NHRC Dismisses Complaint on Chandigarh Mayor Election

The NHRC dismissed SCHCLA's complaint regarding Chandigarh Mayor election, citing alternative legal remedies and sub-judice status.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) recently dismissed a complaint alleging human rights violations in connection with a Supreme Court judgment regarding the Chandigarh Mayor election. The complaint, filed by the Supreme Court/High Courts Litigation Society (SCHCLA), raised concerns about the fundamental and constitutional rights of Anil Masih, the Presiding Officer of the election. However, the NHRC's decision to dismiss the complaint sheds light on various legal and procedural aspects.

Background of the Case

The complaint stemmed from a civil appeal (No. 2874 of 2024) involving Kuldeep Kumar and others, concerning the election of the Mayor of Chandigarh. In its verdict, the Supreme Court declared Kuldeep Kumar as the new Mayor and condemned any actions that undermine electoral democracy, even at the local level. Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, leading a three-judge Bench, took action against Anil Masih for tampering with ballot papers, captured on security cameras. Consequently, Manoj Sonkar, of the BJP, assumed office as Mayor.

Complaint by SCHCLA

Following the verdict, SCHCLA filed a complaint alleging violations of Articles 20 and 21 of the Constitution, pertaining to protection against self-incrimination and protection of life and personal liberty, respectively. They argued that the Supreme Court's order infringed upon these fundamental rights.

NHRC's Dismissal

The NHRC, upon reviewing the complaint and the Supreme Court judgment, concluded that Anil Masih had been given an opportunity to respond to the court's notice and contest the proceedings initiated against him under Section 340 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.PC). Therefore, the NHRC deemed that an alternative legal remedy was available for the complainant to address their grievances. Additionally, since the matter was pending before the Supreme Court for further consideration, it was considered sub-judice. In accordance with Regulation 9 (XI) of the NHRC (Procedure) Regulations, 1994, the NHRC declared the petition not maintainable.

Legal and Procedural Analysis

The NHRC's dismissal of the complaint raises several legal and procedural considerations:

  1. Availability of Alternative Remedy: The NHRC emphasized that Anil Masih had the opportunity to present his case before the Supreme Court. This highlights the principle of exhaustion of remedies, where complainants are expected to pursue available legal avenues before approaching human rights commissions.
  2. Sub-Judice Nature of the Matter: The NHRC recognized the sub-judice status of the case, indicating that matters pending before courts cannot be adjudicated upon by human rights commissions. This ensures judicial independence and avoids interference with ongoing legal proceedings.
  3. Regulation 9 (XI) of NHRC (Procedure) Regulations, 1994: The NHRC's decision was in line with its procedural regulations, which govern the handling of complaints. Regulation 9 (XI) prohibits the commission from entertaining matters that are sub-judice.
  4. Constitutional Rights Allegations: While the complaint raised concerns about violations of fundamental rights under Articles 20 and 21, the NHRC's dismissal suggests that these issues are best addressed within the legal framework of the courts.

The NHRC's dismissal of the complaint underscores the importance of adhering to legal procedures and respecting the sub-judice status of matters pending before courts. It reaffirms the principle of exhausting available legal remedies before seeking redress from human rights commissions. Additionally, it highlights the need for clarity regarding the respective roles and jurisdictions of judicial and quasi-judicial bodies in addressing human rights violations.