Saturday, 28 January 2017

National Seminar in Calicut

Following from Dr. Muhammadali N.

University of Calicut, Kerala
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication
UGC sponsored
National Seminar on
March 1 and 2,  2017

E.M.S Seminar Complex
University of Calicut
The role of mass media in respecting, protecting, fulfilling and educating human rights has been well recognized. However, equally, media have been severely criticized as an agency of human right violations. This dialectical performance of media as protectors of the rights as well as perpetrators of their violations triggers much debates in the contemporary socio-political context.
As the mirror of our society, media are entrusted with reflecting the stark realities of public life through objective reportage and unbiased positions. Successfully accomplishing this mission the mass media have played a crucial role in making our history creative and humane. However, while covering the truth, most often than not, news reporters face the dilemmas that lie at the heart of ethical choices, mostly in connection with human rights. There are many instances where reporters fail to defend the rights of citizens in their attempt to cover the news even though they do their best to follow the ethics. This may be due to their uncompromising commitment to the profession or to the larger interest of the society. In addition to this, the post truth socio political context emerged out of the proliferation of newer and newer digital media platforms and the related algorithmic interventions poses threats to the media in defending human rights.
With an objective of exploring the various aspects of this interplay between media and human rights, the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Calicut is organizing a two-day national seminar on ‘ Media and Human Rights’ on March 1 and 2, 2017.
The seminar will focus on the following three dimensions of the issue:
a)            Media as a defender of human rights
b)            Media as a violator of human rights
c)            Media as an educator of human rights

1              Media Laws, Ethics and Human Rights
2              Challenges of Reporting Human Rights Issues
3              Media as Human Rights Educator
4              Gender and Media: A Human Rights Perspective
5              Media and the Minorities: The Question of Rights
6              Digital Media and Human Rights

1. The abstract not exceeding 300 words should mention clearly following:
a)      Title of the paper
b)      Name/s of the Author/s
c)       Institutional Address and affiliation
d)      Email ID
e)      Objectives of the study
f)       Methodology
g)      Expected Outcome
h)      Keywords
2. Format in MS Word (Font: Times New Roman (Font Size 12) with double line spacing 
3. The abstracts should be sent to directly with Subject line: [Title of the Paper – Sub theme – Name of First Author]
Submission of Abstracts                                :                               February 13, 2017                           
Intimation of Acceptance             :                               February 15, 2017
Submission of Full paper               :                               February 25, 2017
Registration Fee                               :                               Academicians                                                    Rs. 1000
                                                                                                Research Scholars and Students                                Rs. 500
Registration fee covers conference kit, abstract book and lunch coupons.
Selected papers will be published in conference proceedings with ISBN
Accommodation and Transportation
All delegates will be accommodated on the campus guest house on first come first serve basis. The campus is well connected with bus, train and flight facilities.

Dr. Sucheta Nair
Associate Professor, Dept. of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Calicut

Dr. Muhammadali N
Head, Dept. of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Calicut

Established in 1968, University of Calicut (UoC) is the largest University in Kerala with 200 plus academic programmes and 450 affiliated colleges and 3.5 lakh students enrolledevery year. On its main campus, the University runs 35 teaching and research departments and a number of externally funded advanced centers for research and studies.

Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Calicut was started in 1978. The Department offers Masters, MPhil and PhD programmesin Mass Communication and Journalism. The curriculum covers theoretical and practical dimensions of print, broadcast and online media integratinglatest trends in media. The Department is equipped with advanced multimedia production facilities, digitized library and networked knowledge repositories. Tie ups of the department with industry majors ensure professional training and placement for students.

Dr. Muhammadali N, Coordinator
National Seminar on Media and Human Rights
Dept of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Calicut 673635, Kerala, India
Mobile  :               09961566725
Office    :               04942407385
Email     :                 

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Who killed Osho?

I am extremely happy to know that my young colleague Abhay Vaidya's book is now to ready to hit the bookstores. Abhay has covered Osho since he was with me at the Indian Post in 1987. I am sure his book will unravel the mystery of Who Killed Osho. Here is a piece extracted from

Extracted from the forthcoming 
Who Killed Osho? by Abhay Vaidya, to be published by Om Books International

In India, there was animosity towards Osho from the government, bureaucracy and a large section of the people, and Sheela reasoned that he should move to the U.S. because of the superior quality of life and greater tolerance among the people there. The Pune Commune was trying to live up to Western standards of perfection and professionalism, and to achieve that, it imported all its requirements including gadgets and equipment at 125% to 200% import duty. Since Western followers had begun to dominate the Rajneesh Movement during the Poona-I days itself, the U.S. with all its advantages and attractions as a leading nation of the West emerged as the ideal destination to operate from. It would be far easier for people from the West to come to the U.S. and the Commune would be financially worthwhile too.

Osho’s severe backache during 1980-81 and the need for advanced medical treatment in the U.S. were stated as the official reasons for his departure to the U.S. in June, 1981 on a temporary tourist visa. However, three developments clearly indicate that a detailed plan had been worked out to establish an ambitious Commune and settle there permanently.

[…] According to the official version, Osho had left for New York for a spinal surgery as a disc “was protruding onto the nervous tissue of his spine.” However, that surgery never happened as Osho recovered “miraculously.” About four months after arriving in the U.S., Osho was fit enough to travel, and was flown by a private jet to the ranch in Oregon. In 1981 itself, Osho’s American disciples purchased the 64,000 acre Big Muddy ranch in Oregon for $5.75 million and invited him on a visit. “He eventually agrees to stay in the U.S. and allows an application for permanent residence to be filed on his behalf.”It was Sheela who had previously visited and identified the over-grazed, desolate property known as The Big Muddy ranch located in central Oregon that stretched over 64,000 acres—125 square miles. It was renamed Rancho Rajneesh and the nearby town of Antelope became the city of Rajneeshpuram after Osho’s followers won the local elections and installed their own mayor.

The calculations of Osho’s top managers were not off the mark because Osho’s sannyasins, through their hard work and enterprise, had created an oasis in the desert.An estimated 5,000 people made their way to Rancho Rajneesh and contributed generously with their life’s savings, time and talent to the Movement in the hope of establishing a successful Commune as per Osho’s vision of the New Man. Special summer festivals were held which attracted thrice that number.

At its peak, the Movement had a hotel and an airlines of its own called Air Rajneesh; at least one Swiss Bank account with ‘contingency funds’ specially reserved for Osho’s needs, and a growing collection of 97 Rolls Royces which had grabbed headlines, not just in America but all over the world. With their ingenuity and hard work, the sannyasins took to farming, construction and road-building. The trailer apartments for the arriving sannyasins had central air-conditioning, and a bus service called ‘Rajneesh Buddhafield Transport’ was created.

Although the Oregon Commune made a spectacular beginning with its eye-popping fleet of Rolls Royces and the promise of an extraordinary experiment in Commune life, the four-and-a-half years that Osho spent in the U.S.—from June, 1981 to November, 1985—turned out to be the worst years of his life and the worst phase for the Movement. There was constant friction with the local community which made the ‘Rajneeshees’ unpopular with locals in the towns and villages neighbouring the ranch, and there was intense factional fighting within the Commune.

At Rancho Rajneesh, three factions were engaged in a power struggle: Sheela, who was the most powerful and the most domineering had her faction of loyalists and felt insecure by the ‘Lao Tzu people’—those like Amrito, Nirvano, Devageet and Shunyowho were closest to Osho. Sheela was not only jealous of their proximity to Osho but also felt insecure with the strong ties emerging between them and the Hollywood group. Eventually, the Oregon Commune imploded with the intense jealousies, power politics and murder attempts between these groups.

The Sheela faction’s attempts to repeatedly poison Amrito (who was not only close to Osho but also married to Hasya while in the U.S.), and Nirvano, were a part of this power politics. Sheela was eventually convicted and imprisoned in the U.S. on the charge of attempting to poison Amrito.

