THis article is being republished from A First Taste of Law archives. This article is written by Shephalika Srivastava, 5th year law student at University of Lucknow. If you want to share your write ups about your law school, write to me: [email protected]
The famous scientist, Thomas A. Edison has said, “We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Opportunities always knock at our doorsteps, for it is upon us to seek, grab and make the best out of it. Even if the opportunity does not knock, one must build a door.
So, I just listened to my conscience and grabbed the opportunity of interning with National Human Rights Commission, Delhi, this summer.
My experience of interning at NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION (NHRC) was the most pleasing one of all the internships I have done up till now. The duration of the summer internship programme at NHRC was from 2nd of June to 1st of July, 2014. The one month internship programme at NHRC is a paid internship programme.
The selected interns from outside Delhi were allowed ordinary second-class train fare to New Delhi and back to their place of study through the shortest route. For interns other than from Delhi (NCR) an amount of rupees eight thousand were paid as stipend. Students from Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR) were paid rupees four thousand as stipend. An amount of rupees fifteen thousand was distributed to interns who were placed in first, second and third position in the order of the merit. The interns were also given the facilities of reading materials and identity card, library, computer with internet services.
The first day began with the introduction of the students.
We were total 60 students from every corner of the Country. We were made acquainted with the senior ranked officers and also the training department at NHRC. Our training officer under whose support and guidance we accomplished the internship was Mr. Sudershan Kr. Jain, who is the senior research officer at NHRC. My co-interns hailed from distinct educational courses running across the Indian sub-continent. Avenues for interning with the Commission was opened for the students pursuing LL.B., LL.M., MA in human rights, PG students of Political Science, Sociology, Masters in Social Work, Criminology, Public Administration, Rural development, History, Economics, Commerce, Anthropology, International relations and any of the disciplines of Social Sciences.
In the daily course we were made to understand the working of the Commission, how the issues related to human rights violation is brought into the notice of NHRC and also how the suo moto cognizance is taken by the Commission. In the mid of the daily strict schedule, every day the interns were distributed the refreshment coupons for breakfast, lunch and teatime which also brought in ourselves the feeling of amity and togetherness.
As it was a four weeks curriculum, in the first week we were required to go through the magnificent library of the Commission and choose a book of our taste for submitting a book review on it.
As I am always keen to put forward my opinions mostly on the issues relating to women, I wrote a review on ‘Child Marriage in India’, a book by ‘Jaya Sagade’. The author, in this book, analysed the reasons behind the child marriages which are still taking place in most of the parts of India despite of enactment of the legislation in 1929 to ban such an evil practice. It is the face of the reality today that children are being deprived of their childhood because of it. The author is a powerful critique and states the loopholes and lacunae of the Indian law, many of whose provisions contradict themselves and also the shortcomings of the provisions relating to the age of marriage, consent of marriage, its validity, etc., the contribution of various customs which violate the human rights and also role played by the civil society.
The second week kept us occupied with the State Presentation.
The topic of the state presentation was the ‘Human rights scenario in the state to which the interns belong to.’ Here we got an opportunity to put forward our state conditions and problems. As our team comprised of total ten members from Uttar Pradesh, we unearthed and presented the ghastly developing crime rates in our State. The Power Point Presentation helped in bringing out the real scene of the pathetic condition prevailing in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The bar graphs, the data, the real picture exposed the high level of human rights violation in the State. We also lime lighted the work done by NHRC in our state and also the work done by Uttar Pradesh State Human Rights Commission.
The third week came up as a challenge as all the students were allotted their teams to work upon the Project.
Total eight teams had to submit the Project work related to Human Rights issues and the topics were to be given by the dignitaries of the Commission. Our team had to submit the project on “Silicosis Problem in India.” We went through some of the files and cases which NHRC had taken up especially of the states- Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa, where this issue is most prominently reported. We were surprised to come across some of the reports which stated that more than 50% of the labourers working in the mining industry suffered from this occupational disease. And another shocking factor which came before us was that these workers were unaware of the disease they suffer from because of the illiteracy rate and also as they are hired for low wages so they could not afford to meet the medicinal expenses for their treatment. Moreover, the most of the mining unit lacks the facility of free medical aid for these poor people. The violations of the legislations enacted were done on a large scale. We, the team of eight members allotted the Indian States which were prone to such hazardous disease, amongst ourselves and with the combined efforts of all the teammates our project was a huge success.
In the last week of such an outstanding internship we were made to visit the Dasna Jail, situated in Ghaziabad district of Uttar Pradesh and also to the Naaz Foundation NGO situated in Delhi.
The Jail visit was an amazing experience. We came across some of the hardened criminals and also got the chance to meet Dr.Rajesh Talwar and Dr. Noopur Talwar, the convicts of Arushi murder case and also Moninder Singh Pandher involved in Nithari case. On questioning about Surinder Koli, another convict of the Nithari case we were told that he was kept in solitary confinement. We were not allowed to ask any personal questions so we questioned regarding the treatment of the prisoners in the jail and their condition in the jail. We also saw different cells for women and men prisoners.
The Jail comprised of a huge kitchen which is looked after by the prisoners themselves.
