Human Rights Courts: SC fines 7 states including Odisha

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday slapped cost of up to Rs 1 lakh on seven states for failing to file responses on setting up human rights courts despite its direction last year.

The top court imposed cost of Rs 1 lakh each on Rajasthan and Uttarakhand while noting that neither have they filed the responses nor were their advocates present in the court during the hearing.

A bench comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and B R Gavai also slapped cost of Rs 50,000 each on Telengana, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Meghalaya and Mizoram after it was told that they have not filed their responses.

The bench said all these states can file their response within four weeks subject to payment of cost.

The top court had on January 4, 2018 directed all the states to file their responses on the issue of setting up of human rights courts as mandated in the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, and appointment of special public prosecutors.

During the hearing on Tuesday, the apex court was told that there were two issues — setting up of human rights courts and appointment of special public prosecutors — in all the states.

The bench observed that on July 25 the top court, while hearing another matter, had directed setting up of a centrally-funded designated court in each districts having more than 100 FIRs under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to deal exclusively with cases of sexual offences against children.

“We do not think any further order is required as far as appointment of special public prosecutor is concerned,” the bench said while referring to the July 25 direction.

The bench also asked, “How many states have not filed their replies on the issue of human rights courts?”

When it was informed by a lawyer appearing in the matter that seven states have not filed their responses, the bench slapped cost on them and directed these states to deposit the amount in the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee.

It said the amount deposited by these states would be used for issues related to juveniles.

It posted the matter for hearing after six weeks.

The apex court had passed the January 4 last year order while hearing an appeal filed by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) against a Calcutta High Court order staying its proceedings in a case related to alleged gross violation of rights of orphaned children in West Bengal.

The NCPCR had alleged that the West Bengal government had illegally formed adhoc committees for adoption and given away orphans for adoption in gross violation of law and rules.

The top court had expanded the scope of the plea filed by the NCPCR and ordered that all states be made parties through their chief secretaries.

It had asked the states to respond with details about orphanages and facilities being given to orphan children at those centres and also the procedure followed in giving children on adoption.