AFTER THREE years of wait, the Maharashtra State Human Right Commission (MSHRC) got a new chairperson on Thursday, a day before the International Human Rights Day.
In an order passed on December 9, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari appointed retired Bombay High Court judge Kamalkishor Kapoorchandji Tated as the chairperson of MSHRC.
He joined work on Friday, along with M A Sayid and B More — two former members who have been reappointed as the members of the commission.
“All three officials joined duty on Friday on the occasion of International Human Rights Day. We will work in full swing to resolve pending cases and provide justice to citizens,” said MSHRC Secretary Tukaram Mundhe.
The commission comprises five major officials — chairman, judicial member, expert member, secretary and special inspector general of police — who guide, control and direct its overall functioning. With the appointment of the three officials, four posts are currently occupied.
The posts that were lying vacant for years were filled up following HC’s directives to the state in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Vaishnavi Gholave — through counsels Vinod Sangvikar and Yashodeep Deshmukh — seeking directions to fill up vacant posts at the commission in a “time-bound manner”. The PIL also sought directions to the authorities to make adequate infrastructure, including facilities required to conduct online hearing, available on MSHRC premises for smooth functioning of the panel.
The Indian Express had reported that an appeal filed under the Right to Information (RTI) by had Gholave revealed that on May 28, only 26 of the 51 sanctioned posts at MSHRC were filled. The petition had added that the chairperson’s position had been lying vacant for three years.
Sangvikar said, “It was really saddening that in a state like Maharashtra, for three years, the state didn’t appoint a chairperson. Hundreds of complainants have been waiting for years to get justice. Thus, we had to knock at the door of the court.”
The MSHRC has nearly 25,000 pending cases, the highest in the last decade.
Jitendra Tandel, an activist with NGO Runga Kalyan Seva Samajik Sanstha, is one of the complainants whose case has been pending since last May with MSHRC. The 62-year-old, who had passed away due to Covid-19 last September, had filed a complaint with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) about unavailability of beds for the treatment of Covid-19 patients in the first wave.
Now, his fellow colleague from the NGO, Vinod Sadvilkar, is pursuing the appeal with the commission. “So many patients have lost their lives due to unavailability of beds and delay in treatment. Had the commission intervened earlier, many more lives could have been saved. Tandel, who fought for patients’ rights, also had to struggle for a bed when he got infected,” he said.