State commissions lack teeth: activists


Statutory bodies and quasi-judicial commissions set up in West Bengal are either dysfunctional or have been made defunct, say civil rights activists. Be it the State Human Rights Commission, Women’s Commission or the State Minority Commission, all these bodies present the same dismal picture where complaints have piled up without people getting any succour, allege activists.

“There has been lack of political will by both the previous Left Front government and the current Trinamool Congress government in making these institutions effective. The governments have virtually turned these institutions into signboards and showpieces,” Sujato Bhadra, civil rights activist and former interlocutor in talks between the State government and the CPI (Maoist), said.

Mr. Bhadra said that Commissions were set up during the mid-1990s, but the situation has not changed. While the previous Left Front government had a tacit understanding with these bodies, the existing government has not refrained from expressing its vengeance against such bodies in public.

The failure of such institutions to live up to their responsibilities has affected the civil rights movement in the State, said Sabir Ahamed, a civil rights activist. “Since there has been no public pressure, the State government appointed only those persons who followed their diktats,” Mr. Ahamed said.

Activists like Ranajit Sur points out that it was during the tenure of Justice (retd) Asok Kumar Ganguly that the West Bengal Human Rights Commission seriously took up violations of human rights, which did not go well with the State government. “As various recommendations went against the State government it did not want him to continue at the post. This was a clear case of how the State government does not want such bodies to function,” Mr. Sur said.

The Chairperson of the West Bengal Commission for Women, Sunanada Mukherjee, said though such bodies are meant to uphold the interest of the disadvantaged, the need of the hour is to give more powers to them. “Statutory bodies like the State Women Commission need more teeth. While the infrastructure of these bodies need to be upgraded it is also important that the judiciary takes the recommendations of such bodies seriously,” she said.



  • “Complaints have piled up and people are not getting any succour”

  • ‘Only those who follow government diktats are appointed to these bodies’

Courtesy: The Hindu,28 March,2014 


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