The Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission has directed the state government to pay Rs 2 lakh each to five animal activists for “blatant violation of their human rights” after they were allegedly assaulted at a police lock up in Nanded in February this year.
The commission in February took suo motu cognisance of the case where a police officer in Nanded allegedly assaulted some youth for stopping vehicles carrying smuggled cows.
The commission in its November 9 order, passed by its chairperson retired Justice K K Tated and member M A Sayed, said it has no hesitation to hold that the victims’ human rights right to live with dignity and honour have been “blatantly breached on account of the illegal and perverse action” by the erring police officer.
Such illegal action naturally entitles the victims to compensation for their humiliation and turmoil, it said.
The commission in its order said the police officer’s action in treating the victims in an inhumane manner cannot be justified in any way as he is himself the protector and guardian of law.
The commission directed the Maharashtra government’s additional chief secretary to comply with the order within a month.
It also directed the additional chief secretary to ask the state director general of police to frame guidelines on police brutality and abuse of powers.
The commission noted that while an FIR was later lodged against the errant police officer and departmental inquiry initiated, it was of the firm opinion that a case under the Protection of Human Rights Act has been made out.
“The basic and prime reason for such conclusion is the fact that the victims were bashed up by the erring police officer concerned which has resulted in disciplinary action against him as well as further action against him in accordance with law,” the panel said.
“The very act of bringing the victims to the police station, asking them to remove their clothes and bashing them up must have resulted in great humiliation to them as such an incident very conveniently comes within the four corners of the term ‘harassment’,” it said.
In another case of 2022, the commission on October 31 directed the Nandurbar district superintendent of police to pay Rs 21,000 compensation to a social worker against whom a false case was lodged after he raised complaints against illegal smuggling of leather.
Animal rights activists have welcomed both the orders and said this would raise awareness.
Ashok Jain, chairman of the high court-appointed sub-committee meant to monitor animal welfare laws in the state, said the order would be helpful for animal welfare officers and activists.
Nandini Kulkarni, an animal welfare officer of the committee, said such orders offer justice not just to animal caretakers and vigilant citizens but also to the voiceless animals.