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SC notice to Punjab on PSHRC plea
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 23
The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Punjab Government and its various authorities on a petition by the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC), which virtually has brought the panel in direct confrontation with the judiciary for allegedly interfering in the cases still pending trial in courts.

The cases in which the PSHRC had “interfered” pertained to alleged harassment of certain persons by the Punjab Police officials borne out of criminal complaints, lodged with various police stations and according to the panel, the Punjab and Haryana High Court, while deciding these matters in a common judgement, had given a contrary interpretation to the Human Rights Act on its powers.

Taking cognizance of the Special Leave Petition of the PSHRC, a Bench of Mr Justice Arijit Pasayat and Mr Justice Arun Kumar issued notices to the Punjab Government, state police ASI Baldev Singh allegedly involved in an harassment case, District Magistrate and SP of Gurdaspur, SDM Dhar Kalan in the district and Bishambar Das, who had filed a complaint against the ASI. All the respondents were directed by the court to submit their replies.

The Bench, however, questioned how such a stand was sought to be taken by the PSHRC.

Challenging the High Court’s May 18 order disposing of least eight such cases in which the Commission had “interfered” on complaints of aggrieved persons against the police officials, the PSHRC contended it had powers under the Act to intervene even when the trial proceedings were going on.

The Commission sought stay of the High Court order, contending that it had brought the functioning of the panel to “standstill” and it was not able to discharge its duties properly.

PSHRC counsel Aseem Merotra told the court that the penal had already moved SLPs earlier in other identical cases, decided by the High Court in a common order in which notices had been issued. The apex court directed that all the cases would be heard together.

Seeking quashing of the judgement, the SLP said “the interpretation given by the High Court with regard to the powers and functions of the Commission are against the statement of objects and reasons and the preamble of the Act… because the impugned judgement has curtailed the powers of the panel, which is a fact-finding body with powers to conduct inquiry into the complaints of violation of human rights and which has been set up for better protection of the human rights.”

Claiming that under the Act, the Commission could order withdrawal of FIRs and prosecution and grant interim relief even in the cases pending in courts, the SLP said “the High Court has failed to appreciate that the panel can conduct the inquiry in accordance with the provisions of the 1993 Act, when the police is already conducting investigation after registration of the FIR, or the court is conducting trial, on the plea that all the organs of the state have their independent jurisdiction to conduct their proceedings according to law.


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