National Human Rights Commission of India


The National Human Rights Commission is a statutory (and not a constitutional) body.

It came into being in October, 1993.

This Act was amended in 2006.

In terms of Section 2 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, “human rights” means the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed under the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.

“International Covenants” means the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on the 16th December, 1966.

 

Composition–

The NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) consists of—

[1] A Chairperson, retired Chief Justice of India.

[2] One Member who is, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court of India.

[3] One Member who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of a High Court.

[4] Two Members to be appointed from among persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights.

[5] In addition, the Chairpersons of four National Commissions of (1. Minorities  2.SC and ST  3.Women) serve as ex officio members.

The Chairperson and Members of the Commission are appointed by the President on the basis of recommendations of a Committee comprising the Prime Minister as the Chairperson, the Speaker of Lok Sabha, the Home Minister, the leaders of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha as Members.

Tenure—

The Chairperson and the members of the NHRC have a tenure of five years.

But if any member attains the age of 70 years before the completion of his tenure, he or she has to retire from the membership.

The Chairperson or any other member of this commission can be removed by the President.

They can be removed only on the charge of proved misbehavior or incapacity or both, if it is proved by an inquiry conducted by a judge of the Supreme Court.

 

Functions of the Commission—

The Commission shall, perform all or any of the following functions, namely—

[1] Inquire, on its own initiative or on a petition presented to it by a victim or any person on his behalf, into complaint of—

–violation of human rights or abetment or

–negligence in the prevention of such violation, by a public servant;

[2] intervene in any proceeding involving any allegation of violation of human rights pending before a court with the approval of such court;

[3] visit, under intimation to the State Government, any jail or any other institution under the control of the State Government, where persons are detained or lodged for purposes of treatment, reformation or protection to study the living condition of the inmates and make recommendations thereon ;

[4] review the safeguards by or under the Constitution or any law for the time being in force for the protection of human rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation;

[5] review the factors, including acts of terrorism that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend appropriate remedial measures;

[6] study treaties and other international instruments on human rights and make recommendations for their effective implementation;

[7] undertake and promote research in the field of human rights;

[8] spread human rights literacy 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;

[9] encourage the efforts of non – Governmental organizations and institutions working in the field of human rights;

[10] such other functions as it may consider necessary for the promotion of human rights.

Powers have been vested with the Commission relating to inquiries—

[1] Summoning and enforcing the attendance of witnesses and examining them on oath;

[2] discovery and production of any document;

[3] receiving evidence on affidavits;

[4] requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office;

[5] issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses or documents;

[6] any other matter which may be prescribed.

The Commission has its own investigating staff headed by a Director General of Police for investigation into complaints of human rights violations.

Under the Act, it is open to the Commission to utilise the services of any officer or investigation agency of the Central Government or any State Government.

The Commission has associated, in a number of cases, non-Governmental organizations in the investigation work.

Complaints of the following nature are not entertained by the Commission:

In regard to events which happened more than one year before the making of the complaints;

[a] With regard to matters which are sub-judicial;

[b] Which are vague, anonymous or pseudonymous;

[c] Which pertain to service matters.