The post of Chairman of Odisha Human Rights Commission has been vacant for six years ever since RK Patra retired in 2012. Worse still, it has only one member against two posts since Bijay Patnaik resigned two years ago.
The consequence is that pending cases are mounting and the rights body has not been able to take suo motu cases as such cognizance can be taken only by a division bench.
This reflects the utter disregard of the Naveen Patnaik government towards human rights and probity. Lokayukta has not been appointed even as three years have elapsed since the Bill was passed in the Assembly, decry rights activists here. The irony is that the Chief Minister continues to make tall claims of fighting corruption and ensuring human rights of people, they say.
Citing another instance of how the OHRC remains dysfunctional, the activists said as per apex court orders, guidelines for custodial violence have to be overseen by a sub-committee of the rights body to ensure that the guidelines are followed. Justice RK Patra, before his retirement as chairman of OHRC, had formed a three-member sub-committee. But now the said sub-committee is not functioning.
The number of pending human rights violation cases is over 10,000 in the state. As per records, in 2015-16 over 5,800 cases were filed of which 2,395 were against the police and only 1,483 were disposed of, 110 related to the police. Compensation was awarded in only 9 cases.
The expenditure of the commission during the period was over Rs 2 crore.
None are able to explain why the government is not appointing a chairman and a member to the commission, just as there is no convincing answer to why the Lokayukta appointment is delayed for over three years.