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Sunday, July 26, 2015

In regard to CCTV cameras in prison, we see no reason why all the States should not do so. CCTV cameras will help go a long way in preventing violation of human rights of those incarcerating in jails. It will also help the authorities in maintaining proper discipline among the inmates and taking corrective measures wherever abuses are noticed. This can be done in our opinion expeditiously and as far as possible within a period of one year from the date of this order. 29. That leaves us with the appointment of non-official visitors to prisons and police stations for making random and surprise inspection to check violation of human rights. The Amicus points out that there are provisions in the Prison Manual providing for appointment of non-official visitors to prisons in the State. These appointments are made on the recommendations of the Magistrate of the District in which the prison is situated. He urged that the provisions being salutary ought to be invoked by the Governments concerned and non-official visitors to prisons in police stations nominated including independent persons like journalist. There is, in our opinion, no real harm or danger in appointment of non-official visitors to prisons and police stations provided the visitors who are so appointed do not interfere with the ongoing investigations if any. All that we need say is that the State Governments may take appropriate action in this regard keeping in view the provisions of the Prison Manuals and the Police Acts and the Rules applicable to each State. 30. That leaves us with the question of initiation of criminal proceedings in cases where enquiry establishes culpability in custodial deaths and for deployment of atleast two women constables in each district. We see no reason why appropriate proceedings cannot be initiated in cases where enquiry establishes culpability of those in whose custody a victim dies or suffers any injuries or torture. The law should take its course and those responsible duly and appropriately proceeded against. 31. As regards deployment of women constables all that we need say is that the States concerned would consider the desirability of posting women constables in the police stations wherever it is found that over a period of past two years women were detained in connection with any criminal case or investigation. Needless to say that in case women constables are needed in such police stations for interrogation or detention, the State shall provide such infrastructural facilities for such constables as are required. To sum up: 1. The States of Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland shall within a period of six months from today set up State Human Rights Commissions for their respective territories with or without resort to provisions of Section 21(6) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. 2. All vacancies, for the post of Chairperson or the Member of SHRC wherever they exist at present shall be filled up by the State Governments concerned within a period of three months from today. 3. Vacancies occurring against the post of Chairperson or the Members of the SHRC in future shall be filled up as expeditiously as possible but not later than three months from the date such vacancy occurs. 4. The State Governments shall take appropriate action in terms of Section 30 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, in regard to setting up/specifying Human Rights Courts. 5. The State Governments shall take steps to install CCTV cameras in all the prisons in their respective States, within a period of one year from today but not later than two years. 6. The State Governments shall also consider installation of CCTV cameras in police stations in a phased manner depending upon the incidents of human rights violation reported in such stations. 7. The State Governments shall consider appointment of non-official visitors to prisons and police stations in terms of the relevant provisions of the Act wherever they exist in the Jail Manuals or the relevant Rules and Regulations. 8. The State Governments shall launch in all cases where an enquiry establishes culpability of the persons in whose custody the victim has suffered death or injury, an appropriate prosecution for the commission of offences disclosed by such enquiry report and/or investigation in accordance with law. 9. The State Governments shall consider deployment of at least two women constables in each police station wherever such deployment is considered necessary having regard to the number of women taken for custodial interrogation or interrogation for other purposes over the past two years. 32. These petitions are, with the above directions, disposed of. Liberty is, however, reserved to the petitioner to seek revival of these proceedings should there be any cogent reason for such revival at any time in future. No costs.

                                                  REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
                          CRL.M.P. NO.16086 OF 1997
                                     IN
                          CRL.M.P. NO.4201 OF 1997


Dilip K. Basu                                     …Petitioner

Versus
State of West Bengal & Ors.                  …Respondents

                                    WITH

 CRL.M.P. NO.4201 OF 1997, 4105 OF 1999, 2600 OF 2000, 2601 OF 2000, 480 OF
  2001, 3965, 10385 OF 2002, 12704 OF 2001, 19694 OF 2010  IN CRL.M.P. NO.
  4201 OF 1997, CRL.M.P. NO. 13566 OF 2011 IN CRL.M.P. NO. 16086 OF 1997 IN
  CRL.M.P. NO. 4201 OF 1997, CRL.M.P. NO. 15490 OF 2014 & 15492 OF 2014 IN
                     WRIT PETITION (CRL.)NO. 539 OF 1986



                               J U D G M E N T
T.S. THAKUR, J.
1.    In D.K. Basu etc. v. State of West  Bengal  etc.[1]  [D.K.  Basu  (1)]
this Court lamented the growing incidence of torture and  deaths  in  police
custody. This Court noted that although violation of one  or  the  other  of
the human rights has been the subject  matter  of  several  Conventions  and
Declarations and although  commitments  have  been  made  to  eliminate  the
scourge  of  custodial  torture  yet  gruesome  incidents  of  such  torture
continue unabated. The  court  described  ‘custodial  torture’  as  a  naked
violation of human dignity and degradation that destroys self esteem of  the
victim and does not even spare his personality. Custodial  torture  observed
the Court is a calculated  assault  on  human  dignity  and  whenever  human
dignity is wounded, civilisation takes a step backwards.  The  Court  relied
upon the Report of the Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure and the  Third
Report of the National Police Commission  in  India  to  hold  that  despite
recommendations for banishing torture  from  investigative  system,  growing
incidence of torture and deaths  in  police  custody  come  back  to  haunt.
Relying upon the decisions of this Court in Joginder Kumar v. State of  U.P.
 and Ors.[2]; Smt. Nilabati Behera alias Lalita Behera v.  State  of  Orissa
and Ors.[3]; State of M.P. v.  Shyamsunder  Trivedi  and  Ors.[4];  and  the
113th report of the  Law  Commission  of  India  recommending  insertion  of
Section 114-B in the Indian Evidence Act, this Court  held  that  while  the
freedom of an individual must yield to the security of the State, the  right
to interrogate the detenus, culprits or arrestees in  the  interest  of  the
nation must take precedence over an individual’s right to personal  liberty.
Having said that the action of the State, observed this Court, must be  just
and fair. Using any form of torture for extracting any kind  of  information
would  neither  be  right  nor  just  or  fair,  hence,  impermissible,  and
offensive to Article 21 of the Constitution.  A crime suspect, declared  the
court, may  be  interrogated  and  subjected  to  sustained  and  scientific
interrogation in the manner determined by the provisions  of  law,  but,  no
such suspect can be  tortured  or  subjected  to  third  degree  methods  or
eliminated with a view to eliciting information, extracting a confession  or
deriving knowledge about his accomplices, weapons  etc.  His  constitutional
right cannot be abridged except in the manner permitted by  law,  though  in
the very nature of things there would be a  qualitative  difference  in  the
method of interrogation  of  such  a  person  as  compared  to  an  ordinary
criminal. State terrorism  declared  this  Court  is  no  answer  to  combat
terrorism.  It may only provide legitimacy to terrorism, which  is  bad  for
the State and the community and above all for the rule of law.  Having  said
that, the Court issued the following directions and guidelines in all  cases
of arrest and/or detention:

“35.   We  therefore,  consider  it  appropriate  to  issue  the   following
requirements to be followed in all cases of arrest or detention  till  legal
provisions are made in that behalf as preventive measures:

(1)  The  police  personnel  carrying  out  the  arrest  and  handling   the
interrogation of the  arrestee  should  bear  accurate,  visible  and  clear
identification and name togs with their  designations.  The  particulars  of
all such police personnel who handle interrogation of the arrestee  must  be
recorded in a register.

(2) That the police officer carrying out the arrest of  the  arrestee  shall
prepare a memo of arrest at  the  time  of  arrest  a  such  memo  shall  be
attested by atleast one witness who may be either a member of the family  of
the arrestee or a respectable person of the locality from where  the  arrest
is made. It shall also be counter signed by the arrestee and  shall  contain
the time and date of arrest.

