The Supreme Court of India.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a plea seeking direction to the Centre for setting up human rights courts in every district of the country as mandated under the Protection of Human Rights Act.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose issued notice to all 29 states on the plea which also sought appointment of Special Public Prosecutors (SPPs) for conducting speedy trial of offences arising out of human rights violation within a time period of three months.
The petition filed by a law student, Bhavika Phore, sought direction to the Centre for providing sufficient and adequate funds for setting up of human rights court in all 725 districts in 29 states and seven Union Territories in a time bound manner. She also sought an instruction to registrars of all the high courts for the same.
The plea filed through advocate Aakarsh Kamra also sought the Centre and the states to adhere with and implement the provisions of Sections 30 and 31 of the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA).
Section 30 of the PHRA says the state government in concurrence of the Chief Justice of the concerned high court will specify for each district a human rights court for speedy trial of human rights violation, whereas Section 31 of the Act provides for the state government to specify and appoint SPPs for conducting cases.
The plea refers to many reports on custodial deaths in the country in the past years referring to "abuse of power" and "unfathomable torture" undergone by individuals due to police excess.
It also stated the records of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) from 2001 to 2010, according to which 14,231 persons died in police and judicial custody, of which 12,727 died in judicial custody--a large majority of which was a direct consequence of custodial torture.
"Torture remains endemic, institutionalised and central to the administration of justice. India has demonstrated no political will to end torture as it remains widespread and integral to law enforcement," the petition said.
"It is the obligation of the constitutional courts to zealously guard the right to liberty of an individual as the dignified existence of an individual has an inseparable association with liberty," the plea said.
It further contended that "without sustenance of liberty, subject to constitutionally valid provisions of law, the life of a person is comparable to the living dead having to endure cruelty and torture without protest and tolerate imposition of thoughts and ideas without a voice to dissent or record a disagreement."