The prisoners cook their meals themselves, they are also involved in the activities like gardening, washing clothes, painting, sketching, etc. The cleanliness of the jail campus is looked after the prisoners themselves. The peculiar thing which we found about the male prisoners was that they were dressed up in maroon and yellow uniforms. The yellow uniform prisoners were the lifetime convicts. There were separate prisons which were for those prisoners who were suffering from highly communicable disease. There is also a small hospital in the jail premises to look after the ill prisoners. We also had an interactive session with the Jail Superintendent and also with the prisoners who wanted us to know their grievances so that the true picture of their cases could be known to common people like us. Next, we were taken to Naaz Foundation NGO which is the home for children suffering from AIDS and also of homosexual people.
Our exclusive visit to the police stations was also a memorable experience. For the police station visit as well, the interns were divided into five groups and each group in charge was a Nodal Officer who was appointed for our visit. The five police stations were chosen in such a way that it covered whole of the area of Delhi. I visited Shakarpur Police Station under the leadership of Mr. S.N. Mishra. The points we noted during the Police Station visit were-
- Daily working/functioning of the Police Station.
- Whether the guidelines laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of D.K. Basu vs. State of West Bengal is followed by the Police Station or not.
- Contact of the police officers with the general public.
- The condition of the lock ups, barracks, safety and security, facilities for lady police officers in the Police Station.
- Notice boards in the Police Station related to Right to Information, Juvenile Justice Act.
- Maintenance of the Daily Diary (Roznamcha), inquest registers and other records.
- Behaviour of the police officers while dealing with the complainant, their communication levels and also their attitude in dealing with crime against women.
Besides this, each day was occupied with the classroom sessions. Sessions on-
- Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956.
- Role of media in NHRC.
- Health and Human Rights.
- Human Rights and Police Need of Reforms.
- Mental Health in India and Human Rights.
- Human Rights Aspect of Jail.
- Elimination of Bonded Labour System.
- Human Rights Related to Disabled People.
- Human Rights and Environment.
- Special Provisions Available for Schedule caste, Schedule tribes and other backward classes.
- Rights of the refugees.
- Problems faced by Rag Pickers.
- Rights of Women.
- Rights of Elderly Persons.
- Session on Armed Forces Special Power Act, 1958 (AFSPA).
- Migrant Workers and Human Rights.
- Interactive session with senior IPS officer, Mr.SC SINHA.
- Human Rights and Manual Scavenging, a session with Human Rights activist, Mr. BEZWADA WILSON.
- Interactive session with the Hon’ble Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission, K.G.
- BALAKRISHNAN, J.
- Interactive session with Justice D.MURUGESAN.
- Films were shown and discussions relating to Child labour, Anti Trafficking, Health and education in Human
- Rights context were held.
We were also taken to an Orphanage Home named, ‘Baal Sahyog’ situated in the heart of the Delhi, Connaught Place.
We met children of every age-group we interacted with them, shared our experiences and played games. They organised for us musical programme and showed their talents by singing and playing musical instruments like guitar, violin, piano, drums and flute. We also visited the primary school and the dispensary which was in the orphanage campus itself and took note of its conditions. On interacting with the orphanage authorities we came to know about the challenges faced by both staff members and children in their day to day life and also enquired about how NHRC supports them.
Our next programme was Cultural Programme which was to be organised by all the interns on the eve of the Valediction Day in the NHRC campus.
Everyone decided their roles beforehand and contributed their bit. The Programme started with Saraswati Vandana and included Bihu dance, Assamese song, a film prepared on women emancipation, a Bengali poem composed by one of the interns, Gidda dance and a skit prepared by interns on sexual abuse amongst males.
The last day of the internship was the Valediction Day of the Summer Internship Programme, 2014.
On completion of the internship, the certificates were distributed to us on the basis of the attendance, punctuality, discipline, participation in class during the sessions, state presentation, project presentation and project report, debate and book review and also on this day we got the much awaited stipend. We were also handed over with the list of NHRC non-priced publications which were fifty four in number. And we were privileged of taking away any number of those publications along with us. As per my interest I took away the following publications along with me, titled-
- The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
- Report on Prevention of Atrocities against Schedule Caste.
- Dalit Rights.
- Women’s Right to Health.
- Rights of the Disabled.
- Children in India and their Rights.
- Human Rights Manual for District Magistrates.
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- Guidelines regarding “Arrest”.
- Manual for Human Rights for Police Officers.
- Starvation, Malnutrition and Malnutrition related Deaths of Children in 15 Tribal Districts of Maharashtra-
- Report of An Enquiry Conducted by Dr. Lakshmidhar Mishra IAS (Retd.)
- Living Conditions and Human Rights of Inmates: Status in 18 Prisons of the Four States in Southern Region,
- 20 Prisons of the Eight States and UT of Chandigarh in Northern Region and Fourteen Prisons of the Five States in North-Eastern Region.
So, at last but not the least, I can call the internship at National Human Rights Commission to be the best internship I have done till date.
I came to know about the different aspects of Human Rights which all human beings possess by virtue of their being human. Human Right is the basic and inalienable right which belong to us because of our very existence. From this internship I have learnt so much and everything in a quite expansive manner. Thereby, I personally feel and recommend that once in a lifetime everyone should intern, contribute or be a part of this beautiful cause and institution to look into the proper functioning of the government and in some way or the other, act as a saviour of HUMAN RIGHTS. As a human being we should also look into the issues of violation of Human Rights by the state and take a step ahead to fight back the atrocities suffered in this regard. By merely studying Human Rights as a subject in the course, I was totally unaware about the multi-dimensional and practical aspect of the Human Rights until I did the internship in one of the most prestigious institution of our Country.
5TH YEAR, LL.B. HONS.
FACULTY OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF LUCKNOW