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Records related to HR violations in J&K locked up in room since SHRC wound up: RTI reply

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New Delhi: Records related to alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, which were being handled by the erstwhile State Human Rights Commission, are locked up in a room since the panel was wound up after the state was downgraded into a Union Territory in August 2019, according to an RTI reply.

An application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act was filed by activist Venkatesh Nayak, who had sought to know the number of complaints pending before the commission as on October 31, 2019, when The Jammu and Kashmir Re-organisation Act, 2019 came into force.

The reorganisation bifurcated the erstwhile state into Union territories, which resulted in the winding up of autonomous bodies such as the State Human Rights Commission and the State Information Commission as central laws took over.

Responding to Nayak’s application, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has said it has no information related to the records of the erstwhile panel.

In response to his first appeal, the Jammu and Kashmir administration said after the reorganisation of the erstwhile state into two Union territories, the Jammu and Kashmir Protection of Human Rights Act, 1997 (the State Act) was repealed.

With the repeal of the Act, the General Administration Department wound up the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission, it said.

“All the records of the commission were locked in a designated room at the office premises of the erstwhile Human Rights Commission, Old Assembly Complex, Srinagar. The employees of the erstwhile commission were deputed and adjusted in different other departments.

“The records of the commission were not formally handed over to the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and as such are not accessible to the department,” the response said.

“As the records of the erstwhile State Human Rights Commission are not accessible or available to the public authority of the department nor are under the control of such authority and the information sought by the appellant is connected to such records, suffice it to say that the required information to this extent is not held by the public authority,” it added.

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