(3) A person who has been arrested or detained and is being held in  custody
in a police station or interrogation  centre  or  other  lock-up,  shall  be
entitled to have one friend or relative or other  person  known  to  him  or
having interest in his welfare being informed, as soon as practicable,  that
he has been arrested and is being detained at the particular  place,  unless
the attesting witness of the memo of arrest is himself such a  friend  or  a
relative of the arrestee.

(4) The time, place of arrest and venue of custody of an  arrestee  must  be
notified by the police where the next friend or  relative  of  the  arrestee
lives outside the district or town through the  legal  Aid  Organisation  in
the District and the police station of the  area  concerned  telegraphically
within a period of 8 to 12 hours after the arrest.

(5) The person arrested must be made aware of this  right  to  have  someone
informed of his arrest or detention as soon he is put  under  arrest  or  is
detained.

(6) An entry must be made in the diary at the place of  detention  regarding
the arrest of the person which shall also  disclose  the  name  of  he  next
friend of the person who has been informed of the arrest and the  names  and
particulars of the police officials in whose custody the arrestee is.

(7) The arrestee should, where he so requests, be also examined at the  time
of his arrest and major and minor injuries, if any present on his/her  body,
must be recorded at that time. The "Inspection Memo" must be signed both  by
the arrestee and the police  officer  effecting  the  arrest  and  its  copy
provided to the arrestee.

(8) The arrestee should be  subjected  to  medical  examination  by  trained
doctor every 48 hours during his detention in custody by  a  doctor  on  the
panel of approved doctors appointed by  Director,  Health  Services  of  the
concerned  Stare  or  Union  Territory.  Director,  Health  Services  should
prepare such a penal for all Tehsils and Districts as well.

(9) Copies of all the documents including the memo of  arrest,  referred  to
above, should be sent to the illaqa Magistrate for his record.

(10) The arrestee may be permitted to meet his lawyer during  interrogation,
though not throughout the interrogation.

(11) A police control room should be provided  at  all  district  and  state
headquarters, where information  regarding  the  arrest  and  the  place  of
custody of the arrestee shall be communicated by  the  officer  causing  the
arrest, within 12 hours of effecting the arrest and at  the  police  control
room it should be displayed on a conspicuous notice board.”

2.    This Court also examined whether compensation  could  be  awarded  and
declared that pecuniary compensation was permissible  in  appropriate  cases
by way of redressal upon proof of infringement of fundamental  rights  of  a
citizen by the public servants and that the  State  was  vicariously  liable
for their acts. The Court further held that compensation was payable on  the
principle of strict liability to which the  defence  of  sovereign  immunity
was not available and that the citizen must receive  compensation  from  the
State as he/she has a right to be indemnified by the government.

3.    D.K. Basu(1) was followed  by  seven  subsequent  orders  reported  in
Dilip K. Basu v. State of W.B. and Ors.[5]; Dilip K. Basu v. State  of  W.B.
and Ors.[6]; Dilip Kumar Basu v. State of W.B. and Ors.[7];  Dilip  K.  Basu
and Ors. v. State of W.B. and Ors.[8]; Dilip K. Basu and Ors.  v.  State  of
W.B. and Ors.[9]; Dilip K. Basu and Ors. v. State of W.B. and Ors.[10];  and
Dilip K. Basu v. State of W.B. and Ors.[11]. All these orders were aimed  at
enforcing the implementation of the directions issued in D.K.  Basu(1).   It
is not, in our view, necessary to refer to each one of the said  orders  for
observations made therein and directions issued by this  Court  simply  show
that  this  Court  has  pursued  the  matter  touching  enforcement  of  the
directions with considerable perseverance.

4.    What falls for consideration before us  at  present  are  the  prayers
made in Crl.M.P. No.15492 of  2014  filed  by  Dr.  Abhishek  Manu  Singhvi,
Senior Advocate, who was appointed Amicus Curiae in this  case.  The  Amicus
has, in the said application, sought further directions from this  Court  in
terms of Paras 10(A) to 10(O) of the said Crl.  M.P.  When  the  application
initially came-up for hearing before this Court  on  5th  August,  2014,  we
gave a final  opportunity  to  the  respondents-States  to  respond  to  the
prayers made in the same. We, at the same time,  requested  Dr.  Singhvi  to
identify areas that need attention and  make  specific  recommendations  for
consideration  of  this  Court  based  on  the  responses   filed   by   the
States/Union Territories to the application filed by him.  Dr.  Singhvi  has
accordingly filed a summary of recommendations,  which,  according  to  him,
deserve to be examined  and  accepted  while  concluding  these  proceedings
which have remained pending in this Court for the past 30 years or  so.  We,
therefore, propose to deal with the recommendations  so  summarised  by  the
Amicus Curiae, having regard to the responses of the States filed  and  also
the need for giving quietus to the issues that have  engaged  the  attention
of this Court for such a long time.
5.    The Amicus has, in paras 10(A) to 10(B)  of  the  application,  sought
suitable directions from this Court of  setting-up  of  State  Human  Rights
Commissions in the States of Delhi, Arunachal Pradesh,  Mizoram,  Meghalaya,
Tripura and Nagaland, where such  Commissions  have  not  been  set-up  even
after two decades have passed since  the  enactment  of  the  Protection  of
Human Rights Act, 1993. The application points out that Delhi has   reported
the second highest number  of  human  rights  violation  cases  reported  to
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).  It  refers  to  the  NHRC  Curtain
Raiser published on its 20th Foundation Day, according to  which  out  of  a
total number of 94,985 fresh  cases  registered  in  the  NHRC  the  largest
number of cases (46,187) came from the State of Uttar  Pradesh  followed  by
Delhi, which reported 7,988 cases and Haryana, which reported  6,921  cases.
Despite a large number of complaints  alleging  violation  of  human  rights
from the Delhi region, the Delhi Government has not  set-up  a  State  Human
Rights Commission so far. The application further points out  that  Mizoram,
Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland are all disturbed States  with  problems  of
insurgency, foreign immigration, tribal warfare and  ethnic  violence  apart
from custodial violence and deaths,  which  according  to  the  Amicus,  are
rampant in each one of these States making it necessary  to  have  a  proper
authority  to  look  into  such  violations  and  grant   redress   wherever
necessary.

6.    Despite an opportunity granted for the purpose, the States  that  have
failed to set-up Human Rights Commissions have not  come  forward  to  offer
any justification for their omission to do so. All that was argued  by  some
of  the  counsel  appearing  for  the  defaulting   States   is   that   the
establishment of a Commission is not mandatory in terms  of  Section  21  of
the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.  It was  urged  that  the  use  of
words  ‘A  State  Government  may  constitute  a  body  to   be   known   as
the……………(Name of the State) Human Rights Commission’  clearly suggests  that
the State Government may or may not choose to constitute  such  a  body.  In
the absence of any mandatory requirement under the  Act  constitution  of  a
State Human Rights Commission cannot, it  was  urged,  be  ordered  by  this
Court in the present proceedings.
7.    There is, in our opinion, no merit in the contention urged  on  behalf
of the defaulting States. We say so for reasons more than one,  but,  before
we advert to the same we wish to point out that Protection of  Human  Rights
Act, 1993 symbolises the culmination of a long drawn  struggle  and  crusade
for protection of human rights in this country as much as elsewhere  is  the
world. The United Nations (UN) General Assembly in  December,  1948  adopted
the Universal Declaration of Human  Rights  which  was  a  significant  step
towards formulating and recognizing such rights. It was, then,  followed  by
an International Bill  of  Rights  which  was  binding  on  the  covenanting
parties. Since the Universal Declaration of Human  Rights  was  not  legally
binding and since United Nations had no machinery for its  enforcement,  the
deficiency was removed by the UN General Assembly by adopting  in  December,
1965 two covenants for the observance of human rights viz. (i) the  Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights; and (ii) the  Covenant  on  Economic,  Social
and Cultural Rights.  The  first  covenant  formulated  legally  enforceable
rights of the individual while second required the States to implement  them
by legislation. These covenants came into force in December, 1976 after  the
requisite number of  member  States  ratified  them.   Many  of  the  States
ratified the Covenants subsequently at the end  of  1981.   These  Covenants
thus become legally binding on the ratifying States and  since  India  is  a
party to  the  said  Covenants,  the  President  of  India  promulgated  the
Protection of Human Rights  Ordinance,  1993  on  28th  September,  1993  to
provide for the constitution of a National Human  Rights  Commission,  State
Human Rights Commissions in the States and Human Rights  Courts  for  better
protection of  human  rights  and  for  matters  connected  therewith.   The
ordinance was shortly thereafter replaced by the Protection of Human  Rights
Act, 1993.

