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The Delhi High Court bench of Justice Rajiv Shakdher on Friday (May 25) asked the National Human Rights Commission to consider sending its own representative to Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu to investigate the issue of the violence and deaths in the anti-Sterlite copper plant demonstrations, instead of relying merely on reports from the state’s DGP and Chief Secretary.

The court was reacting to a plea by Tamil Nadu-based lawyer Rajarajan which sought a direct probe into the major incident in which at least 12 have died, many in police firing.

This, alternatively, means that the court agreed to the lawyer’s argument that reports furnished by the DGP and the chief secretary aren’t likely to reflect the true picture on the ground.

The petitioner had earlier sought the intervention of the NHRC into the unlawful killings of protesters protesting against the hazardous Vedanta Copper Sterlite Factory in Thoothukudi district of the state.

However, the NHRC had refused to consider petitioner’s representation as a matter of urgency and had allegedly ignored the ground realities and had restricted itself to simply requesting reports from the chief secretary and the DGP of Tamil Nadu.

With the firing being done by the police, it was probably not normal or sensible to call for a report from the DGP, and with the government condoning the firing, it was also probably not sensible to call for a report from the chief secretary as well.

In court the petitioner said: “We filed this petition against the NHRC.”

The bench asked: “But they called some report from DGP. Where is that order?”

The petitioner said: “There is a problem. The NHRC is asking for a report from the DGP of the State of Tamil Nadu.”

The bench ordered: “The respondents NHRC shall consider the representation made by petitioner and trigger the enquiry under the protection of Human Rights Act. Having regards to the facts and circumstances and given the fact that respondents NHRC called for reports at this stage.

—India Legal Bureau

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