The United Progressive Alliance II government will be put to shame in international eyes with the NHRC sending a damaging report to the UN on the government's prestigious flagship programmes and its double standards with regards to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act
The mechanism invites three reports from every country -- one from the government, another from the country's human rights commission and third from the civil society -- to judge its performance on human rights.
The NHRC report quotes the government's 2011 report to the UN that "India does not face either international or non-international armed conflict situations," to assert that it sees no reason for continuing with the AFSPA." It says, "...considering the evidence we have on record to show how the military is using it, the act should go."
Pointing out that AFSPA remains in force in Jammu and Kashmir and in the northeastern states, conferring an impunity that often leads to the violation of human rights, the report advocates its immediate revocation, "considering the enormous opposition the act has generated in the states where it is in force."
It also criticises the Prevention of Torture Bill, already passed by the Lok Sabha, saying it would be a travesty if the original bill is adopted despite the Rajya Sabha's select committee making sweeping changes to strengthen it. It also lambasts the attitude of bureaucrats, pointing out that "the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes remain
particularly vulnerable despite laws to protect them because of the indifference of public servants."
The flagship programmes that have been faulted by the NHRC include Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act saying it has failed to guarantee the right to employment, the goal for which it was enacted by the UPA government. It guarantees 100 days of work a year to any rural household that needs it, but the government's own data shows that 55 million out of 56 million households that applied were given work but only at half the wages guaranteed.
"The scheme has not, therefore, made enough of an impact; very large sums of money have been siphoned off and it does not provide long-term employment or build permanent assets," says the report. Similarly, it says the massive public distribution system has not assured the right to food because malnutrition is endemic.
The report goes on to mock the government's loud claims of giving right to education, pointing out that the quality of education, particularly in villages, is dismal, the infrastructure appalling, teachers absent, the staff poorly trained and learning levels and literacy very low.
It documents cases of custodial injustice and says that jails remain overcrowded and unhygienic. "Over 67 per cent of prisoners are under trial, unable to raise bail or confined far longer than they should be because of the huge backlog of cases. Over 56,383 cases were pending in the Supreme Court at the end of October 2011. At the end of 2010, 4.2 million cases were pending in high courts and 28 million in subordinate courts."
The report also raises concern over the human rights violation as a routine by the police as 35 per cent of complaints the NHRC receives annually are against police.