8.    In the Statement of Objects and Reasons of  the  Protection  of  Human
Rights Act, 1993 it, is inter alia, mentioned that India is a party  to  the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and  the  International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural  Rights  adopted  by  the  General
Assembly of the United Nations on 16th December, 1966. It is further  stated
that the human rights embodied  in  the  said  Covenants  are  substantially
protected by the Constitution and that there is a growing concern about  the
changing social realities and the emerging trends in  the  nature  of  crime
and violence. The Statement of Objects and Reasons also refers to  the  wide
ranging discussions that were  held  at  various  fora  such  as  the  Chief
Ministers’ Conference on Human Rights, seminars organized in  various  parts
of the country and the meetings with leaders of various  political  parties,
which culminated in the presentation of Protection  of  Human  Rights  Bill,
1993 that came to be passed by both the Houses of  Parliament  and  received
the assent of the  President  on  8th  January,  1994  taking  retrospective
effect from 28th September, 1993.  The significance of the human rights  and
the need for their protection and enforcement is thus  beyond  the  pale  of
any debate.  The movement for the protection of such rights is not  confined
only to India alone. It is a global phenomenon.  It  is,  in  this  backdrop
that the provisions of Section 21 of the Act need  to  be  examined.  It  is
true that a plain reading of the provisions may  give  the  impression  that
the setting-up of a State Human Rights Commission rests  in  the  discretion
of the State Government. But a closer  and  more  careful  analysis  of  the
provisions contained in the Act dispel that impression.  Section 21  of  the
Act, which deals with the setting-up of State Human  Rights  Commission,  is
in the following terms:

“21. Constitution of State Human Rights Commission.—
(1) A  State  Government  may  constitute  a  body  to  be  known   as   the
............................. (Name of the State)  Human  Rights  Commission
to exercise  the  powers  conferred  upon,  and  to  perform  the  functions
assigned to a State Commission under this Chapter.
(2) The State Commission shall, with effect from  such  date  as  the  State
Government may by notification specify, consist of—
(a) a Chairperson who has been a Chief Justice of a High Court;
(b) one Member who is, or has been, a Judge of  a  High  Court  or  District
Judge in the State with a minimum of  seven  years  experience  as  District
Judge;
(c) one Member to be appointed from among persons  having  knowledge  of  or
practical experience in matters relating to human rights.
(3) There shall be a Secretary who shall be the Chief Executive  Officer  of
the State Commission and shall  exercise  such  powers  and  discharge  such
functions of the State Commission as it may delegate to him.
(4) The headquarters of the State Commission shall be at such place  as  the
State Government may, by notification, specify.
(5) A State Commission may inquire into violation of human  rights  only  in
respect of matters relatable to any of the entries  enumerated  in  List  II
and List III in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution: Provided  that  if
any such matter is already being inquired into  by  the  Commission  or  any
other Commission duly constituted under  any  law  for  the  time  being  in
force, the  State  Commission  shall  not  inquire  into  the  said  matter:
Provided further that in relation to the  Jammu  and  Kashmir  Human  Rights
Commission, this sub-section shall have effect  as  if  for  the  words  and
figures “List II and List III in the Seventh Schedule to the  Constitution”,
the words and figures “List III in the Seventh Schedule to the  Constitution
as applicable to the State of Jammu and Kashmir and in  respect  of  matters
in relation to which the Legislature of that State has power to  make  laws”
had been substituted.
(6) Two or more State Governments may, with the consent of a Chairperson  or
Member of a State Commission, appoint such Chairperson or, as the  case  may
be,  such  Member  of  another  State  Commission  simultaneously  if   such
Chairperson or Member consents to  such  appointment:  Provided  that  every
appointment made under this sub-section shall be made  offer  obtaining  the
recommendations of the committee referred to in sub-section (1)  of  section
22 in respect of the state for which a common chairman or member,  or  both,
the case may be, is to be appointed.”

9.    A plain reading of the above would show that the Parliament  has  used
the word ‘may’ in sub-Section (1) while providing for the  setting-up  of  a
State Human Rights Commission. In contrast the Parliament has used the  word
‘shall’ in sub-Section (3) while providing for constitution  of  a  National
Commission. The argument on behalf of the defaulting States, therefore,  was
that the use of two different expressions which dealing with the subject  of
analogous nature is a clear indication that while a  National  Human  Rights
Commission is mandatory a State Commission  is  not.  That  argument  is  no
doubt attractive, but does not stand close scrutiny. The use of  word  ‘may’
is not by itself determinative of the  true  nature  of  the  power  or  the
obligation conferred or created under a provision.  The  legal  position  on
the subject is fairly well settled by a  long  line  of  decisions  of  this
Court.  The stated position is that the use of word ‘may’  does  not  always
mean that the authority upon which the  power  is  vested  may  or  may  not
exercise that power. Whether or not the word ‘may’ should  be  construed  as
mandatory and equivalent to the word ‘shall’ would depend  upon  the  object
and the purpose of the enactment under which the said power is conferred  as
also related provisions made in the  enactment.  The  word  ‘may’  has  been
often read as ‘shall’ or ‘must’ when there is something  in  the  nature  of
the thing to be done which must compel such a reading. In other  words,  the
conferment of the power upon the authority may having regard to the  context
in which such power has been conferred and the purpose of its conferment  as
also the circumstances in which it is meant to be exercised carry with  such
power an obligation which compels its exercise. The locus classicus  on  the
subject is found in Julius v. Bishop of  Oxford[12]  where  Justice  Cairns,
L.C. observed:
“…The words  ‘it shall be lawful’ are not equivocal.   They  are  plain  and
unambiguous.  They are words merely making that  legal  and  possible  which
there would otherwise be no  right  or  authority  to  do.   They  confer  a
faculty or power, and they do not  of  themselves  do  more  than  confer  a
faculty or power.  But there may be something in the  nature  of  the  thing
empowered to be done, something in the object for which it is  to  be  done,
something in the conditions under which it is to be done, something  in  the
title of the person or  persons  for  whose  benefit  the  power  is  to  be
exercised, which may couple the power with a duty, and make it the  duty  of
the person in whom the power is reposed, to exercise that power when  called
upon to do so. …”

Lord Blackburn in the same case observed:
“I do not think the words “it shall be lawful” are in  themselves  ambiguous
at all.  They are apt words to express that a power is given; and as,  prima
facie, the donee of a power may either exercise it or leave  it  unused,  it
is not inaccurate to say that, prima facie, they are  equivalent  to  saying
that the donee may do  it;  but  if  the  object  for  which  the  power  is
conferred is for the purpose of enforcing a right, there may be a duty  cast
on the donee of the power, to exercise it for the benefit of those who  have
that right, when required on their behalf….”