According to Sheela’s faction, a secretly taped conversation between Osho and Amrito discussing euthanasia was the provocation for the murder attempt on Amrito by Sheela’s aide Shanti Bhadra (Catherine Jane Stork) who stuck a syringe filled with adrenaline into his buttocks during a crowded gathering. One person who testified to hearing this conversation was David Knapp, also known as Swami Krishna Deva and ‘K.D.’ Appointed Mayor of Rajneeshpuram, Knapp testified that he “listened to a copy of a tape from a bug in Bhagwan’s room where he (Devaraj) and Bhagwan discussed him assisting Bhagwan in committing suicide.” Sheela also suspected that Osho was a victim of dangerous drug experimentation and overdose and that Amrito was a threat to his life.

The author's email address:  


Thursday, 19 January 2017

Marathi book for UGC SET.NET. PET exams

I am delighted to inform you that a Marathi book titled
UGC SET.NET. PET for Communication and Journalism has been launched this week. The authors are Prof. Dr. Sudhir Bhatkar, Department of Communication and Journalism, North Maharashtra University, and Prof. Vinod Nitale, Head of the department, Communication and Journalism, Moolji Jaitha College affiliated to the University.
 I am delighted because not many books are available in Communication and Journalism, more so in Marathi. There has been no book available for students who wish to prepare themselves for examination for NET, SET and PET.
I am happy to note that this book has been published in a district down of Maharashtra, Jalgaon, and not in Mumbai, Pune or Nagpur which seem to have a monopoly in the publication of the academic books.  
Equally important for me is the fact that Jalgaon is my hometown!

Prof. P P Patil, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, released the book for publication at an informal function.

Congratulations to the authors!

The book has been published by Prashant Publications. Pages: 388Price: Rs. 325.00

Contact them at 
Prof. Dr. Sudhir Bhatkar: 
Prof. Vinod Nitale: 
Prashant Publications.



Prof. Dr. Sudhir Bhatkar


Prof. Vinod Nitale

Thursday, 12 January 2017

A short film by FLAME students to be telecast today by NDTV Profit

A short film mentored by my colleague at FLAME University, Prof. Ravikant Kisana, has been selected to be aired today, 12th January,at nine pm on NDTV Profit Prime Channel

The film deals with the issue of land acquisition and social justice. It was put together by the fourth year UG students, Garima, Hriday, Mayanka, Nihaal and Param.

Kiran Thakur

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

हाकारा । hākārā : a bi-lingual journal of creative expression

Following from Dr Ashutosh Potdar,
I am glad to share with you that we are initiating an online bilingual journal of creative expression, हाकारा । hākārā. With a thematic focus for each issue, the journal will be published in English and Marathi.
We plan to publish our first issue in April 2017 on the concept of Memory/आठवण. Please see the concept note along with an appeal for our first issue below.
I take this opportunity to invite you to contribute to हाकारा । hākārā through your critical writings, art works, fiction, videos or any other form that you may like to explore. Also, it would be great if you could help us spread the word by circulating this email among your students, friends and associates.
I look forward to your contribution and support in this endeavour.


हाकारा  hākārā a bi-lingual journal of creative expression

हाकारा । hākārā

//: (m) हाकबोलावणे;
a call, a general or a great and continued calling

Our contemporary lives and actions have been radically influencing expressions of writing, image-making and publicizing. Conversely, the production, consumption and circulation of expressions have influenced the aesthetics, politics and networking today. With hākārā, our aim is to explore and practice newer ways of producing and appreciating creative expressions while encouraging dialogue between different fields of expressions. Considering a rich and diverse body of creative work, we’ll focus on creative and critical writing in Marathi and English across literary and visual forms of expressions.

In keeping with this focus, hākārā will be published online in freely accessible and interactive format by focusing on the area that may help us address the diversities and the synergies implicit in literary and visual cultures.

The hākārā editors would be interested in the sharing of research, speculations, literary and visual work presented innovative ways that responds to current debates while being attentive to the nuanced understanding and interconnectedness of content, form and society. We particularly encourage innovative nature of literary and visual images, critical artistic practices and developments that inform the contemporariness of the medium (and its pasts and futures), as well as the formal qualities of words and images in changing contexts.

| hākārā | Appeal for Call 1 |

Memory | आठवण

For ‘Call 1’ to be published in April, hākārā would focus onMemory/आठवण.
Another moment, another day, another year passes by. But, merely running handles of the clock on the wall do not signify time passed or memories gained. Not only a new year celebration or birthdays inspire us to look back or ahead, or make us lament and predict. A broken eye-glass frame, a rusted bicycle bell, a signature on a yellowed pages from family archive, the haunting past of hierarchies, a video-recording of instigating speech by a political leader, the handbills of a play of the bygone era, the unwanted memory of filthy touch in a public space, a photograph of a public garden after the bust of a writer was pulled out, or a junked mobile-handset...They make us live and re-live the memory.

Still, we get baffled when it comes to answering: how do we perceive the time that has ‘passed over’? How do we form and retrieve memories? How do we understand memories that are baggages of something other than clocked-moment fashioned in linearity?   

If you are a fiction writer, poet, visual artist, critic, photographer, translator or a curator; you are invited to send your work in English and/or Marathi in response to Memory /आठवण, as you may perceive it. You may send your work byFebruary 15, 2017 to Select works will be published in the forthcoming issue of हाकारा ।hākārā.

Ashutosh Potdar & Noopur Desai
Editors, हाकारा । hākārā

Ashutosh Potdar is a writer and a scholar writing in Marathi and English. He is a faculty of literature and drama at FLAME University, Pune.

Noopur Desai is an art critic and researcher writing in Marathi and English. She is a doctoral student of visual arts studies.

Dr Ashutosh Potdar
Associate Professor,
FLAME University,


Pune-412115 (India)

Tel: +91-20-67906133

Mobile : +917387005358

Friday, 6 January 2017

Following from Mr. B N Kumar and Mr. Balasubramanya A.S.

We are glad to inform you that Public relations Council of India (PRCI), the premier organization of PR, advertising, media and HR professionals and academicians, will hold its 11th Global Communication Conclave on March 3 to 5, 2017 at Bengaluru.
The theme for the 11th Global Communication Conclave is:DISRUPTION?
Be it the media, communication, Politics, Economy, Science, Religion, Education, Energy, Health, relationships and even the way we Think – it seems to be disruption that is impacting our lives at every step.
The question mark with the theme is deliberate – to make all of us think, ask ourselves and, probably, come to a conclusion in this Manthan - the churning of thoughts.

As a prelude to the Conclave, we at PRCI are organizing a World Case Study Contest with the following options:

For Indian Communication Professionals

  1. Demonetisation: Pain or Gain?
Everybody is talking about it because each and everyone of us is impacted by it. Please analyse the issue, its impact and the communication aspects related to it
  1. Ecological Crisis – Its forever?
Are we as communicators effectively dealing with the environment, sustainability, CSR in a responsible way? Re we as communicators losing track and resort to mere lip service or cosmetic communication?
  1. Swachh Bharat – fad or reality?
Has the communication hit the right target? Have communicators taken it up as a big challenge and dealt with it? Or was it left out as a political gimmick? Analyse success/failures attached with the drive.
  1. Financial Inclusion – On right track?
This is a much talked about issue for ages. From Garibi Hatao to Pradhan Sevak, all successive governments have been talking about it. Let’s do a reality check and how and where communication can play a role

For International Communication Professionals:

  1. Disruption – A global Phenomenon?
After the social media invasion, Disruption seems to have become a buzzword all over. I it for real or disruption is just another fad or misused word. Whatever it is, isn’t disruption impacting us at every step? For instance, Obama disrupted the way Americans voted, Brexit did disrupt European relations, terrorism is disrupting world economies. So, let’s discuss the impact and the role of communicators in understanding disruption and getting over it.
  1. India – Expectations from an emerging Global Super Power
India has emerged as a new investment destination thanks to its democracy, political stability and above all open window policies. Yet, critics say its miles to go for India before it emerges as an economic super power. What is that the world expects of India. Is India doing the right communication? Are the right signals going out? Please analyse all aspects and post your case study.

