NHRC gets tough on govts for suffering traffic police

In good news for traffic policemen facing the wrath of rising air pollution, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is getting tough with the governments.

The NHRC on Monday threatened “coercive” actions against the central and state governments, if they do not respond to its notice seeking details of what they did to help these personnel.

“Most of the state governments are not providing any extra allowances or health facilities to the traffic police personnel” who are facing reduced life expectancy and other respiratory ailments due to vehicular pollution, it said.

Taking cognizance of a complaint that raised the issue of right to health of traffic police personnel, the NHRC has now asked the Union Home Secretary and Chief Secretaries of all states to submit detailed response within eight weeks.

It warned the states that it will be “constrained to invoke coercive process under section 13 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993” if they choose to delay their response. This section deals with NHRC’s powers relating to inquiries.

Under this section, the NHRC has powers to seize any document. It will also has powers of a civil court when offences under Sections 175, 178, 179, 180 or 228 of the Indian Penal Code is committed. These sections deal with refusal of producing documents, answering public servant authorised to question and intentional insult or interruption to public servant sitting in judicial proceeding.

In Bengaluru, a number of traffic personnel had reported respiratory problems. Earlier this month, DH reported that surgical masks provided by the traffic department to their personnel to protect them from air pollution was substandard.

With air pollution breaching all records in the national capital recently, traffic police personnel had complained that they are exposed to high dose of pollutants and are experiencing respiratory ailments. Many of them wear masks while on duty. A medical camp conducted by Delhi Police showed that a large number of its traffic personnel were having respiratory ailments.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Jan 30, 2018)

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