mandate by deciding a case of human rights abuse and making a recommendation to the government.
“It is for the government to decide about implementation. We cannot force them to take decisions as desired by us,” said an official of commission. He did threaten me with a legal notice for criticizing commission’s functioning which according to him has been doing wonders and has passed landmark judgments in various cases in the past few months. “Don’t criticize us too much. It won’t be tolerated anymore,” said the official.
Reports of Probe Commissions constituted by the state government in various cases of human rights abuse, custodial disappearances, killings, corruption cases, embezzlements and other related issued have vanquished in the thin air. From mass rapes in Kunanpuspura to rape and murder incident at Shopian, recommendations of the probe commissions have nowhere been implemented.
Jammu and Kashmir government has never missed an opportunity to order probes into incidents and issues which have had some news value. Judges who have been given the task of finding the truth have compiled reports, submitted it to the government and thereafter, never bothered to look into whether their recommendations have been respected and honoured or not for the reasons best known to them.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in his pre-election speeches especially when PDP raked up the demand for demilitarization talked about constituting a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) but within days of taking over the reins of the government out rightly said that the same cannot be constituted without the help of two governments of India and Pakistan. Records do not showcase even a single instance where he would have sought help from the two governments for the same after taking over.
State Vigilance Organization (SVO) which claims of having brought the level of petty corruption down has been unable to explain the mystery behind Jammu and Kashmir still being at number 3 corrupt state of the country. Besides, it is yet to react to the accusations of being selective in choosing its prey on religious basis.
Even the court while deciding a case of corruption observed that while the corruption resides in glass houses and golden halls, SVO is searching the same in broken houses and unfurnished rooms. Moreover, allegations galore that SVO has always been used by ruling parties earlier and now coalitions for settling scores. None is penalized in Jammu and Kashmir, is how a senior minister in Manmohan Singh’s union ministry reacted when asked about the state’s reported denial to allow invigilators to oversee the implementation of a Rural Development Scheme.
“They have become habitual of getting scot free for whatever they do. You talk about impunity enjoyed by security forces alienating Kashmiris. Be sure, state government has alienated more people more by its actions,” is how the minister reacted. He went on and said that funds meant for developmental schemes are being spent on giving salaries to the over-staffed state administration.