The Human Rights Commission has no unlimited jurisdiction, remarked the Kerala High Court while setting aside its order apparently in conflict with a High Court judgment.
A company, Malabar Cements Ltd., had challenged an order passed by the Kerala State Human Rights Commission directing it to appoint a person as Mazdoor in the company. The company contended that the same issue was a subject matter of a writ petition before the Kerala High Court and a judgment has been passed in that case.
The bench comprising Justice CK Abdul Rehim and Justice R. Narayana Pisharadi considered the issue whether the Commission can make any recommendation or direction which would have the effect of nullifying the spirit of a High Court judgment? Referring to statutory provisions and also earlier judgments in this regards, the bench observed:
The Commission is a statutory body created under the Act. It does not have any plenary or prerogative powers like the High Court. It exercises only statutory powers. The Commission is, no doubt, entrusted with the very important function of protecting human rights. But the Commission has no unlimited jurisdiction. It cannot exercise plenary powers in derogation of the statutory limitations. The Commission, which is the creature of a statute, is bound by its provisions. Its duties and functions are defined and circumscribed by the Act. The Commission should necessarily act within the parameters prescribed by the Act. The Commission is one of the fora which can redress grievances arising out of violations of human rights. It is to be remembered that, even if the Commission is not in a position to enquire into a complaint and to afford redressal on account of statutory fetters or handicaps, the aggrieved persons are not without other remedies.
The bench also noted that Clause (f) of Regulation 17 of Kerala State Human Rights Commission (Procedure) Regulations, 2001, specifically provides that, the Commission may dismiss in limine a complaint, if the issue raised relates to service matters. Since the issue in petition relates to appointment as a Mazdoor in the company and it is a service matter, the Commission should have dismissed the complaint in limine, the bench added.
Setting aside the order of the commission, the bench observed that the same totally ignored the judgment rendered by the High Court in the same matter between the same parties, and the same is in conflict with that judgment and therefore sustainable in law.
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