Kerala High Court: Human Rights Commission Cannot Decide Disputes Arising Out Of Statutory Powers And Duties

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The Kerala High Court observed that the HRC cannot decide disputes arising out of exercising rights. This observation occurred in a writ petition challenging an order passed by the Kerala State HRC dated 25.04.2012.

Facts of the case

The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) had laid four stay wires in the de facto petitioner’s property without his consent. The State Human Rights Commission passed an order to remove the wires. An executive engineer of the KSEB filed this writ petition questioning the authority of the commission.

Observations of the Court

The Court observed that the HRC cannot decide any dispute arising out of statutory powers and duties. The nature and powers of the commission recommends when rights on an individual is in question. The Court went on to distinguish between human rights and other rights. The former forms a right in rem, one can claim it being the member of that group. The paramount consideration being the entitlement of that group. Rest of the rights are referable to the individual. He may have derived it naturally, or under law, or as a right under the constitution.

Court’s Verdict

The Court noted that the HRC should have differentiated between these rights. Without doing that, the Commission could not have embarked on deciding the matter. Thus, the Court ruled that the order must pass without jurisdiction. Thus, the Court set aside the impugned order. The respondent may invoke any other remedy available under law.


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