Even as the Deonar women’s shelter home, from where rescued women fled because of inhuman conditions, is under the high court’s scanner, the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) which is supposed to take action is sitting idle. The reason behind it is that the three-member commission doesn’t have a single member since the last nine months.
A clerk posted at the commission’s headquarters at CST said, "We feel helpless as we couldn’t initiate action in the Deonar women’s shelter home case. Around 8,000 cases of the poor across Maharashtra are gathering dust here."
Ironically, even though the MSHRC is struggling to function, it has organised a programme at their headquarters which will be attended by principals and students of various city colleges on Monday, which happens to be World Human Rights Day. "Officers will attend a programme at Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women’s University besides answering live queries on DD Sahyadri," said an MSHRC official.
Unable to address complaints, the office is sending all complainants back after filing cases. More than 40 staff members are sitting idle. MSHRC secretary Mafiul Husain said, "We are hoping that the government will finalise the members soon." He also urged the judiciary, media and civil society to come together to protect the rights of vulnerable sections of the society.
As per rules, the commission should have three members comprising a retired chief justice of the high court as chairperson, a retired high court judge as member and another member with eminent body of work in the field of human rights. The commission’s last chairman, justice Kshitij Vyas, resigned in February before completing his tenure. Two other members — justice VG Munshi and T Singaravel — have retired. The state has been unable to find replacements for any of them.
The members are to be selected by a four-member committee comprising chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, home minister RR Patil, speaker of the assembly Dilip Walse-Patil and opposition leader Eknath Khadse. A top Mantralaya official said, "The file regarding the short-listed candidates was lost in the Mantralaya blaze."