National Human Rights Commission is a statutory (and not a constitutional) body.
- Established in 1993 under a legislation enacted by the Parliament, namely, the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
- Amended in 2006.
- watchdog of human rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the international covenants and enforceable by courts
- conformity with the Paris Principles, adopted at the first international workshop on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights held in Paris in October 1991, and endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations by its Regulations 48/134 of 20 December, 1993.
Composition of National Human Rights Commission
- multi-member body consisting of a chairman and four members
- Chairperson-retired chief justice of India or a judge of the Supreme Court
- Members-serving or retired judges of the Supreme Court, a serving or retired chief justice of a High Court and two persons having knowledge or practical experience in human rights.
- Four ex-officio members—the chairmen of the National Commission for Minorities, the National Commission for SCs, National Commission for STs, National Commission for BCs and the National Commission for Women
- Appointed by the president on the recommendations of a six-member committee consisting of:
- Prime minister as its head,
- Speaker of the Lok Sabha,
- Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (Not Chairman)
- Leaders of the Opposition in both the Houses of Parliament and
- Central Home minister
- Note: A sitting judge of the Supreme Court or a sitting chief justice of a high court can be appointed only after consultation with the chief justice of India
- 5 Yrs or 70 Years whichever is earlier
- eligible for re-appointment
- After Tenure both chairperson and members are not eligible for further employment under the Central or a state government
- President can remove the chairperson or any member:
- Adjudged an insolvent
- Engaged in paid employment outside his duties
- Unfit to continue / infirmity of mind or body
- Unsound mind
- Convicted and sentenced to imprisonment
- Misbehavior / incapacity (President refer to SC for enquiry)
- Salaries, allowances and other conditions of service of the chairperson or a member are determined by the Central government / cannot be varied to his disadvantage
Functions of National Human Rights Commission
- Proactively or reactively inquire into violations of human rights by government of India or negligence of such violation by a public servant
- the protection of human rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation
- review the factors, including acts of terrorism that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend appropriate remedial measures
- to study treaties and other international instruments on human rights and make recommendations for their effective implementation
- undertake and promote research in the field of human rights
- to visit jails and study the condition of inmates
- engage in human rights education among various sections of society and promote awareness of the safeguards available for the protection of these rights through publications, the media, seminars and other available means
- encourage the efforts of NGOs and institutions congress to working in the field of human rights.
- it considers the necessity for the protection of human rights.
- requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office.
Working of National Human Rights Commission
- Headquarter-Delhi (Can also establish at other places)
- power to regulate its own procedure
- powers of a civil court and its proceedings have a judicial character
- empowered to utilise the services of any officer or investigation agency of the Central government or any state government
- not empowered to inquire into any matter after the expiry of one year from the date on which the act constituting violation of human rights is alleged (look into a matter within one year of its occurrence)
Steps during or upon the completion of an inquiry:
- Recommend to make payment of compensation or damages
- Recommend initiation of proceedings for prosecution against the guilty public servant
- Recommend grant of immediate interim relief
- approach the Supreme Court or the high court for the necessary directions, orders or writs
- mainly recommendatory (Informed about action taken within 1 month)
- no power to punish the violators of human rights, nor to award any relief including monetary relief
- not binding on the concerned government or authority
- limited role, powers and jurisdiction with respect to armed forces
- submits its annual or special reports to Union/State Govt. (Not to President)
Performance of the Commission
The various human rights issues taken up by the Commission are as follows:
- Abolition of Bonded Labour
- Functioning of the Mental Hospitals at Ranchi, Agra and Gwalior
- Functioning of the Government Protective Home (Women), Agra
- Issues Concerning Right to Food
- Review of the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929
- Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child
- Preventing Employment of Children by Government Servants: Amendment of Service Rules
- Abolition of Child Labour etc
The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019, inter alia, provides:
- that a person who has been a Judge of the Supreme Court is also made eligible to be appointed as Chairperson of the Commission in addition to the person who has been the Chief Justice of India;
- to increase the Members of the Commission from two to three of which, one shall be a woman;
- to include Chairperson of the National Commission for Backward Classes, Chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities as deemed Members of the Commission;
- to reduce the term of the Chairperson and Members of the Commission and the State Commissions from five to three years and shall be eligible for re-appointment;
- to provide that a person who has been a Judge of a High Court is also made eligible to be appointed as Chairperson of the State Commission in addition to the person who has been the Chief Justice of the High Court; and,
- to confer upon State Commissions, the functions relating to human rights being discharged by the Union territories, other than the Union territory of Delhi, which will be dealt with by the Commission.
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