The Delhi High Court last week issued notice to Delhi Government in a plea seeking the establishment of Human Rights Court in each of the 11 District Courts of Delhi.
The Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli also directed the Delhi Government to respond to Petitioner's prayer seeking direction to Respondents to ensure one Independent Human Rights Prosecutor exclusively appointed to examine and process claims of human rights offences (in each of the 11 District Courts of Delhi).
The plea before the Court
The petitioner, Sarvadaman Singh Oberoi, who appeared in person, challenged two notifications dated 24th November 2020 and 14th June 2011 (for the purpose of establishment of Human Rights Courts as per Section 30 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993) issued by the order and in the name of the Lieutenant Governor of National Capital Territory of Delhi
It was argued by him that the LG of NCT of Delhi is not authorised to issue the said notifications under Section 30 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
It may be noted that Section 30 of the Protection of Human rights Act, 1993 mandates the states to specify for each district a Court of Session to be a Human Rights Court to try offences arising out of violation of human rights.
It was argued that the expression 'State Government' used in Section 30, in relation to NCT of Delhi, could only be the Central Government since the NCT of Delhi is a 'Union Territory' and not a 'State' within the meaning of the Constitution of India.
Relying on Articles 73(1)(b), 253, 51(c), 246 read with Entry 13 of List-1 of Schedule VII of the Constitution of India, he submitted that the power to issue the said notifications is vested in the President of India alone.
It may be noted that in November 2020, the Department of Law, Justice and Legislative Affairs of the Delhi Government had issued a notification to designate the court of Additional Sessions Judge-02 in each District in the National Capital Territory of Delhi as a Human Rights Court.
The notification states that, in pursuance of the powers conferred by Section 30 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, the Lieutenant Governor of NCT of Delhi, with the concurrence of the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court,
Finding no merit in this submission of the Petitioner, the Court said,
"The Protection of Human Rights Act is a Central Legislation for which the Parliament draws authority by virtue of Entry 13 of List I – Union List of the VII Schedule to the Constitution of India read with Article 246 of the Constitution of India."
The Court further opined,
"Merely because the enactment is a Central Legislation, it does not follow that its implementation can only be undertaken by the Central Government. The enactment itself authorises the State Government to specify in each district the Court of Sessions to be a Human Rights Court for providing speedy trial of offences arising out of violation of human rights with the concurrence of the Chief Justice of the High Court."
Therefore, the Court held that for the purposes of Section 30 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, the expression 'State' would include the Union Territory.
Consequently, the Court ruled that the notifications were rightly been issued by and under the orders of the Hon'ble Lieutenant Governor.
However, regarding the prayer of the Petitioner that no Public Prosecutor has been appointed for the Human Rights Court in the various districts of NCT of Delhi, the Court directed the Govt. Of NCT Of Delhi to respond within 4 weeks.
The Court has also directed the Delhi Government to respond to the 3rd prayer of the Petitioner, seeking the establishment of Human Rights Court in each of the 11 District Courts of Delhi.
The matter will now appear for further hearing on 17th August 2021.
Significantly, in the year 2019, The Supreme Court had pulled up states for not setting up 'Human Rights Courts' yet, by saying,
"Except in few States, there is no compliance of these orders and Session Judges have not been designated as Judges of Human Rights Courts created by the Act."
Case title – Sarvadaman Singh Oberoi v. Govt. Of NCT Of Delhi and others [W.P.(C) 1851/2021]