State Police Complaints Authority, Goa Human Rights Commission, functioning without chairmen

Panjim: Goa’s two prominent constitutional rights bodies – the State Police Complaints Authority (SPCA) and the Goa Human Rights Commission (GHRC) continues to function without a Chairman each, for several months.

While the functioning of the SPCA has not been largely hampered except that it has to keep on hold the “final reports” in the absence of a Chairman, the situation at GHRC is worrisome. The hearings at GHRC have come to a complete standstill as the only member A D Salkar who undertook cases in the absence of a Chairman and second member, retired in July 2019. Since then, the institution has not taken up any hearings and fresh complaint applications are being ‘inwarded’ but not registered until reconstitution of the board.

The SPCA and GHRC have been without its Chairman for around 21 months and 34 months respectively.

At SPCA, which was formed in April 2007, the final report in 12 matters including that of a complaint filed by Kavesh Gosavi – acquitted in shrines desecration cases – are pending. Gosavi, who was charge-sheeted in a series of shrines desecration cases, was acquitted by the Margao court in 2013. He along with two others Abdul Albaksh Gaffer Shirogod and Khalil Mohammad then moved the SPCA challenging the narco analysis tests conducted on them without their consent. SPCA members S B S Kerkar and Dr B A Gomes, who completed hearing the matter, have held back the final report to an undecided date.

The Chairman’s post fell vacant on retirement of Justice (retd) R M S Khandeparkar who completed his five years tenure on March 31, 2018. Although the SPCA members continue to hold hearings into complaints/cases, the panel does not have the powers to deliver verdict sans its Chairman. Over 500 cases have been filed with the SPCA over a decade and more, out of which 429 cases have been either disposed of or have been dismissed while over 90 other cases are still pending hearing.

The GHRC, on the other hand, had just one member A D Salkar, holding the fort, for past many months. First it was Chairman Justice (retd) Prafulla Misra’s tenure that ended on March 3, 2016 after which member A D Salkar was appointed as acting chairman but for a small duration. His appointment to the acting Chairman’s post was thereafter revoked. Thereafter, its second member J A Keny’s death in September 2018 left the Commission with just one member to handle the cases.

Now with A D Salkar’s retirement on July 27, 2019, the entire functioning has come to a standstill leaving hearing into many important cases pending.
“The GHRC has nearly 326 pending cases as on date. No hearing is taking place and new complaints are being accepted only till the inward section of the office. These complaints cannot be registered until the Board is in place, because it is for the Board to decide whether to accept the cases to initiate proceedings or reject it,” a source said adding that the retirement age of the Chairman and members are 70 years.

The Home department is in the know of the situation. However the continuous delay in the appointments of the GHRC Board comprising of Chairman and two members besides the SPCA Chairman has raised concern among certain sections of the society. [H]