10.   A long line of decisions of this Court  starting  with  Sardar  Govind
Rao and Ors. v. State of Madhya Pradesh[13] have followed the above line  of
reasoning and authoritatively held  that  the  use  of  the  word  ‘may’  or
‘shall’ by themselves do not necessarily suggest that one is  directory  and
the other mandatory, but, the context in which  the  said  expressions  have
been used as also the scheme and  the  purpose  underlying  the  legislation
will determine whether the legislative intent really was  to  simply  confer
the power or such conferment was accompanied by the  duty  to  exercise  the
same. In The Official Liquidator  v. Dharti Dhan Pvt.  Ltd.[14]  this  Court
summed up the legal position thus :

“In fact it is quite  accurate  to  say  that  the  word  "may"  by  itself,
acquires the meaning' of "must" or "shall"  sometimes.  This  word  however,
always signifies a conferment of power. That power  may,  having  regard  to
the context in which it occurs, and the requirements  contemplated  for  its
exercise, have annexed to it an obligation which compels its exercise  in  a
certain way  on  facts  and  circumstances  from  which  the  obligation  to
exercise it in that way arises. In other words, it is the context which  can
attach the obligation to the power compel- ling its exercise  in  a  certain
way. The context, both legal and factual,  may  impart  to  the  power  that
obligatoriness. Thus, the question to be determined  in  such  cases  always
is, whether the power conferred by the use of the word  "may"  has,  annexed
to it, an obligation that, on the fulfilment of certain  legally  prescribed
conditions, to be shown by evidence, a particular  kind  of  order  must  be
made. If the statute leaves no room for  discretion  the  power  has  to  be
exercised in the manner  indicated  by  the  other  legal  provisions  which
provide the legal context. Even then  the  facts  must  establish  that  the
legal conditions are fulfilled: A power is exercised  even  when  the  Court
rejects an application to exercise it in the particular  way  in  which  the
applicant desires it to be exercised. Where the  power  is  wide  enough  to
cover both an acceptance and a refusal of an application for  its  exercise,
depending upon facts, it is  directory  or  discretionary.  It  is  not  the
conferment of a power which  the  word  "may"  indicates  that  annexes  any
obligation to its exercise but the legal and factual context of it.”

11.   So also, this Court in ND  Jayal  and  Anr.  v.  Union  of  India  and
Ors.[15] interpreted the provisions of  the  Environmental  Protection  Act,
1986 to mean that the  power  conferred  under  the  Act  was  not  a  power
simpliciter, but, was power  coupled  with  duty.  Unless  the  Act  was  so
interpreted sustainable development and protection of life under Article  21
was not possible observed the Court. In  Manushkhlal  Vithaldas  Chauhan  v.
State of Gujarat[16] this Court held that  the  scheme  of  the  statute  is
determinative of the nature of duty or power conferred  upon  the  authority
while determining whether such power is obligatory, mandatory  or  directory
and that even if that duty is not set out clearly and  specifically  in  the
stature, it may be  implied  as  correlative  to  a  right.  Numerous  other
pronouncements of this Court  have  similarly  addressed  and  answered  the
issue. It is unnecessary to refer to  all  those  decisions  for  we  remain
content with reference to the decision of this Court in  Bachahan  Devi  and
Anr. v. Nagar Nigam, Gorakhpur  and  Anr.[17]  in  which  the  position  was
succinctly summarized as under:

“18. It is well settled that the use of word `may' in a statutory  provision
would not by itself show that the provision is directory in nature. In  some
cases, the  legislature  may  use  the  word  `may'  as  a  matter  of  pure
conventional  courtesy  and  yet  intend  a  mandatory  force.   In   order,
therefore, to interpret the legal import of the word `may',  the  court  has
to consider various factors, namely, the object and the scheme of  the  Act,
the context and the background against which the words have been  used,  the
purpose and the advantages sought to be achieved by the use  of  this  word,
and the like. It is equally well-settled that where the word `may'  involves
a discretion coupled with an obligation  or  where  it  confers  a  positive
benefit to a general class of subjects in a utility Act, or where the  court
advances a remedy and suppresses the mischief, or  where  giving  the  words
directory significance would defeat the very object of  the  Act,  the  word
`may' should be interpreted to convey a mandatory force. As a general  rule,
the word  `may'  is  permissive  and  operative  to  confer  discretion  and
especially so, where it is used in juxtaposition to the word 'shall',  which
ordinarily is imperative as it  imposes  a  duty.  Cases  however,  are  not
wanting where the words `may' `shall', and `must' are used  interchangeably.
In order to find out whether these words are being used in  a  directory  or
in a mandatory sense, the intent of the legislature should  be  looked  into
along  with  the  pertinent  circumstances.  The  distinction  of  mandatory
compliance or directory effect of the language  depends  upon  the  language
couched in the statute under  consideration  and  its  object,  purpose  and
effect. The distinction reflected in the use of the word  `shall'  or  `may'
depends on conferment of power. Depending upon the context, 'may'  does  not
always mean may. 'May' is a must for enabling compliance  of  provision  but
there are cases in which, for various reasons, as soon as a  person  who  is
within the statute is entrusted with the  power,  it  becomes  his  duty  to
exercise that power. Where the language  of  statute  creates  a  duty,  the
special remedy is prescribed for non-performance of the duty.

20. If it appears to be the settled intention of the legislature  to  convey
the sense of compulsion, as where an obligation is created, the use  of  the
word 'may' will  not  prevent  the  court  from  giving  it  the  effect  of
Compulsion or obligation. Where the statute  was  passed  purely  in  public
interest  and  that  rights  of  private  citizens  have  been  considerably
modified and curtailed in the interests of the  general  development  of  an
area or in the interests or removal of slums and  unsanitary  areas.  Though
the power is conferred upon the statutory body by the use of the word  'may'
that power must be construed as a statutory duty.  Conversely,  the  use  of
the term 'shall' may indicate the  use  in  optional  or  permissive  sense.
Although in general sense 'may' is enabling or discretional and  `shall'  is
obligatory, the connotation  is  not  inelastic  and  inviolate."  Where  to
interpret the word `may' as directory would render the very  object  of  the
Act as nugatory, the word 'may' must mean 'shall'.

21. The ultimate rule in construing auxiliary verbs like `may'  and  `shall'
is to discover the legislative intent;  and  the  use  of  words  `may'  and
'shall' is not decisive of its discretion or mandates. The use of the  words
`may' and `shall' may  help  the  courts  in  ascertaining  the  legislative
intent without giving to either a controlling  or  a  determinating  effect.
The courts have further to consider the subject matter, the purpose  of  the
provisions, the object intended to be secured by the  statute  which  is  of
prime importance, as also the actual words employed.”

                                          (emphasis supplied)

12.   The above decision also dispels the impression that if the  Parliament
has used the words “may” and “shall” at the places in  the  same  provision,
it means that the intention was to make a distinction in as much as one  was
intended to be discretionary while the  other  mandatory.  This  is  obvious
from the following passage where this Court declared that even when the  two
words are used in the same provision the Court’s power to discover the  true
intention of the legislature remains unaffected:

“22. …..Obviously where the legislature uses two words may and shall in  two
different parts of the same provision prima facie it would appear  that  the
legislature manifested its intent on to make one part directory and  another
mandatory. But that by itself is not decisive. The power of  court  to  find
out whether the provision is directory or mandatory remains unimpaired.”

13.   When we examine the scheme of the legislation and  the  provisions  of
Section 21 (supra) in the light  of  the  above  principles,  the  following
broad features emerge prominently:
that the Act is aimed at providing an efficacious and transparent  mechanism
for prevention of violation of human rights both at national level  as  also
at the state level;
that the National Human Rights Commission is  vested  with  the  powers  and
functions set out in Chapter-III of comprising Sections  12  to  16  of  the
Protection of Human Rights Act, 1963.  While  in  relation  to  State  Human
Rights Commissions similar provisions of Sections 9, 10, 10, 12, 13, 14,  15
to 18 apply mutatis mutandis subject to certain  modifications  referred  to
in clauses (a) to (d) of the said provision. This  implies  that  he  powers
exercisable by the State Commissions under  the  said  provisions  are  pari
materia  with  the  powers  exercisable  by  the   National   Human   Rights
Commission.
(iii) that while Section 3 does use the word  ‘shall’  in  relation  to  the
constitution of a  National  Human  Rights  Commission,  the  absence  of  a
similar expression in Section and the use of the word ‘may’ as  observed  by
this Court in Bachahan Devi (supra) case  makes  little  difference  as  the
scheme of the Act and the true intention underlying the  legislation  is  to
be determined by the Court depending upon  whether  the  power  was  coupled
with a duty to exercise the same or was conferment of power simpliciter.