  • Please pick up a subject of your interest and send in a case study that fits into a ten-slide (yes, just ten crisp slides) ppt presentation.
  • Please also send in the study in Word format with proper heads for possible printing in PRCI Case Study Book.
  • Top entry in each category will be picked up by an independent jury.
  • The winning entries will be presented by the contestants at the Conclave on March3/4, 2017.
  • These and few other case studies picked by the jury will be published in a special compendium – PRCI Case Study Book 2017.
  • PRCI hopes that the compendium will serve as a good reference material for communication professionals as well as mass communication and management tudents.
  • The decision of the jury will be final and binding on all contestants and no further enquiries will be entertained.
So, what are we waiting for? Just switch on your computers and start banging!

Please clearly mark the subject as: PRCI Case Study Contest 2017

The deadline for receiving the entries at PRCI is: January 31, 2017.

Please send your entries to:

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

International Conference on Media and Communication Studies

Following from Prof. K. Nithin

Amity University Rajasthan

Amity School of Communication 

International Conference on Media and Communication Studies 

March 02 - 03 2017

Venue: Amity University Rajasthan

City: Jaipur
Country: India

Theme: Contemporary Trends in Media Theories and Practices

Call for Paper

During the keynote address of International Conference on Media and Communication 2015 held at Amity University, Rajasthan, Denis McQuail stressed in the future of the field of communication. He pointed out that “Communication science is the study of the uses and languages of media for purposes of control and influence, for self-expression, for social and cultural identity forming. It requires attention to the structures of the flow of ‘messages’ and to the various norms and rules governing public and private communication in a variety of contexts”.

The research on media and communication has always been in a state of constant change. During our last two conferences (ICMCS 2011 and 2015) we sought the paradigm shifts happening in media and communication disciplines. The scholars from various corners of the world and came and uncovered the complexities of understanding media and communication. From this point, we are presenting the International Conference on Media and Communication Studies and focusing on the theme “Contemporary Trends in Media Theories and Practices”.

The ever-changing nature of academic discipline constantly leads to reshape the scope of research areas. Communication, as an academic discipline, is of no exception. Turn of the 21st century, media consumers are increasingly signing for direct satellite, rushing to buy large screen plasma sets and growing dependent on services provided by the internet. Additionally, post -Cold War period gave rise to international capitalism, which forces MNC’s to reach into every corner of the world. These privatization trends have enormous effects on telecommunications generally and mass media systems specifically. Other than this, the influence of the internet and mobile technologies is reinforced, allowing people to have on demand access to any content at any place and at any time.

The mass communication, as an academic discipline, always shows how societal upheaval and new technological inventions leads to the development of different theories and novel research areas about the role of media. As rapid industrialization was linked to the rise of mass society theory, the rise of totalitarian regime occasioned the growth of propaganda theory; contemporary media theories and new avenues for research will definitely evolve and is evolving to accommodate the rapid alternations between people and media. With the development of the internet and mobile technologies, several research areas have opened up concentrating on the nature and trend of new forms of media and its online content. Several research areas are coming up revolving this new form of medium.

Within the given framework, we seek abstracts for conference presentation under following tracks: 

Track 1: Political Communication
Track 2: Cinema and Visual Studies

Track 3: Media Education and Pedagogy

Track 4: Development Communication
Track 5: Graphics and Animation 
Track 6: Digital Communication

Abstract Submission Guidelines:

1. The abstract should mention clearly following:
(a) Title of the paper
(b) Track
(c) Name of Affiliation of Author
(d) Email ID
(e) Track
(f) Aim of the study
(g) Proposed Methodology
(h) Expected Outcome
(i) Keywords (maximum five)

2. The abstract should neatly typed in MS Word (Font: Times New Roman (Font Size 12) with double line spacing. 

3. The abstracts should be sent to directly with Subject line: [Submission of Abstract – Name of Track – Name of First Author]


Sunday, 1 January 2017

Critical Evaluation of Functioning Of Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (2001-2011)

I am extremely happy to inform you that my journalist colleague Yogesh Joshi, Associate Editor of The Hindustan Times, based in Pune, has been awarded the Degree of Philosophy as per the details below: 
Hearty Congratulations: Kiran Thakur

Sant Gadge Baba Amravati University

of the thesis for degree of Doctor of Philosophy for subject Political Science in the faculty of Social Sciences

for research topic

Critical Evaluation of Functioning Of 
Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (2001-2011)

Yogesh Madhukar Joshi

Under the supervision of
Dr. Shailendra K Deolankar

Date on which PhD degree awarded: October 30, 2016

Critical Evaluation of Functioning of 
Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (2001-2011)


Every human being, irrespective of race, religion, region, gender, nationality, is inherently entitled to basic rights. These rights seek to ensure not just the survival of every member of the society but also insist for a civilized life that provides fundamental freedom and security. The progress of the society is possible only when the state and the citizenry are mindful of human rights, which in turn advocate peace and protection to the mankind. Human rights are universal and every human being is equally entitled to them without any discrimination. Human rights find place in both – national and international – laws either as natural rights or legal rights. The process of accepting Natural rights as legal rights began during eighteenth century following the idea of natural law started taking shape. Subsequently the legal rights found place in the constitutions of nations.

Indian law - the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 - defines human rights as “the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed under the constitution or embodied in the international covenants and enforceable by courts in India.” At the core of human rights concept are the bare necessities that mankind is entitled to while living a civilized life. There shall be no exemption or derogation from the basic necessities, rather perceived as “sacrosanct rights”, in an enlightened civilization. However during the period of emergency, state has powers to suspend certain rights although at no point it should involve into any type of discrimination on the ground of race, religion, gender and language. The broad categorization of human rights can be civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights even as all of them are indivisible interrelated and interdependent. Any violation of one right adversely results into deprivation of other rights. Similarly, enhancing one right enhance the process of advancement of the other rights.

Numerous treaties, conventions and resolutions among States with the provision of legal binding intended to safeguard human rights have been introduced through international law. The international human rights law finds inspiration through the principle of universalism of human rights, the concept of which was not in existence during the medieval era but took shape post second world war. On December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ (UDHR). The declaration spells out among other issues the fundamental civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that every person of every state should enjoy. The UDHR has been reiterated at different international conventions on human rights. One of the basic principles of international human rights laws are non-discrimination; The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 1) underline this principle by stating that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Many states having witnessed the large-scale violence and the atrocities during the Second World War desired for peace and sought protection through human rights. The idea for a Declaration on human rights immediately found support among the international community. Thus at a convention in Paris, the Declaration was accepted, making it a first major achievement of United Nation following its formation. Apart from United Nations and individual states, many non-governmental organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and International Service for human rights work towards the monitoring, protection and promotion of human rights. However despite many organisations working for protecting human rights, violations continue to occur in various parts of the world. The annual report (2010) submitted by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights suggest that violation of human rights has been witnessed in many countries. While the list of some countries involved in human rights Abuse includes Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bolivia and Sierra Leone, the discrimination on the basis of race is the cause for atrocities against ethnic minorities.  

From the ghastly practice of sati and child marriages, both of which were abolished under British Raj, to atrocities against minority community, fresh cases of malnutrition and the sex crimes against women, India has a long history of human rights violations. India does not have an encouraging record on freedom index either, although its Constitution has covered fundamental rights that guarantee various freedoms to the people of India. One of the fundamental rights covered under the constitution is right to freedom that guarantees six freedoms that chiefly include freedom of speech and expression.  

