“It appears that the Respondent Government has deliberately failed to fill all positions since its inception and failed to provide all necessary facilities to make it fully functional,” says the PIL filed by Patkar with law student Jinay Jain (18).
He pointed out that following the instruction of the Supreme Court of September 2006 in the Prakash Singh case, Maharashtra created on June 25, 2014 the SPCA and the divisional PCAs.
“To make it and keep it functional, it is necessary to appoint all chairpersons and members in time and provide all facilities, infrastructure to it,” he adds. A January 2002 right to information response revealed that out of 25 positions, only those of president and secretary-member are filled by regular appointment. “The positions of the remaining members are yet to be filled 2 years after the President takes office,” he said, noting that Judge (retired) Shrihari Davare took office in March 2020. On sanctioned positions for office work, the post of chief administrative officer is on deputation and the rest are contracted and hired by outside agencies. No accommodation or driver is provided for the President and members. There is also no dedicated web portal “to allow litigants and victims to approach the authority in a transparent way” and during Covid19, the e-mode was not implemented. Patkar’s petition informs that if 6 departmental PCAs were to be created, only 4 are functional.
“There have been no appointments in other DPCAs and they are not functional, thereby depriving citizens/victims of a valuable statutory right of access to justice in cases of atrocities, excesses or of police corruption,” he said. He adds that it has “the effect of silencing poor victims” who cannot muster the resources and courage to approach the SPCA in Mumbai, being far away, inconvenient and having no online complaints service. In February 2022, Patkar wrote unsuccessfully to the government. His PIL urged to fill SPCA positions “on a time-limited basis and, more specifically, member positions on a priority basis. ”
The PIL is set down for hearing on Monday before a bench headed by the Chief Justice.