14.   Time now to refer to certain other provisions of the Act. In terms  of
Section 13(6) of the Act, the  National  Commission  is  empowered  whenever
considered necessary or expedient so to do, to transfer any complaint  filed
or pending before it to the State Commission of the  State  from  which  the
complaint arises for disposal in accordance with the provisions of the  Act,
subject to the condition that the complaint  is  one  respecting  which  the
State Commission has jurisdiction to entertain the same. Upon such  transfer
the State Commission is competent to dispose of the matter as  if  complaint
was initially filed before it.    The power of the State Commission,  it  is
noteworthy, is confined to matters enumerated in  List-II  and  List-III  of
the Constitution in terms of Section 21 sub-Section (5)  extracted  earlier.
Significantly, Section 12 applicable to State Commissions also provides  for
not only inquiries into complaints of violation of human rights or  abetment
thereof and negligence in the prevention of  such  violation,  by  a  public
servant but also matters enumerated in clauses (a)  to  (g).  the  provision
enjoins upon the State  Commissions  the  task  of  spreading  human  rights
literacy among various sections  of  the  society  and  promoting  awareness
about the safeguards available for the protection of  those  rights  through
publications in the media,  seminars  and  other  available  means;  and  to
encourage the efforts of  non-governmental  organizations  and  institutions
working in the field  of  human  rights;  and  to  perform  all  such  other
functions as may be considered necessary for the promotion of human  rights.
All these functions are critical for the promotion and protection  of  human
rights at the State level. The  essence  of  a  statutory  Commission  will,
therefore, have the effect of negating the  legislative  intent  that  human
rights need to be promoted  and  protected  against  violations.  The  State
Governments cannot frustrate the  objects  underlying  the  legislation  but
pleading that the legislative measure  notwithstanding  they  can  in  their
discretion  keep  the  setting-up  of  the  Commissions  at  bay.  Any  such
contention will be destructive of the scheme of the Act and the promise  the
law contains for the protection of the rights of the people.

15.   The upshot of the  above  discussion  that  the  power  of  the  State
Governments under Section 21 to set-up  State  Human  Rights  Commission  in
their respective areas/territories is not a power simpliciter  but  a  power
coupled with the duty to exercise such power especially when it is  not  the
case of anyone of the defaulting States that there is no violation of  human
rights in  their  territorial  limits.   The  fact  that  Delhi  has  itself
reported the second largest number of cases  involving  human  rights  cases
would belie any such claim even if it were made. So  also,  it  is  not  the
case of the North-Eastern States where such Commissions have not  been  set-
up that there are no violations of Human Rights in those States.   The  fact
that most if not all the States are affected by ethnic  and  other  violence
and extremist activities calling for curbs affecting the  people  living  in
those areas resulting, at times, in the violation of their rights cannot  be
disputed.  Such occurrence of violence and the state of  affairs  prevailing
in  most  of  the  States  cannot  support  the  contention  that  no   such
commissions are required in those  States  as  there  are  no  human  rights
violations of any kind whatsoever.

16.   There is another angle from  which  the  matter  may  be  viewed.   It
touches the right of the affected citizens to    “access  justice”  and  the
denial of such access by reason of non-setting up  of  the  Commissions.  In
Imtiyaz Ahmad  v.  State of  Uttar  Pradesh  and  Ors.[18]  this  Court  has
declared that access to justice is  a  fundamental  right  guaranteed  under
Article 21 of the Constitution. This Court observed:

“25….A person's access to justice is a guaranteed  fundamental  right  under
the  Constitution  and  particularly  Article  21.  Denial  of  this   right
undermines  public  confidence  in   the   justice   delivery   system   and
incentivises people to look for short-cuts and other fora  where  they  feel
that justice will be done quicker. In the long run, this  also  weakens  the
justice delivery system and poses a threat to Rule of Law.


26. It may not be out of place to highlight that access to justice must  not
be understood in a purely quantitative dimension. Access to  justice  in  an
egalitarian democracy must be   understood to  mean  qualitative  access  to
justice as well. Access to justice is, therefore, much more  than  improving
an individual's access to courts, or guaranteeing  representation.  It  must
be defined in terms of ensuring that legal and judicial  outcomes  are  just
and equitable (See United Nations Development Programme, Access  to  Justice
- Practice Note (2004)].”


17.   Human rights violations in the States that are far  removed  from  the
NHRC headquarters in Delhi itself makes access to justice for  victims  from
those states an illusion. While theoretically  it  is  possible  that  those
affected by violation of human rights can approach the NHRC by addressing  a
complaint to the NHRC for redressal, it does not necessarily mean that  such
access to justice for redressal of human rights violation is convenient  for
the victims from  the  states  unless  the  States  have  set-up  their  own
Commissions that would look into such complaints and grant relief.  We  need
to remember that access to justice so much depends upon the ability  of  the
victim to pursue his or her grievance before the forum  competent  to  grant
relief. North-Eastern parts of the  country  are  mostly  inhabited  by  the
tribals. Such regions cannot be deprived of  the  beneficial  provisions  of
the  Act  simply  because  the  States  are  small  and  the  setting-up  of
commissions in those states would mean financial burden for  the  exchequer.
Even otherwise there is no real basis  for  the  contention  that  financial
constrains prevent these States from setting-up their  own  Commissions.  At
any rate, the provisions of Section 21(6) clearly provide for  two  or  more
State Governments  setting–up  Commissions  with  a  common  Chairperson  or
Member.  Such appointments may be possible with the consent  of  Chairperson
or Member concerned but it is nobody’s case that any  attempt  had  in  that
direction been made but the same  had  failed  on  account  of  the  persons
concerned not agreeing to take up the  responsibility  vis-a-vis  the  other
State. Even the NHRC had in its Annual Report (1996-1997) suggested that  if
financial constraint was really one of the reasons  for  not  setting-up  of
Commission  in  the  North-Eastern  Regions,  the  State  Governments  could
consider setting-up such commissions by resorting to  Section  21(6),  which
permits  two  States  having  the  same  Chairperson  or   Members   thereby
considerably  reducing  the  expenses   on   the   establishment   of   such
Commissions.

18.   Reference in this connection may be made  to  the  recommendations  of
the NHRC published in its Annual Report for the  year  2004-2005  where  the
commission observed:

“16.1 State Human Rights Commissions have been set up in  151  States  viz.,
the States of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Himachal  Pradesh,  Jammu
& Kashmir, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh,  Maharashtra,  Manipur,  Orissa,  Punjab,
Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The  Commission  would
like to reiterate its view that the ‘better protection of human rights’  can
be ensured if all the States set up Human Rights Commission. The  Commission
also emphasizes that the State Human Rights Commission  which  have  already
been set up or are proposed to be set up should be in  compliance  with  the
‘Paris Principles’.

16.2 The Commission, on its part, has endeavoured to assist  and  guide  the
State Commissions in whatever manner possible, whenever  requests  for  such
assistance or guidance has been  sought.  The  strengthening  of  the  State
Commissions, is an important agenda in  the  Commission’s  activities.  With
this in view, the  Commission  has  taken  the  initiative  to  have  annual
interactions with all the  State  Human  Rights  Commissions,  where  mutual
discussions take place.

16.3 The first such annual meeting was held on  the  30-01-2004,  where  the
agenda included coordination and sharing of information  between  the  SHRCs
and the Commission;  training,  awareness  building  and  substantive  human
rights issues.  Taking  forward  the  initiative,  the  second  meeting  was
convened on the  13-05-2005.  Apart  from  the  various  issues  of  concern
discussed in the meeting, the meeting concluded with  the  adoption  of  the
following Resolution:-

“The  National  Human  Rights  Commission  and  the   State   Human   Rights
Commissions  present  hereby  unanimously  resolve   to   urge   the   State
Governments to:-

Setup, on priority, State Human Rights Commissions where  the  same  do  not
exist.

b) Where, there are State Human Rights Commissions or, are  in  the  process
of being setup, it be ensured that they  are  structurally  and  financially
independent as  envisaged  in  and,  fully  confirming  to,  the  principles
relating to the status of national  institutions  (the  “Paris  Principles’)
which were endorsed by the UN General Assembly Resolution 48/134  of  20-12-
1993.