Numerous communal riots in different parts of the country raise questions over India’s secular image even as the free and fair Judiciary through its frequent interventions has reposed the faith of law in the minds of people. The fast spreading violence carried out by left-wing extremist, rather known as naxals, is another area of challenge in the field of Human Rights in India. Government’s efforts to take fruits of development to the naxal-infested backward areas of India make human rights there even more parlous especially in absence of rule of law. The diverse nature of the country identified through variety in its ethnicity, language, culture, economic background and burgeoning population makes human rights issue more vital in India. Amidst this diversity and the numerous challenges that country has had to deal with in its journey towards development by democratic means, protecting human rights remains a challenge. On the whole though, India has never been regarded as concern in the field of human rights, according to United States Library of Congress. This is even significant given the fact that almost all the neighboring states of India, which includes Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Myanmar, have been grappling with issues of human rights. The contradictory view comes from another 2010 report by Human Rights Watch. The report said India had significant human rights problems, some of them ranging from lack of accountability for security forces and police brutalities. Most complaints that India’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has received since its inception in 1993 have been against the police department. Nature of these complaints, according to NHRC (source – NHRC website), includes failure to act against culprits, unlawful detention, false implication, custodial violence, illegal arrests, custodial deaths and fake encounters. Other major complaints include child marriage, communal violence, and sexual and other crimes against women. In its Universal Periodic Review submitted to UN Council of Human Rights, the NHRC said, number of complaints that NHRC annually receive against police stands at 35 % while complaints against public servants for inaction in 2010-11 stood up to 9 %. These natures of complaints broadly provide the idea of nature of Human Rights violations in the country.  

Owing to changing global scenario, India enacted a law to protect human rights. The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, is India’s expression in its concerns to promote and protect the fundamental rights of its citizens. Under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, India constituted National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in October 1993. The same Act also enabled states to constitute State Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Courts across the country to dispose cases of human rights violation. The Act applies to the whole of India provided that its implementation in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is subject to matters covered under seventh schedule of the Constitution as applicable to that state. The Act empowers the NHRC to accept complaints as well as suo motu take cognizance of the cases involving human rights violation or negligence on the part of state authorities or public servants. The NHRC has powers under Protection of Human Rights Act as equivalent to civil court to inquire into the case and conduct trial on the basis of petition submitted to it. 
The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 empowers states in India to constitute a body to be called as State Human Rights Commission with the name of the state prefixed with it. Since enactment of the Human Right law in 1993, as many as 23 states have constituted State Human Rights Commission besides a national body called National Human Rights Commission. The Maharashtra States Human Rights Commission (MSHRC), a statutory autonomous body was established on March 6, 2001 with its headquarter in the state capital Mumbai, with the aim of administering the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 in order to promote and protect human rights in the state. By way of information, education and publicity the MSHRC promote, protect and enforce the human rights. During the period 2001 to 2011, the MSHRC has received 45769 cases. Among the initiatives that MSHRC has taken over the years include workshops for Police officials and Tehesildars in order to sensitize them towards a humane approach while dealing with various matters including actions and arrests. The MSHRC has conducted various seminars for creating awareness towards Human Rights.

Objectives of the Study:

1.  To understand structure and functioning of Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC)
2. To understand authority and powers of MSHRC
3. To evaluate issues handled and decision taken by MSHRC
4. To understand various initiatives of MSHRC in last one decade for the promotion and protection of human rights.
5. To review various recommendations of MSHRC
6. To assess the performance of MSHRC
7. To evaluate the interface between MSHRC and Maharashtra Government.

8. To propose recommendations and amendments in the Protection of Human rights Act, 1993 to strengthen MSHRC.

Significance and rationale of the study:
Human rights have become global issue and there is an increasing sensitivity towards the promotion and protection of Human rights. While awareness of Human Rights is increasing across the world, international agencies such as the United Nations, Amnesty International have become global watchdog to monitor Human Rights violations. India in its quest to become global power has taken many initiatives to safeguard and uphold Human Rights. One of the prominent steps India has taken was enacting the Protection of Human Rights Act thereby constituting the National and State Human Rights Commissions across India. The Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC), established in 2001 under Protection of Human rights Act, 1993, has completed more than 10 years of its existence. It was a high time to evaluate the performance of MSHRC and give suggestions for improving its performance. The Protection of Human rights Act, 1993 has completed two decades in 2013 and the success of this act has also been evaluated.

The formatting style of the doctoral level thesis prescribed by Sant Gadge Baba Amravati University was followed while conducting this research and writing the thesis. Methodology of this research work was predominantly subjective analytical, theoretical and interpretational based on the review of primary and secondary sources. The research was based on both historical and comparative method. The comprehensive approach methodology was employed in data collection and their logical interpretation. Necessary technique of maintaining accuracy in the interpretation of information was taken care of. The entire process of collection of data was diverse as well as extensive. The data was obtained through both manual and technological sources through the application of various techniques and methods. To keep verifiability of the work open to any researcher the appropriate methods of citations and footnoting have been followed.

Review of Literature:
Primary sources –
Some of the primary data required to conduct research was available on the Annual reports published by Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC). Additional information in the form of statistics was also available on the websites of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and MSHRC. These two websites and respectively have statistics pertaining to the pending cases and the disposed ones. Recommendations and orders issued by MSHRC were available on its website and in Annual Reports published by the Commission. This was referred for doctoral thesis. Information pertaining to various initiatives taken by MSHRC for the promotion and protection of Human Rights and the progress report of the Commission was also available on the website and Annual Report, which were referred while carrying out research. International agencies such as United Nations (UN) and Amnesty international also have their own websites and The two websites have multiple data related to status reports of prevailing Human Rights conditions in various countries as well as provisions in the international declarations and covenants. All this information was used during the course of research.

Secondary sources –
Various newspaper and magazine articles from English and Marathi periodicals having news reports on Human Rights conditions along with books on Human Rights were referred during the research. A book by Charles Norchi, “Human Rights: A Global Common Interest” throw light on Human Rights are in the interest of entire world for prosperity and maintaining peace. In another book “Human Rights: UN Initiatives” author Rahul Rai discusses steps taken by United Nations to promote Human Rights in various countries which are its members. The United Nations General Assembly adopted ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ (UDHR). The declaration spells out among other issues the fundamental civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that every person of every state should enjoy. For the theory and concept of human rights, Brian Orend’s book Human Rights: Concept and Context was referred. In his book National Human Rights Commission of India, Arun Ray provides and background and context in which the government of India enacted the Protection of Human Rights Act which provided statute to National and State Human Rights Commissions in India. The author has also reviewed Commissions of other counties.  Ashish Kumar Das and Prasanta Kumar Mohanty in their book Human rights in India discuss in threadbare the theories of human rights.   
In a Chapter on United Nations, Human Rights, And Humanitarian Affairs: The Theory by Thomas Weiss, David Forsythe and Roger Coate writes in the book “The United Nations and Changing World Politics” about international relations with the perspective on Human Rights. Umesh Kadam in the journal World Focus writes Nuremberg Trial Revisited to discuss Human Rights conditions having background of post World war II Nuremberg trials of Germany’s war criminals. Another essay appeared in the journal World Focus by Manoj Kumar Sinha with the title “International Criminal Court: A Background” focuses on various atrocities being committed across the globe and the role of international criminal court in dealing with such cases. Shailendra Deolankar in his research paper on the topic International Criminal Court: New Dawn for International Justice appeared in journal of Institute of Human Rights inception of International Criminal Court to provide justice in matters of international crimes. The article discuss Court taking up cases of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crimes of aggression is a fresh beginning to provide justice against human rights violations across the world. All this information was crucial while writing the thesis and conducting the research.

