Taking suo motu cognisance of the arrest of five activists for their alleged links with banned Maoist organisations, the National Human Rights Commission has sought a status report from chief secretary Dinesh Kumar Jain and Director General of Police Datta Padsalgikar. It remains to be seen if Jain and Padsalgikar respond to the notice, since the state government has ignored NHRC’s notices in the past.

A week ago, Pune police led by senior IPS officer K Venkatesham arrested lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, civil liberties activists Gautam Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and poet Varavara Rao under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for links with Maoist organisations.

From media reports, NHRC felt the law-enforcing agencies did not follow the standard operating procedure before arresting them, resulting in human rights violation.

A Geneva-based NGO had also lodged a complaint with NHRC, saying the arrest of the activists was bad in law and illegal.

Surprisingly, while the NHRC notice is available on its website, the state home department has claimed it did not receive the notice.

It appears despite setting up an alternate disputes redressal mechanism, there is lack of seriousness in providing them basic infrastructure or even implementing orders passed by these organisations.

Ever since the State Human Rights Commission was set up, it has been operating from a small barrack near the BMC headquarters. For nearly a year now, it has been headless. High ranking bureaucrats do not take the commission or state administrative tribunals seriously. They swing into action only after a contempt notice is issued against them.

Recruitment Record

The medical education department set a record when it recruited more than 500 teaching staff for governmentrun medical colleges across the state within six months.

Earlier, the selection of assistant and associate professors and professors was entrusted to the Maharashtra Public Service Commission. However, due to procedural delays, appointment of teachers was affected, resulting in a large number of colleges facing de-recognition owing to staff shortage.

Alarmed by the red tapism and inordinate delay, MED took it upon itself to appoint teachers. Medical education secretary Sanjay Deshmukh drafted a comprehensive selection procedure. Once advertisements were issued, Deshmukh set up independent panels headed by former vice-chancellors to pick the candidates.

Deshmukh termed it a big achievement for the department, since most vacancies have been filled up.