The  National  and  State  Commissions  also  reiterate   and   remind   the
Governments, both, at the  Centre  and  in  the  States,  that  the  primary
obligation towards the protection of human rights is that of the  State  and
that the national human rights institutions are for  ‘better  protection  of
human rights’.

16.4  The  Commission  places  great  importance   to   these   interactions
especially keeping in view the social,  cultural  and  linguistic  diversity
that comprises  our  society.  Institutionalizing  the  mechanism  of  these
annual interactions is one way the Commission hopes to keep up  the  process
of dialogue. It is  thus,  all  the  more  important  that  all  the  states
expeditiously set up human rights Commissions.”
                                             (emphasis supplied)
19.   A similar recommendation was made in the Annual Report  for  the  year
2009-2010 of NHRC. It said:
“10.1   Section 21 of the PHRA,  1993  as  amended  in  2006,  provides  for
constitution of State Human Rights Commissions (SHRCs) in  all  the  States.
The existence and functioning of a Human  Rights  Commission  in  the  State
goes a long way in the ‘better’ protection and promotion  of  human  rights.
It is now an accepted fact that good governance and human rights go hand  in
hand. The SHRCs have been set-up in 18 States.  The names  of  these  States
are:  Andhra  Pradesh,   Assam,  Bihar,  Chhattisgarh,   Gujarat,   Himachal
Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala,  Madhya  Pradesh,  Maharashtra,
Manipur, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan,  Tamil  Nadu,  Uttar  Pradesh  and  West
Bengal….

10.2   The NHRC is keen that SHRCs are set-up in  all  the  States  so  that
each  and  every  citizen  of  the  country  has  easy  recourse  to  better
protection of ’human rights’ as well as for matters connected  therewith  or
incidental thereto.   The  Commission  earnestly  recommends  to  all  those
States which have not yet constituted SHRCs to follow suit at  the  earliest
in the interest of better protection and promotion of human rights. …”
                                (emphasis supplied)
20.   Yet again, the same has been reiterated in the Annual Report  for  the
year 2010-2011 of NHRC in the following words:
“15.1 Section 21 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 as  amended  in
2006, stipulates constitution of State Human Rights Commissions  (SHRCs)  in
all the States. The creation of a Human Rights Commission in all the  States
would definitely facilitate in `better’ protection and  promotion  of  human
rights. It is now an accepted proposition that  good  governance  and  human
rights go hand in hand. During the period under report, SHRCs  were  set  up
in two States, namely, Jharkhand and Sikkim, thus taking the  overall  total
of SHRCs in the country to 20. Eighteen States which already  have  an  SHRC
are Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat,  Himachal  Pradesh,
Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya  Pradesh,  Maharashtra,  Manipur,
Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh  and  West  Bengal.  At
present, there is no Chairperson and Members in the Himachal  Pradesh  State
Human Rights Commission except for a Secretary.

15.2 NHRC is keen that SHRCs are set up in every State  of  the  country  so
that its inhabitants have easy access to better protection of  human  rights
and justice. The Commission once again makes an earnest appeal to all  those
States which have not yet constituted SHRCs to take action at  the  earliest
in the interest of better protection  and  promotion  of  human  rights.  In
addition, the Commission is  in  constant  touch  with  all  the  SHRCs  and
renders technical support to them as and when required by them.”
                                  (emphasis supplied)
21.   It is a matter of  regret  that  despite  the  National  Human  Rights
Commission itself strongly and repeatedly recommending setting-up  of  State
Commission in the States the same have not been set-up. Keeping in view  the
totality  of  the  circumstances,  therefore,  we  see  no  reason  why  the
recommendation made by the Amicus for a direction to the  States  of  Delhi,
Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland  should  not  be
issued  to  set-up  State  Human  Rights  Commission  in  their   respective
territories.

