Chandigarh: Taking suo motu cognisance of violence during Jat quota agitation in Haryana, the state Human Rights Commission on Wednesday issued notices to authorities concerned seeking their responses even as it said it had not not received any complaint regarding alleged rape and molestation in Sonipat during the turmoil.
"So far, we have issued notices to nine authorities. Today, we issued notices to NHAI, Railways, Principal Secretary, Environment and Conservator Forests, Haryana, and the state's Principal Secretary, Irrigation," the Commission's Chairperson Justice Vijender Jain (retd) told reporters here.
"On March 4, we issued notices to Haryana's Chief Secretary, State DGP, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) and Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, who was asked to file a response on behalf of the Chief Minister," he said.
On media reports of rape and molestation during Jat stir near Murthal in Sonipat, Justice Jain said that so far no one has made any complaint to them in this regard.
Notices were earlier issued to the Director General of Civil Aviation and the Secretary Civil Aviation as there were charges that some airlines charged hefty sums of money from travellers between Chandigarh and Delhi as the national highway was blocked due to Jat stir.
A representative of a private carrier appeared before the Commission here, Justice Jain said three other operators have sought more time to appear.
"If they don't appear at all, we will pass ex-parte order then," he said.
Justice Jain, a former Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice, said that the Commission had invoked Section 13 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, to issue notices to the authorities, who have been asked to file their responses by 18 April.
Section 13 deals with powers of the Commission with regard to inquiries, empowers it with powers of a civil court trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
"We are having our own independent inquiry," he said referring to the incidents of violence, loot and arson during the Jat stir in the state last month.
The Commission will come out with a report within three months.
The rights body has also deputed its members and officers to visit the areas affected by the Jat stir.
Replying to a question, Justice Jain said if it is found that the government officers failed to ensure peace and protect the lives and liberty of the citizens, then they will be held responsible.
He also said there is a misconception that the Human Rights Commission is a "toothless tiger".
"The government is bound to take action on our report which it has to accept within a month and if they don't then they have to give reasons for the same," he said.
He said under the Act, "Human Rights Commission has full authority that to go even to the Supreme Court with our report and ask for mandamus to the government. That is if the government does not take action, this is what the Act mandates, we have the option that we can go to High Court or the apex court. We have power of recommendations of prosecution against the officers."
Jain said the protesters had also inflicted heavy damage to Munak canal near Sonipat, which had resulted in water supply to Delhi getting badly affected for a few days.
"The notice has been given to Principal Secretary of Irrigation as Munak Canal was damaged. Reports said the protesters used JCB machine and other mechanical apparatus.
As per media reports the authorities have said repairing the damaged canal could take 3-4 weeks. So, we want to know what is the mechamsim of the government and the Irrigation Department to prevent such an incident from happening," he said.
Jain said the Commission will inquire whether any action was taken against those who damaged and vandalised the property or if everything was left 'Bhagwan Bharosey' (leave everything to God).
Justice Jain said as several roads including key highways NH-1 and NH-10, were blocked by the protesters, therefore NHAI has been asked to respond whether they had filed any complaint against those who had blocked the roads and if they had made one, then what action was taken by authorities concerned, including the police.
"The notice has also been issued to Principal Secretary, Environment, and Conservator Forests, Haryana. There were reports that 17,000 trees had been axed by protesters. So, we want to know detail right from the forest guard at what time did he pass on the information that such a thing was taking place.
If he brought the incident of cutting trees to the notice of his superiors, then what action was taken. Police must have registered FIRs and what about investigations. If such a large number of trees were cut, where did they vanish, these are national property..all details we have sought," Jain said.
With reports that 17 railway stations were burnt by protesters during the Jat stir, the notice has also been issued to the Railways, he said.
Justice Jain said that Dheeraj Setia, DSP of the Commission will get the information as to which all Railway Stations and police stations have been damaged by the miscreants so that the teams of the Commission while visiting those particular districts may assess the damage.
Justice H S Bhalla, member of the Commission will visit Panipat-Sonipat, Justice J S Ahlawat, another member will visit Jhajjar, G K Khanna, Registrar of the Commission, will visit Rohtak, and all of them will assess the damage caused to the public and private properties.
Some other members and officers of the Commission will also visit other areas including Jind, Hisar, Bhiwani and Kaithal.