Anti-Sterlite protest: HC leaves it to NHRC to decide lawyer's plea

Anti-Sterlite protest: HC leaves it to NHRC to decide lawyer's plea

Police personnel deployed after violent protests demanding the closure of Vedanta's Sterlite Copper unit, in Tuticorin, on Thursday. Over 100 people were arrested for protesting police firing on Tuesday and Wednesday in the port city that left 13 dead. (P

The Delhi High Court on Friday left it to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to decide a lawyer's representation for an independent probe into the deaths in police firing during the protests against Vedanta's Sterlite Copper unit in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin district.

Since the NHRC has already sought a report from the state's chief secretary and the director general of police (DGP), the Tamil Nadu-based lawyer can appear before the Commission to obtain suitable directions, Justice Rajiv Shakdher said.

"Let the represenation be placed before the NHRC for directions on May 29," the court said and disposed of the plea by advocate A Rajarajan.

Violence broke out on May 22 during protests demanding the closure of the factory over pollution concerns with police opening fire, resulting in the death of 13 people. The agitation has been going on for over three months to demand the closure of the factory.

Appearing for Rajarajan, advocate Sabarish Subramanian said his client has sought a probe which was independent of the control of the DGP or the chief secretary as they were allegedly responsible for the orders to the police to open fire on the protestors.

However, the judge did not accept the argument, saying "I know who the chief secretary is. She is a fine officer."

The court also said that the concerns raised in the plea "have weight" and the NHRC has already taken cognisance of the issue.

It said that having regard to the facts and circumstances and since it has taken up the matter on its own, the petitioner may "appear before the NHRC to obtain suitable directions.

The advocate's plea, moved yesterday in the High Court for direct intervention of NHRC into the incident, said he had given a representation to the NHRC on May 23 seeking earliest intervention into the "unlawful killings" and claimed that the human rights panel had refused to consider it as a matter of urgency and ignored the ground realities.

The petitioner has alleged that "human rights violation and continuous unlawful killings by indiscriminate police firing was happening even after the case was suo motu taken and the report was requested by the respondent (NHRC)".

The petition has alleged that unless the NHRC directly intervenes in the issue at the earliest or through an independent agency, the "unlawful killings by police" will continue and there is a possibility of destruction of evidence.