22.   The other recommendation which the  Amicus  has  noted  for  issue  of
suitable directions relates to the filling-up of vacancy of Chairperson  and
Members in several State Human Rights Commissions.  The  Amicus  points  out
that in the States of Manipur and Himachal Pradesh SHRC  is  not  functional
since post of Chairperson and several  Members  remains  unfilled.   In  the
State of Jammu and Kashmir, the  post  of  Chairperson  and  one  Member  is
vacant. In the State of Jharkhand, the Chairperson is in  position  but  the
post of sole Member is vacant.  So also,  in  the  State  of  Karnataka  two
Members in the Commission are working while the post of Chairperson and  one
member remains vacant.  Even  in  the  State  of  Tamil  Nadu  the  post  of
Chairperson remains vacant.  The Amicus states that similar is the  position
in several other States also which means that although States  have  set  up
SHRC, the same are  dysfunctional  on  account  of  non  filling-up  of  the
vacancies on account of administrative apathy and lethargy.  It  was  argued
by the Amicus that dysfunctional SHRCs are as good as there  being  no  such
Commissions at all thereby defeating the very  purpose  underlying  the  Act
and calling for a direction from this Court to the States concerned to  fill
up the existing vacancies immediately and also to ensure that no vacancy  in
the SHRC  whether  against  the  post  of  Chairperson  or  Members  remains
unfilled for more than three months.
23.   There is, in our opinion, considerable merit in  the  submission  made
by the Amicus that the very purpose of setting up of the State Human  Rights
Commission gets defeated if vacancies that occur from time to time  are  not
promptly filled up and the Commission kept functional at all  times.   There
is hardly any explanation much less a cogent one  for  the  failure  of  the
State to take immediate steps for filling-up of the vacancies wherever  they
have occurred. The inaction or bureaucratic indifference or  even  the  lack
of political will  cannot  frustrate  the  laudable  object  underlying  the
Parliamentary legislation. With the number of  complaints  regarding  breach
of human rights increasing everyday even in cities like Delhi which  is  the
power centre and throbbing capital of the county, there is  no  question  of
statutory Commissions being made irrelevant or dysfunctional for any  reason
whatsoever. The power available to the Government to fill up  the  vacancies
wherever they exist is, as noticed earlier, coupled with the  duty  to  fill
up such vacancies.  The States  ought  to  realise  that  the  Human  Rights
Commission  set  up  by  them  are  not  some  kind  of  idle  formality  or
dispensable ritual.  The Commissions are meant to  be  watch  dogs  for  the
protection of the human rights of the  citizens  and  effective  instruments
for redressal of grievances and grant of relief wherever  necessary.  Denial
of access to the mechanism conceptualised under the Act  by  reason  of  non
filling up of the vacancies directly affects the rights of the citizens  and
becomes non functional.  It is in that  spirit  that  we  deem  it  fit  and
proper to direct that all vacancies against  the  post  of  Chairperson  and
Members of the State Human Rights Commission  shall  be  filled  up  by  the
concerned State Governments as expeditiously as possible but, in  any  case,
within a period of three months from the date of this order.  We  only  hope
and trust that we shall be spared the unpleasant task of  initiating  action
against the defaulting State in case the needful  is  not  done  within  the
time allotted. We also recommend to the State  Governments  that  since  the
dates on which vacancies are scheduled to occur are known well  in  advance,
(save and except  where  an  incumbent  dies  in  office)  the  process  for
appointment of the incumbents against such  vacancies  should  be  initiated
well in time in future so that no post remains vacant  in  any  State  Human
Rights Commission for a period or unfilled for  any  period  for  more  than
three months from the date the vacancy arises.
24.   That brings us to the third recommendation that Amicus has  formulated
concerning the constitution of Human Rights Court in different districts  in
terms of Section 30 of The Protection of Human Rights  Act,  1993.   Section
30 of the Act provides that the State  Government  shall  specify  with  the
concurrence of the Chief Justice of the High  Court,  for  each  district  a
Court of Session to be a Human Rights Court so  that  the  offences  arising
out of violation of human rights are tried and disposed of speedily. It  was
submitted that while  the  State  of  Sikkim  has  complied  with  the  said
provision, other States are silent in that regard. It was urged  that  if  a
small State like Sikkim could comply  with  the  requirement  of  specifying
Sessions Courts to be Human Rights Court, there  was  no  reason  why  other
States cannot follow suit. There is considerable merit in  that  submission.
Section 30 of  the  Act  stipulates  that  for  providing  speedy  trial  of
offences arising out of violation of human  rights,  the  State  Government,
may with the concurrence  of  the  Chief  Justice  of  the  High  Court,  by
notification, specify for each district a Court of Session  to  be  a  Human
Rights Court provided that if a Court of Session is already specified  as  a
special Court or a special Court is already constituted  for  such  offences
under any other law for the time being in force, no such specification of  a
Court would be necessary.
25.   There is, in our opinion, no reason why the State  Governments  should
not seriously consider the question of specifying human rights Court to  try
offences arising out of violation of human  rights.   There  is  nothing  on
record to suggest that the Governments have at all made any attempt in  this
direction or taken steps to consult the Chief  Justices  of  the  respective
High Courts. The least which the State Governments can and ought  to  do  is
to take up the matter with the  Chief  Justices  of  High  Courts  of  their
respective States and examine the feasibility  of  specifying  Human  Rights
Court in each district within the contemplation of Section 30  of  the  Act.
Beyond that we do not propose to say anything at this stage.
26.   There are, apart from the above, few  other  recommendations  made  by
the Amicus like installation of CCTV Cameras  in  all  Police  Stations  and
prisons in a phased manner, and  appointment  of  non-official  visitors  to
prisons and police stations for  making  random  and  surprise  inspections.
Initiation of human proceedings Under  Section  302/304  IPC  in  each  case
where the enquiry establishes culpability in custodial death and framing  of
uniform definition of custodial death and mandatory  deployment  of  atleast
two women constables in each district are also recommended by the Amicus.
27.   As regards  installation  of  CCTV  cameras  in  police  stations  and
prisons, with a view to checking human rights abuse,  it  is  heartening  to
note  that  all  the  States  have  in  their   affidavits   supported   the
recommendation for installation of  CCTV  cameras  in  Police  Stations  and
prisons. In some of the States, steps appear to have already been  initiated
in that direction. In the State of Bihar, CCTV cameras in  all  prisons  and
in 44 police stations in the State have already been installed. So also  the
State of Tamil Nadu plans to equip all police stations  with  CCTV  cameras.
State of Haryana has stated that CCTV cameras should  be  installed  in  all
police stations, especially, at the entrance  and  in  the  lockups.   Union
Territories of Andaman & Nicobar and  Puducherry  has  also  installed  CCTV
cameras in most of the police stations. Some other States also appear to  be
taking steps to do so. Some of the States  have,  however,  remained  silent
and non-committal on the issue. We  do  not  for  the  present  consider  it
necessary to issue a direction for  installation  of  CCTV  cameras  in  all
police stations. We are of the opinion that the matter cannot be left to  be
considered by the State Governments concerned, having  regard  to  the  fact
that several other State Governments  have  already  taken  action  in  that
direction which we consider is commendable. All that we  need  say  is  that
the State Governments may consider taking an appropriate  decision  in  this
regard, and  appropriate  action  wherever  it  is  considered  feasible  to
install CCTV cameras in police stations. Some of these police  stations  may
be located in sensitive areas prone to human rights  violation.  The  States
would, therefore, do well in identifying such police stations in  the  first
instance and providing the necessary safeguard  against  such  violation  by
installing CCTV camera in the same.  The  process  can  be  completed  in  a
phased manner depending upon the nature and the extent of violation and  the
experience of the past.
28.   In regard to CCTV cameras in prison, we see  no  reason  why  all  the
States should not  do  so.   CCTV  cameras  will  help  go  a  long  way  in
preventing violation of human rights of those  incarcerating  in  jails.  It
will also help the authorities in maintaining proper  discipline  among  the
inmates and taking corrective measures wherever  abuses  are  noticed.  This
can be done in our opinion expeditiously and as far  as  possible  within  a
period of one year from the date of this order.
29.   That leaves us  with  the  appointment  of  non-official  visitors  to
prisons and police stations for making random  and  surprise  inspection  to
check violation of human rights.  The  Amicus  points  out  that  there  are
provisions in the Prison Manual providing for  appointment  of  non-official
visitors to prisons in the  State.   These  appointments  are  made  on  the
recommendations of the Magistrate of the District in  which  the  prison  is
situated.  He urged that the provisions being salutary ought to  be  invoked
by the Governments concerned and non-official visitors to prisons in  police
stations nominated including independent  persons  like  journalist.   There
is, in our opinion, no real harm or danger in  appointment  of  non-official
visitors to prisons and police stations provided the  visitors  who  are  so
appointed do not interfere with the  ongoing  investigations  if  any.   All
that we need say is that the State Governments may take  appropriate  action
in this regard keeping in view the provisions of the Prison Manuals and  the
Police Acts and the Rules applicable to each State.
30.    That  leaves  us  with  the  question  of  initiation   of   criminal
proceedings in cases where  enquiry  establishes  culpability  in  custodial
deaths and for deployment of atleast two women constables in each  district.
 We see no reason why appropriate proceedings cannot be initiated  in  cases
where enquiry establishes culpability of those in  whose  custody  a  victim
dies or suffers any injuries or torture.  The law  should  take  its  course
and those responsible duly and appropriately proceeded against.
31.   As regards deployment of women constables all  that  we  need  say  is
that the States concerned would consider the desirability of  posting  women
constables in the police stations wherever it is found that  over  a  period
of past two years women were detained in connection with any  criminal  case
or investigation. Needless to say that in case women constables  are  needed
in such police stations for interrogation  or  detention,  the  State  shall
provide  such  infrastructural  facilities  for  such  constables   as   are
required.
To sum up:
1.    The States of Delhi, Himachal  Pradesh,  Mizoram,  Arunachal  Pradesh,
Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland shall within a period  of  six  months  from
today  set  up  State  Human  Rights  Commissions   for   their   respective
territories with or without resort to provisions of  Section  21(6)  of  the
Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
2.    All vacancies, for the post of  Chairperson  or  the  Member  of  SHRC
wherever they exist at present shall be filled up by the  State  Governments
concerned within a period of three months from today.
3.    Vacancies occurring against the post of Chairperson or the Members  of
the SHRC in future shall be filled up as expeditiously as possible  but  not
later than three months from the date such vacancy occurs.
4.    The State Governments  shall  take  appropriate  action  in  terms  of
Section 30 of the Protection  of  Human  Rights  Act,  1993,  in  regard  to
setting up/specifying Human Rights Courts.
5.    The State Governments shall take steps to install CCTV cameras in  all
the prisons in their respective States, within a period  of  one  year  from
today but not later than two years.
6.    The  State  Governments  shall  also  consider  installation  of  CCTV
cameras in police stations in a phased manner depending upon  the  incidents
of human rights violation reported in such stations.
7.    The State  Governments  shall  consider  appointment  of  non-official
visitors to prisons and police stations in terms of the relevant  provisions
of the Act wherever they exist in the Jail Manuals  or  the  relevant  Rules
and Regulations.
8.    The State Governments shall launch  in  all  cases  where  an  enquiry
establishes culpability of the persons  in  whose  custody  the  victim  has
suffered death or injury, an appropriate prosecution for the  commission  of
offences  disclosed  by  such  enquiry  report   and/or   investigation   in
accordance with law.
9.    The State Governments shall consider deployment of at least two  women
constables in each police station wherever  such  deployment  is  considered
necessary  having  regard  to  the  number  of  women  taken  for  custodial
interrogation or interrogation for other purposes over the past two years.
32.   These petitions are, with the above directions, disposed of.   Liberty
is,  however,  reserved  to  the  petitioner  to  seek  revival   of   these
proceedings should there be any cogent reason for such revival at  any  time
in future. No costs.