1. The MSHRC has been partially successful in performing its duties.
2. The commission has performed both judicial and investigative functions.
3. The MSHRC has been successful to a great extent in creating awareness and sensitize people on Human Rights in the state.
4. Some of their recommendations have been accepted by the state government.
5. MSHRC has taken numerous academic initiatives in promotion and protection of Human Rights.

Summary of chapters:
The thesis titled “Critical Evaluation of Functioning of Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (2001-2011)" critically examines the performance of Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission and proposes certain recommendations to improve the functioning of the Commission in order to protect and promote human rights in the state of Maharashtra. Divided in six chapters, the thesis attempts to touch upon broad aspects of human rights, starting from the theoretical premise on which human rights are based; how the rights evolved in the international and Indian context; the structure, powers and functioning of the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission; the cases handled by Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission and recommendations made on them and the concluding chapter that attempts to evaluates the performance of the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission.            

Chapter I - Theories and Concept of Human Rights

The first chapter of the thesis titled "Theories and Concept of Human Rights", attempts to summarize the premise on which rights are based. The chapter begins by explaining in detail what the human rights mean, the source and the origin of human rights. As summarized in the chapter, human rights as a phenomenon can be traced back to ancient times where they were developed from the idea of natural rights. Social thinkers have put different theories forward to substantiate the point that how human rights have become an element of social expectations. The first chapter has covered different theoretical approaches to explain human rights. The chapter elaborately dwells on it, further explaining that who really posses the human rights given that there are different takes on the issue. While every individual by virtue of being human is entitled for human rights, any simple assertion that every human hold all human rights is be too simplistic to determine the identity of human rights-holder, stresses the researcher in the chapter.

In the later part, the chapter provides overview of three generations of human rights. Human rights of first generation are primarily those designed to protect the individuals against the interference of state while second generation rights are associated with economic, social and cultural inequalities and require that the state should act to ensure this equality to the people. The third generation human rights are distinct from the first and second generation rights. The realization of the third generation rights dependent on the behavior of each individual besides the affirmative and negative duties of the state. The chapter further explains human rights from different ideological perspectives to underline how different ideologies prioritize rights.

Chapter II - Evolution of Human Rights in International Context

As the title suggests, the second chapter summarizes progress of human rights at international level and dwells on international community joined hands in adopting various resolutions to protect human rights. The researcher stresses that human rights rode on the process of internationalization early 19th century although it received real push only at the end of world war II, especially on the backdrop of massive destruction that the world witnessed. At the beginning, the chapter touches upon how former US president Woodrow Wilson's 14 points became the premise of peace program. Setting up of International Labour Organisation (ILO) was yet another step in putting breaks on workers exploitation, a form of human rights abuse. The second chapter cites ILO preamble to elucidate that the main thrust of the ILO was to stop exploitation of the labour class among the industrialized nations of that time.  

The chapter provides overview of how the formation of United Nation spurred the process of internationalization of human rights. The article 1 of UN charter, as reproduced in the chapter, states that: "The purpose of UN is to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion." The researcher has cited this article to underline the significance of human rights for the global body.  

The second chapter further provides a detailed account of what prompted UN to adopt International Bill of Rights that includes Universal Declaration of Human Right, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The chapter explains how the Universal Declaration of Human Rights became one of the significant milestones in internationalization of human rights. By adopting the Declaration, the United Nations made its first move towards formally codifying the human rights at international level, thus clearing grey areas on the issue among the international community. One of the lacuna though was the Declaration wasn't legally binding on member-states. To make human rights legally binding various international covenants were signed. The chapter provides overview of these covenants, which are a part of International Bill of Rights.

Chapter III - Evolution of Human Rights in Indian Context: 

The first two chapters were focused on the concept of human rights and their evolution at international level. The subsequent chapters of the thesis are about the human rights in India and the mechanism to protect these rights in the country and in the state of Maharashtra. Speaking about the third chapter, titled as "Evolution of Human Rights in Indian Context", the focus has been on the progress of human rights in India, especially about the Constitution of India providing protection to the these rights. The chapter begins with the background on need for inclusion of human rights in the Constitution of India. The chapter dwells on how the concerns that were expressed during the freedom struggle reflected through the Constitution in the form of fundamental rights and directive principles. The chapter cites preamble to underline the point that it epitomizes aspirations of Indians and the philosophy of underlying basic principles of the people of India.  

 While the Constitution of India has referred human rights as fundamental rights, the chapter attempt to answer what these fundamental rights are; why are they essential and what were the challenges faced by drafting committee led by BR Ambedkar while including fundamental rights in the Constitution. The chapter dissects each article covered under part III of the Constitution, which is about fundamental rights. In the subsequent part, the chapter explains how directive principles mentioned in the Indian Constitution act as a guiding principles in the attempt to safeguard human rights. While the Constitution of India has enough provisions to protect and promote human rights, there are practical difficulties in the implementation of human right. The chapter lists out these obstacles. While many countries have effectively used human rights as a tool to pursue their diplomatic goals, the chapter attempts to answer the role of human rights in India's foreign policy. Finally, the chapter summarizes India's role in Human Rights Council, which is the second most important arm of United Nations after the Security Council.  

Chapter IV - Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission: Structure, Powers and Functioning

The fourth chapter of the thesis titled "Maharashtra Human Rights Commission: Structure, Powers and Functioning," includes the State Human Rights Commission's organisational structure, how it execute functions and the powers it has under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. The chapter puts forward the historical references surrounding the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, which provides constitutional validity to the Commission. The chapter further provides an overview of human rights commission from other countries. A statutory autonomous body, the Maharashtra Human Rights Commission came into being on March 6, 2001 with the purpose of protecting and promoting human rights. The chapter dwells how the State Commission was set up to supplement the efforts of NHRC. Elaborating on the process of setting up the Commission, the chapter provides information about its current and past chairmen. 

Coming on to the Constitutional part, the chapter covers under what section of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, the State Commission was established, how the appointments of Chairman and other members of the Commission are being carried out, and the provision for removal of its member. The chapter then focuses on what the relevant sections of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, pertaining to the functions of the Commission, powers relating to inquiry, investigation say. The chapter includes procedure while inquiring into the complaints and steps to be taken after inquiry. Under 'structure of the Commission', the chapter covers its broad area of work and how the commission deals with applications in addition to the broad categories about different decisions the Commission may deliver. The elaborate list of issues that reflect in the numerous complaints have been mentioned at the end of the chapter.   

Chapter V – MSHRC: Cases and Recommendation Orders: 

The fifth chapter in the thesis, titled, "MSHRC: Cases and Recommendation Orders" summarizes the complaints received by the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission and the decisions delivered on these complaints. Addressing the grievances of human rights victims, and making people aware about the protection and promotion of human rights has been the primary area of the Commission's activity. In 10 years of its existence since 2001, the Commission has received 45,769 cases. Out of which the Commission has disposed 42,725 cases. The chapter begins by providing statistics about cases disposed off by the Commission every year since inception through a progress report. The chapter also provides charts on year-wise statistics of custodial deaths and the cases of suo motu cognizance by MSHRC.

While the Commission every year receives large number of cases, the data obtained from the MSHRC shows that there are fewer number recommendations made against the complaints. Moreover, the compliance have been made in even lesser number of cases. The chapter gives the summery of number of recommendations and how many have been complied with. The chapter provides summery of select complaints, serving as representative for others from the same classification, and the action taken on these complaints by the MSHRC. Cases mentioned in the chapter are of police atrocities, illegal detention, administrative and medical negligence, denial of legitimate benefits, inconvenience, corruption, unhygienic conditions causing nuisance, bonded labour/child labour, violation of right to vote, street children, unsatisfied investigation by police and social boycott.   

Chapter VI - Conclusion

The sixth chapter analyses the previous chapters to critically assess the functioning of Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission and proposes suggestions to improve Commission's performance. The Protection of Human Rights Act, which provides statutory basis to the MSHRC, has completed 20 years. The chapter also evaluates success of the Act and makes recommendations.

