Bengal rights panel cites helplessness in gang rape case
The state's human rights panel Thursday expressed its helplessness in taking up the gang rape of a tribal woman allegedly on the orders of a kangaroo court, citing non-availability of judicial members.
The West Bengal Human Rights Commission, following the resignation of its chairperson A.K. Ganguly, currently has only one member, former state police chief Naparajit Mukherjee, who is now also its chairman.
"The commission has now only one member, that too a non-judicial member in form of Mukherjee. As there are no judicial members, we cannot take cognizance of the unfortunate and barbaric incident," commission registrar Rabindranath Samanta said.
The commission when functional has taken suo motu cognizance of several incidents of gross human rights violations and made suitable recommendations, including awarding compensations.
Two members of the commission - which has a sanctioned strength of three, including its chairperson - Justice (retd.) N.C. Sil and Sourin Roy retired earlier following the expiry of their term.
While former Supreme Court judge A.K. Ganguly stepped down as the panel chief earlier this month following accusations of sexually harassing a former law intern.
Even the appointment of Mukherjee on the panel has been opposed by civil rights groups.
The 20-year-old tribal woman was allegedly raped by more than a dozen men Monday night in Subalpur village in Birbhum district, some 180 km from Kolkata. Thirteen people have been arrested so far.
The woman admitted to a hospital with critical injuries was subjected to the brutality on the order of a kangaroo court which held her guilty of having an affair with a man outside her community.
Reminiscent of the infamous Mukhtaran Mai case in Pakistan, the incident has evoked strong response from political parties and members of civil society.
The West Bengal Commission for Women has taken suo motu cognizance and ordered a probe into the incident, chairperson Sunanda Mukherjee Thursday said.
(Posted on 23-01-2014)