April 5, 2007 | Comments Off on Punjab State Agencies Respond to Torture Cases
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) last month recommended that the Punjab Government pay Rs. 25,000 to a man from Mohali who was allegedly tortured by local police. The Commission determined that the nature of the injuries prima facie suffered by the victim warranted immediate interim relief. According to the Times of India, the victim was brought to the Mohali police station, beaten with a cane, and given electric shocks, after which he was abandoned in Daun village. This case is one of the first instances where the PSHRC has exercised its power to recommend compensation for victims of human rights violations under the recently amended Protection of Human Rights Act (November 23, 2006). However, the Commission cannot compel the government to provide the immediate compensation. Such limitations of the amended PHRA have been criticized by human rights groups. Currently a case of abduction has been registered against three police personnel.
On March 16, 2007, a station house officer (SHO) was suspended for allegedly torturing a woman suspected of theft. According to the Punjabi Tribune the woman was subjected to “third-degree torture” while in police custody, and the officer operated in direct violation of the government’s policy against calling women to police stations for questioning. The SHO refutes the allegations, claiming that the suspect was picked up and brought back to her home by women constables, and she suffered no mistreatment. When the allegations were brought to the attention of Punjab Chief Minister Badal, he directed the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Amritsar to take strict action. In addition to the suspension, an inquiry has been ordered.