The Protection of Human Rights Act and the constitution of the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission provided by the Act, have advanced the protection of basic rights in the state of Maharashtra given that grievance expressed by large number of people were successfully addressed by the Commission. The MSHRC, despite its several shortcomings, has remained an indispensable institution in the state of Maharashtra. From 2001 to 2011, the MSHRC has attempted to provide relief to number of people by recommending actions. As a result of the valuable service being rendered by the MSHRC, number of complaints received by the Commission every year has grown with the exception of 2009 to 2011. Established on March 6, 2001, the Commission in its first year received 1454 cases. In its fifth year on 2005-06, the Commission received 5585 complaints. While increase in number of cases may not directly be linked to people's growing faith in the Commission, it certainly is an indicator of MSHRC being a strong hope for people especially when the other arms of State machinery cause injustice to them.
The initial cynicism expressed by some about the usefulness of rights body appears unfounded given the work MSHRC has carried out in protecting and promoting the human rights. Out of total 45,769 cases received by the MSHRC during 10 years since 2001, the Commission disposed of 42,725 cases. Among the overall disposed cases, 28,220 cased were disposed in limine while 14,505 cases were disposed after hearing. On its part, the Commission however has been partially successful in performing its duties since the number of cases waiting to be disposed of has also increased to a large extent. At the end of first year after the formation of the Commission, there were 916 cases pending. By the end of fifth year (2005-06), pendency of cases increased manifold with 3965 cases waiting to be disposed of. In the subsequent years the Commission disposed higher number of case and as a result, by 2010-2011, pendency came down to 3044 cases. There are number of reasons attributed to the pendency of cases.
One reason for high pendency of cases is the scrutiny of the complaints. There are applications, which the MSHRC registers with itself but gets dropped in the scrutiny for not being in the jurisdiction of the Commission for reasons such as some complaints are against private individuals or vague or more than a year old or pending with other Commissions or Courts. While the office of the MSHRC accepts most applications, scrutiny is done at the level of Commission, which comprises of chairman and member. Both, the chairman and member of the Commission are often burdened with disposal of cases and as a result, work pertaining to review of application takes a backseat, leading to piling up of cases. Another reason for the high pendency of cases is delay in appointments. The appointment of chairman and the members are done by governor based on the recommendations made by a committee headed by chief minister. Often it takes months to appoint new chairman and members after the expiry of the term of preceding members or their abrupt resignations.
When the Commission is without chairman and members, the staff can only accept complaints with no powers to take any call on those applications. The functioning of the Commission is similar to that of Courts where no case can be heard without judge. In other words, the chairman and each member of the MSHRC constitute a "bench", which can hear cases. The media has time to time reported on the delay in the appointments at the Commission, which has resulted in the high pendency of cases. On numerous occasions, the MSHRC was dysfunctional owing to absence of chairman and members as the state government delayed appointments. The section 21(a) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, demands that Chairman of the Commission has to be the chief justice of High Court. This narrows down the choice, causing the delay while appointing the Chairperson at the Commission.
The third reason that affects the efficiency of the Commission is shortage of staff and the necessary infrastructure. Most of the Class III and Class IV staff at the Commission are recruited on daily wage, bringing inconsistency in the work of the Commission. In an interview given to Times of India, dated February 21, 2012, former Commission member T Singarvel noted that inadequate infrastructure was one of the reasons for him in minimal disposal of cases. "For long, I had no stenographer. I used to write orders by hand. When I was provided with a stenographer, he was on daily wage. Still, I have done justice to my job," Singarvel said in his ToI interview. The post of Secretary at the MSHRC is important one given that the person in charge in the Chief Executive Officer at the Commission.
However, the past record shows that on numerous occasions officials were given additional charge as Secretary while their tenure remained short lived. Questions have been raised whether officials appointed elsewhere with the additional charge as MSHRC Secretary would be able to do justice with both the post he or she is holding. At the same time short lived tenures have brought in frequent discontinuity, hampering the overall efficiency of the Commission.
Another crucial point to explore is to what extent the recommendatory powers of the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission effectively dealt with the issue of safeguarding the human rights. The recommendations made in its order by the MSHRC following the investigation into the cases where there have been allegations of human rights violation are not binding upon the respective government agency. The recommendations are sort of guiding principles on which the respective government agency is supposed to act in its commitment to protect human rights of the individuals.
The empirical evidence suggest that rate of detecting of human rights violations by the MSHRC has not been high while rate of compliance over the recommendations made by the MSHRC has been even less. The statistics made available by the Commission suggest that during 2001 to 2001, out of 14,505 cases disposed by the MSHRC after receiving report or conducting hearing, recommendations were made only in 1973 cases which is 13.6 %. As far as compliance was concerned, the picture is even dismal. As per the report received by the Commission, recommendations in only 88 cases have complied with while in other cases similar action is awaited. This suggest that MSHRC still has long way to be accepted as credible statutory body to be taken seriously by public offices.
While outright rejection of recommendation citing bureaucratic hassles is common, there are instances when the Commission has witnessed partial compliance of its order. Partial compliance are either related to releasing part of the amount as a compensation to the victim or acting partially while taking the disciplinary action against those responsible for violation of human rights. One of the commonly heard problem area is delayed compliance. While the orders recommending action obligate the public department to act in specific period (e.g four to six weeks) the compliance is rare within the time stipulated by MSHRC. In cases where there is delayed compliance, the action sometimes becomes less meaningful as it fails to provide relief to the complainant when he needs it most.
The low compliance rate makes MSHRC a weak body with no direct powers to prosecute or enforce in totality the orders issued by it. It also expose the inherent structural flaws of this otherwise great institution. Without powers of prosecution, the MSHRC looks as a toothless body. While the judiciary has the backing of contempt of court under section 2 of Contempt of Court Act 1971, which can invite action in case of any disobedience to the court judgment, the same does not apply to MSHRC since the Protection of Human Right Act has no such provision. Most cases that MSHRC receive are against the senior public servants including police personnel and jail authorities. While in some cases the MSHRC has recommended action against senior public servants, the government, it appears, has exhibited lethargy in taking action against them.
The Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission has been empowered under section 18(b) of the Protection of Human Rights Act to approach High Court or Supreme Court for direction on implementing its recommendation orders. In other words if the respective public authority fails to comply with the order issued by the MSHRC, the Commission can approach the higher court. However, the MSHRC's record suggests it has hardly invoked this provision given its non-confrontationist attitude as well as absence of follow up mechanism. Once the MSHRC delivers recomendatory order, it does not follow up with the government if its directions are not complied with.
Another crucial point to be considered is that the mandate of MSHRC is limited since the Protection of Human Right Act has restricted the scope and ambit of human rights in the country as well as states. According to the section 2(d) of the Protection of Human Right Act human rights have been defined as "rights relating to life, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India". Therefore the Act requires national as well as state human rights commissions including MSHRC to focus more on civil and political rights than social and economic rights.
As far as mandate to inquiry is concerned, as per the Act, the Commission can inquire into allegations of corruption only against public servants. That leaves out private citizens even as they are responsible for infringement on fundamental rights. In case if there are allegations of human rights violations against persons working in private firms, the victim can reach out to relevant government authority with the complaint. If that authority fails to act, then the petitioner can approach the Commission with the complaint that the state authority has not performed its duties. The same applies to the cases of human rights violation at domestic level. The MSHRC in some of its orders while hearing allegations of human rights violations have recommended action against public authorities which failed to take action against persons working in the private sector.
Recognizing that death in the custody is a public matter requiring impartial investigation for the protection of individual interests of family of the deceased as well as of society in general, the state government through its circular has made it mandatory for concerned officials to report custodial deaths to the Commission. As a result, the number of cases pertaining to custodial death has increased every year. The MSHRC on its part seemed to have turned blind eye to cases of deaths in police custody. In 10 years beginning 2001 to 2011, the MSHRC failed to dispose even a single case of custodial death. Activist working in the field of human rights have questioned MSHRC's failure to dispose cases of custodial deaths. Indeed, if the Commission has been unable to clear even a single case of death in police custody, then questions will be raised if the very purpose of establishing the Commission has been served. After all, death in the custody of any state machinery is becomes matter of public concern. It requires an impartial investigation for the protection of individual interests of family of the deceased as well as of the society in general. According to UN principles of medical ethics, the doctors have a duty to provide the prisoners with protection of their physical and mental health and treatment of disease of same quality and standard as is afforded to those who are not imprisoned.
The Commission while addressing the complaints of human rights violations has performed the task of investigative functions, mentioned under section 14 of the Protection of Human Rights Act. The Commission has powers to inquire matters of human rights violations related to the list II and III mentioned in the seventh schedule of the Constitution. The Commission for the purpose of investigation as a part of inquiry into the complaint of human rights violation has used the services of central and state government agencies. Under the special inspector general of police, who has powers to guide investigations into the complaints, the Commission had launched probe in many cases. The probe carried out under the guidance of inspector general of police has helped the Commission in disposing the case with greater impartiality.