                                                        ………………………………….…..…J.
                                                               (T.S. THAKUR)





                                                        ………………………………….…..…J.
                                                              (R. BANUMATHI)
New Delhi;
24th July, 2015.

ITEM NO.1F-For Judgment    COURT NO.2               SECTION PIL(W)

               S U P R E M E  C O U R T  O F  I N D I A
                       RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS

Crl.M.P. Nos.  16086/1997  in  Crl.M.P.  No.  4201/1997  with  Crl.M.P.  No.
4201/1997, 4105/1999,  2600/2000,  2601/2000,  480/2001,  3965,  10385/2002,
12704/2001, 19694/2010 in Crl.M.P. No. 4201/1997,  Crl.M.P.  No.  13566/2011
in  Crl.M.P.  No.  16086/1997  in  Crl.M.P.  No.  4201/1997,  Crl.M.P.   No.
15490/2014 in Writ Petition(s)(Criminal)  No(s).  539/1986

SHRI DILIP K. BASU                                 Petitioner(s)

                                VERSUS

STATE OF WEST BENGAL & ORS.                        Respondent(s)

Date : 24/07/2015 These petitions were called on for pronouncement of
JUDGMENT today.

For Petitioner(s)
                     Ms. Suruchii Aggarwal,Adv.

For Respondent(s)
                     Mr. Ravi Prakash Mehrotra,Adv.
                     Mr. Anip Sachthey,Adv.
                     Mr. Anil K. Jha,Adv.
                     Mr. B. Krishna Prasad,Adv.
                     Mr. G. Prakash,Adv.
                     Mr. Gopal Singh,Adv.
                        Mr. Rituraj Biswas, Adv.
                        Mr. Manish Kumar, Adv.

                     Mr. Guntur Prabhakar,Adv.
                     Ms. Indra Sawhney,Adv.
                     Mr. Naresh K. Sharma,Adv.

                        Dr. A.M. Singhvi, Sr. Adv.
                        Mr. Pranab Kumar Mullick, Adv.
                        Mr. Amit Bhandari, Adv.
                        Mrs. S. Mullick, Adv.
                        Mr. Sebat Kumar D., Adv.

                     Ms. Sushma Suri,Adv.
                     Mr. T. C. Sharma,Adv.
                     Mr. T. V. Ratnam,Adv.
                     Mr. Pravir Choudhary,Adv.
                     Mr. K. R. Sasiprabhu,Adv.
                     Mr. Shreekant N. Terdal,Adv.
                     Mr. D. S. Mahra,Adv.
                     Mr. Ranjan Mukherjee,Adv.
                     Mrs. D. Bharathi Reddy,Adv.
                     Mr. Khwairakpam Nobin Singh,Adv.
                     Ms. Asha Gopalan Nair,Adv.
                     Mr. Sanjay R. Hegde,Sr. Adv.
                     Mr. Gopal Prasad,Adv.
                     Mr. Javed Mahmud Rao,Adv.
                     Mr. Abhijit Sengupta,Adv.

                        Mr. Jayesh Gaurav, Adv.
                     Mr. Ratan Kumar Choudhuri,Adv.

                     Ms. Bina Madhavan,Adv.

                     For M/s Corporate Law Group
                     Mr. C. D. Singh,Adv.
                        Ms. Sakshi Kakkar, Adv.

                     Mr. Jatinder Kumar Bhatia,Adv.
                     Mr. P. V. Yogeswaran,Adv.
                     Mr. P. V. Dinesh,Adv.
                     Mr. Shibashish Misra,Adv.
                     Mr. Ansar Ahmad Chaudhary,Adv.
                     Mr. T. Harish Kumar,Adv.
                     Mr. Manish Kumar Saran,Adv.
                     Mr. Anuvrat Sharma,Adv.
                     Mr. Balaji Srinivasan,Adv.
                     Mr. Ajay Pal,Adv.

                        Mr. Suryanarayana Singh, Sr. AAG
                     Ms. Pragati Neekhra,Adv.

                     Mr. Gunnam Venkateswara Rao,Adv.
                     Ms. Ruchi Kohli,Adv.
                     Mr. Sunil Fernandes,Adv.
                        Mr. K.V. Jagdishvaran, Adv.
                     Ms. G. Indira,Adv.

                     Mr. M. Yogesh Kanna,Adv.
                        Mr. Jayant Patel, Adv.

                     Mr. Chandra Prakash,Adv.

                        Mr. Sapam Biswajit Meitei, Adv.
                        Mr. Z.H. Isaac Haiding, Adv.
                        Mr. Ashok Kumar Singh, Adv.

                        Mrs. K. Enatoli Sema, Adv.
                        Mr. Edward Belho, Adv.
                        Mr. Amit Kumar Singh, Adv.

                        Ms. A. Subhashini, Adv.

            Hon'ble Mr. Justice T.S. Thakur pronounced the judgment  of  the
Bench comprising His Lordship and Hon'ble Mrs. Justice R. Banumathi.
            The petitions are disposed of in terms of the Signed  Reportable
Judgment with following directions:

1.    The States of Delhi, Himachal  Pradesh,  Mizoram,  Arunachal  Pradesh,
Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland shall within a period  of  six  months  from
today  set  up  State  Human  Rights  Commissions   for   their   respective
territories with or without resort to provisions of  Section  21(6)  of  the
Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
2.    All vacancies, for the post of  Chairperson  or  the  Member  of  SHRC
wherever they exist at present shall be filled up by the  State  Governments
concerned within a period of three months from today.
3.    Vacancies occurring against the post of Chairperson or the Members  of
the SHRC in future shall be filled up as expeditiously as possible  but  not
later than three months from the date such vacancy occurs.
4.    The State Governments  shall  take  appropriate  action  in  terms  of
Section 30 of the Protection  of  Human  Rights  Act,  1993,  in  regard  to
setting up/specifying Human Rights Courts.
5.    The State Governments shall take steps to install CCTV cameras in  all
the prisons in their respective States, within a period  of  one  year  from
today but not later than two years.
6.    The  State  Governments  shall  also  consider  installation  of  CCTV
cameras in police stations in a phased manner depending upon  the  incidents
of human rights violation reported in such stations.
7.    The State  Governments  shall  consider  appointment  of  non-official
visitors to prisons and police stations in terms of the relevant  provisions
of the Act wherever they exist in the Jail Manuals  or  the  relevant  Rules
and Regulations.
8.    The State Governments shall launch  in  all  cases  where  an  enquiry
establishes culpability of the persons  in  whose  custody  the  victim  has
suffered death or injury, an appropriate prosecution for the  commission  of
offences  disclosed  by  such  enquiry  report   and/or   investigation   in
accordance with law.
9.    The State Governments shall consider deployment of at least two  women
constables in each police station wherever  such  deployment  is  considered
necessary  having  regard  to  the  number  of  women  taken  for  custodial
interrogation or interrogation for other purposes over the past two years.

            (VINOD KR.JHA)                        (VEENA KHERA)
            COURT MASTER                                COURT MASTER

               (Signed Reportable judgment is placed on the file)

-----------------------
[1]    (1997) 1 SCC 416
[2]    (1994) 4 SCC 260
[3]    (1993) 2 SCC 746
[4]    (1995) 4 SCC 262
[5]    (1997) 6 SCC 642
[6]    (1998) 9 SCC 437
[7]    (1998) 6 SCC 380
[8]    (2002) 10 SCC 741
[9]    (2003) 11 SCC 723
[10]   (2003) 11 SCC 725
[11]   (2003) 12 SCC 174
[12]   (1880) 5 AC 214
[13]   AIR 1965 SC 1222
[14]   (1977) 2 SCC 166
[15]   (2004) 9 SCC 362
[16]   (1997) 7 SCC 622
[17]   (2008) 12 SCC 372
[18]   (2012) 2 SCC 688

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