While inquiring into the complaints, the Commission, as stated in section 13 (1) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, have powers that of civil court trying a suit under Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. The Commission as per its powers, has summoned witnesses and examined them on oath. The Commission in some cases enforced the presence of witnesses; received evidence on affidavits; made discovery and production of relevant documents required to probe the matter. Requisitioning public record from court or office has been one of the judicial functions conducted by the MSHRC.
Among the cases that the Commission has received during the first decade of its existence, a high number of complaints were related to atrocities by police and custodial deaths. An analysis of the complaints against police shows that cases mostly include allegations of abuse of power by police force, failure to register complaint, false implication, illegal detention, torture in the custody and bribe. The Commission through its order has recommended action in many cases although the state government has been reluctant to act.
At the same time, large number of complainants was from the economically or socially lower strata, which are often vulnerable to the human rights exploitation by a powerful lot. While one way to minimize the exploitation is to bridge the gap between people from lower and upper strata by empowering the former, institution like Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission plays out a great leveler where poor can complain against mighty public servant working at the helm in government machinery. Over the years, MSHRC has received complaints from every district of the state. This further indicated that people from every corner of Maharashtra are aware about MSHRC.
The first annual report published by MSHRC cites number of cases received from each district of Maharashtra. From Mumbai to Gadchiroli and Kolhapur to Nandurbar, the Commission has received complaints from far flung areas of the state. This shows that MSHRC has been able to sensitize people to a large extent on issue of human rights in the state. Also, had it not been the increased level of awareness, the number of complaints received by the Commission would not have gone up. From the inception of MSHRC, there has been steady rise in the cases every year, except for year 2009-10 and 2010-11. However many of those who come to Mumbai at the Commission headquarter to register complaint or attend hearing face hardship spending time, money and other resources. Complainants from Gadchiroli and Chandrapur, which are on the eastern part of the state, have to travel down around 900 kilometers to come to Mumbai to register their statements. To ease the hardships faced by the complainants, the Commission conducts hearing in different parts of the state on specific intervals.
The Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission achieved an important milestone in 2005 when the Commission launched its website - The website was a step forward in increasing the outreach of the MSHRC. Through the website, the Commission's efforts have been to increase the accessibility among masses. Following its launch, the website has received good response with 379706 visits till January 2015. However the website does not provide adequate and updated information. Unlike the National Human Rights Commission, which accepts complaint online, the MSHRC has not been able to introduce similar system. The complainant has to submit his complaint either in person or through post.
The MSHRC lacks on account of transparency. The MSHRC has made is annual reports available only till 2006 while the printing of annual reports from 2006-07 onward was in process during January 2015 when the thesis was underway. The annual report contains information about the performance of the Commission including the complaints handled by the Commission, the nature of complaints, surprise visits made by the Commission and observation and recommendations. The information cited in the MSHRC proves to be crucial for researchers and journalist covering the human rights beat.
The city of Mumbai where MSHRC is headquartered has diverse and huge media presence. Very often, the electronic and print media approaches the State Human Rights Commission for information on various cases. In such scenario, the absence of full time information officer at the Commission makes it difficult for the MSHRC to provide the information to the journalists as and when required.
The functioning of the MSHRC has been smooth and hassle free while the procedure for registering a complaint and the subsequent actions on it are simple. While the Commission doesn't charge any fees at any level, the complainant can directly approach the MSHRC with his grievance. The complainant does not need to engage lawyer to argue the case on his behalf and rules of evidence are not rigidly followed. Unlike in the courts where legal counsels are required to argue the case, there is no such need at the Commission. A layman can also file a complaint and present his side. The complainant can straightaway approach the MSHRC with his case and seek speedy justice. The free and speedy redressal has resulted in large number of people from economically downtrodden section of the society looking for justice from MSHRC.
Besides admitting complaints coming from the petitioners, the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission has proactively acted on certain cases of human rights violation. The MSHRC has effectively made use of section 12(a) of the Protection of Human Rights Act and taken suo motu cognizance of cases where there have been human rights violations. In 10 years after its establishment, the MSHRC has in total taken cognizance of 118 cases suo motu. Most of these violations were reported by media and NGOs, upon which the Commission acted proactively initiating the inquiry. However this number is very low given that media of late has been reporting on human rights violations quite aggressively.
In the cases where the MSHRC has found violation of human rights or negligence in preventing the violation of human rights by a public servant, the Commission has recommended action against the guilty using the powers rendered to it under section 18 of the Protection of Human Rights Act. The empirical data suggest, the MSHRC in most cases has ordered monetary compensation. The compensation ordered by the Commission is to be provided by the respective department of the government. In cases where conditions of hospitals, jails are not up to the mark, the MSHRC has made praiseworthy recommendations to improve the situation. The Maharashtra government too has acted on the recommendations submitted by the MSHRC.
As per the section 21(5) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission can inquire into human rights violations only in the respect of matters related to any of the entries enumerated in List II and III in the seventh schedule of the Constitution. It means the MSHRC is not empowered to inquire into matters pertain to any of the entries mentioned in List I. The list includes defence and security establishments, which have been kept out of bound from the state Commission.
The State Commission is housed in a century-old government building having a heritage tag. Being a heritage structure has its own problems as it creates hurdles for the Commission, which has not been able to create new facilities, even its burden is increasing with number of complaints going up every year. Currently the MSHRC is located at Hajarimal Somani marg, CST, Mumbai. The location of the MSHRC however turns of to be beneficial for those who come up with their complaints. Many complainants coming from other parts of Maharashtra find the MSHRC office very convenient as it situated just opposite the land mark Chhtrapati Shivaji Terminus where one can get down by railway.
Despite being overburdened by the complaints coming from across the state, the MSHRC has no bench in other parts of Maharashtra. As a result it sometimes becomes inconvenient for the complaint to incur heavy cost and come to Mumbai for hearing from some extreme corners such as Gadchiroli in the east and Kolhapur in the south. To be fair with the MSHRC, it has on occasions organized hearing in different parts of the state so as to make it convenient to the petitioners. The response received during such hearing was good. However there is no fixed timing when the State Commission hold sittings outside Mumbai.
Apart from hearing the petitions, the MSHRC as per the provisions of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 has been encouraging various academic initiatives in the field of human rights. The section 12 (g) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, the Commission shall undertake and promote research in the field of human rights. The Commission has aided various research works through the full time researcher officer. At the same time the Commission has recruited interns to give them opportunity to learn more about the human rights. This is being done with the view to spread awareness on human rights issues among university students. The internship is normally given to law students preferably from the backward class. The internship program is an yearly academic initiative carried out twice in the year during summer and winter.
The MSHRC has been actively involved in spreading the human rights literacy across the different groups in the society Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. The MSHRC through various workshops and seminars held awareness programmes to creating literacy about the human rights in different sections of society and promote the safeguards available for the protection of human rights, as envisaged in the section 12(h). On many occasions, the invitees were legal and other experts to shed more light on the issue. Some of the workshops and seminar were based on the themes such as 'human rights and disability', 'police as a protector of human rights', 'rights of mentally ill in prison and custodial institution' and 'gender equality and protection of human rights'.
The MSHRC has been encouraging the non-governmental organisations working in the field of human rights by supporting their initiative. To disseminate the information about the non-governmental organisations working in the field of human rights, the MSHRC has published a list on its website which is helpful for those seeking help and others carrying out research. The chairman and the members of MSHRC participated in several lectures organised by the NGOs and other organisations.
The chairperson and members of MSHRC as a part of sub-committee time to time carried out visits to various police stations in the state to ensure whether rights of arrestees are being protected under article 21 and 22 of the Constitution of India. While article 21 of the Constitution stress right to life or personal liberty, guaranteeing against any kind of torture and assault by the state authorities, article 22 provides protection against arrest and detention in certain circumstances. The Supreme Court while hearing DK Basu versus state of West Bengal case issued guidelines to achieve objectives under article 21.
As per the directions of the Supreme Court, the MSHRC constituted sub-committee first time in December 19, 2001 to monitor the 11 guidelines issued during DK Basu versus state of West Bengal case. The sub-committee is headed by the chairman of the Commission and comprised of members. The main function of the subcommittee was to verify compliance on the spot. Almost every year since 2001, the sub-committee has made surprise visits to various police stations across Maharashtra to verify if guidelines issued by the Supreme Court are being followed or not. Wherever the sub-committee noted non compliance of the Supreme Court guidelines, it directed the in-charge officials of the respective police stations to adhere to the requirements.

At the end of drawing conclusion, the researcher has proposed recommendations to improve the functioning of the MSHRC. Some of the key recommendations, which will strengthen MSHRC if conceded, have been mentioned as follows:
   In an attempt to make functioning of the MSHRC more effective, the need of the hour is to amend the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, which provides statutory backing to the State Human Rights Commission. Some of the proposed amendments are:
a.       One of the important amendments required to be brought in to make the Commission more powerful is to grant enforcement powers replacing the existing system wherein it can only recommend action. The Commission should be granted powers to enforce its order by bringing in amendment in section 18(a) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
b.      Under the existing constitution of MSHRC, the Commission has no powers to invoke contempt notice even if its order is not complied or the person held guilty of human rights violation is disobedient while defying the authority of the Commission. Therefore an amendment is proposed to make Contempt of Court applicable to the Commission by bringing in similar provisions available under section 2 of Contempt of Courts Act of 1971.
c.       Increase the ambit of meaning of human rights in section 2(d) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 by including rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This will increase the scope of the MSHRC as section 2(d) defines human rights as "rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual."
d.      Considering the delay often witnessed during the appointment of Chairperson at the Commission given the non-availability of the retired chief justice of High Court, section 21(a) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 requires to be amended. The amendment should include allowing retired judges at high court and Supreme Court as the Chairperson of the Commission so as to allow appointment expeditiously.
e.       Amend section 21(5) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 to bring under the ambit of the State Commission List I in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India, which mainly includes defence and security establishments. As per the Commission's constitution, the MSHRC can inquire into violation of human rights only in the respect of matters pertaining to the entries identified in the List II and III in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
f.       A clause should be incorporated in the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, providing financial autonomy to the Commission so that it can offer compensation to the victim. The Commission should also have powers to recover the sum from the person or institution responsible for the violation of human rights.
g.      To bring in more sensitivity while addressing the complaints of sexual exploitation of women, an amendment of including a women as a member of the Commission is proposed in section 21 (2) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. Number of members should be increased so as to expedite the disposal of cases and reduce the pendency. It will help the Commission work effectively.
h.      The Secretary of the Commission, who has no powers to hear cases, can be made member ex- officio of the Commission. This would only lessen the burden of the Commission, which has been huge task of disposing large number of pending cases. To make it possible, an amendment in section 21(3) is required.
i.        To avoid accusations of partiality while carrying out the investigation, the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission's investigation team can be headed by a retired judge. To make this happen, an amendment is required in the article 14 of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
j.        Empower the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission to shun its image as toothless body.
 2.      protect human rights of the citizens in a more effective manner, amendments are required in the Constitution of India. Some of these amendments include incorporating rights in the Constitution of India in accordance with Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international covenants such as ICCPR and ICESCR.
3.      The MSHRC conducts its sittings in Mumbai though on occasion it conducts sitting in other parts of the state. There is however no fixed time-frame for sittings outside Mumbai. Therefore the MSHRC should have circuit bench in Marathwada, Vidarbha and Western Maharashtra to make it convenient for the complainants, who come to Mumbai from far ends of Maharashtra spending time, energy and resources. If the circuit bench is not possible, the MSHRC should on monthly basis conduct hearing in each division of the state.
4.      The MSHRC should be encouraged to invoke section 18(2) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 and approach higher court for the compliance on its recommendation orders in cases where the Commission's directions are not obeyed.
5.      Fill up vacancies on priority basis. The post of research officer is significant in an institution like MSHRC. A recommendation has been proposed to have two full time research officers so that if one official is on leave - as in the current case - another officer can continue carrying out research related work so that functioning of the research department in MSHRC will not hinder in anyway.
6.      Provide adequate manpower to MSHRC for its smooth functioning. Those posted at the MSHRC, especially the Secretary and special inspector general should be offered stability to work at the Commission for at least two years. At the same time, post of Secretary requires a full time officer, not someone having additional charge.
7.      The MSHRC while utilizing the provisions of section 12(a) of Protection of Human Rights Act has proactively taken the cognizance of some cases reported by media. However such intervention has been very rare and therefore the Commission has to be more proactive in taking suo motu cognizance of human rights violations especially when media has been aggressively highlighting it.
8.      At a time when the whole world is embracing internet, the MSHRC lags behind in the initiative. While the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has its website, the Commission does not accept complaints online. The MSHRC is recommended to take a cue from NHRC and introduce online complaint registration system.
9.      Given the rise of media and the general awareness in the society, appointment of a full time information officer or Public Relation Officer to deal with queries from the journalists and applications seeking information under Right to Information Act is required.
10.  The MSHRC had taken up the task of publishing annual reports for the past few years in 2015. Publishing the annual reports on regular basis at the end of every year is most necessary.
11.  There has been huge work going on in the human rights field across the world. The MSHRC needs to update its library with books and research papers published in various parts of world.
12.  The MSHRC should be stricter in implementing the Supreme Court’s guidelines in the DK Basu case by taking action against those in-charge officials of various police stations where the committee observes non compliance of the Supreme Court guidelines.
13.  Need for MSHRC to rope in researchers, activists, lawyers and NGOs working in the field of human rights on large scale to create awareness about protection and promotion of human rights.
14.  While educational institutions such as Savitribai Phule Pune University have already introduced human rights education, there is need to commence this at school level.
15.  There is need for different departments of government of Maharashra to be proactive while implementing the recommendation orders of MSHRC. Also needed is setting up of human rights court in each district of the state as provisioned in the section 30 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
16. MSHRC sometimes faces problem of cross filing of complaints. The complainant approaches various institutions with the same complaint, leading to duplication. There needs a mechanism to prevent duplication of complaints through weekly or monthly coordination among State and National Human Rights Commission and High Court.

Yogesh M Joshi                                              Dr. Shailendra Deolankar
(Name of Researcher)                                     (Name of Supervisor)