- NHRC of India is an independent statutory body established on 12 October, 1993 as per provisions of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, later amended in 2006.
- It is the watchdog of human rights in the country, i.e. the rights related to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by Indian Constitution or embodied in the international covenants and enforceable by courts in India.
What Are Human Rights?
Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.
- NHRC was established in conformity with the Paris Principles, adopted for the promotion and protection of human rights held in Paris in October 1991, and endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations .
|What does the Paris Principles say?
Functions of NHRC:
The National Human Rights Commission Functions:
- Inquire, on its own or on a petition presented to it by a victim or any person on his behalf, into complaint of-
i ) violation of human rights or abetment or
- ii) negligence in the prevention of such violation, by a public servant;
- Intervene in any proceeding involving any allegation of violation of human rights pending before a court with the approval of such court;
- Visit, under intimation to the State Government, any jail or any other institution under the control of the State Government, to study the living condition of the inmates and make recommendations thereon ;
- 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;
- Review the factors, including acts of terrorism that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend appropriate remedial measures;
- 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;
- 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;
- Encourage the efforts of non – Governmental organizations and institutions working in the field of human rights;
Structure of NHRC
- According to the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment), 2019 Act, NHRC consists of a Chairperson, who has been a Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court.
- Members of NHRC: One member who is, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court of India and One member who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of a High Court.
- NHRC includes chairpersons of various commissions such as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, and National Commission for Women, National Commission for Backward Classes, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities as as ex officio members.
- Adding to the Act, NHRC also includes three persons having knowledge of human rights to be appointed of which at least one will be a woman.
- The Chairperson and the members of the NHRC are appointed for 3 years or till the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.
- They can be removed only on the charges of proved misbehavior or incapacity, if proved by an inquiry conducted by a Supreme Court Judge.
Limitations of NHRC
- The NHRC can only make recommendations, without the power to enforce decisions. This lack of authority gives an outright rejection of any recommendation or partial compliance.
- Under the Act, human rights commissions cannot investigate an event if the complaint was made more than one year after the incident. Therefore, a large number of genuine grievances go unaddressed.
- State human rights commissions cannot call for information from the national government, which means that they are implicitly denied the power to investigate armed forces under national control.
- Also, National Human Rights Commission powers related to violations of human rights by the armed forces have been largely restricted.
- Another major problem is that it is flooded with too many complaints, and are finding it difficult to address the increasing number of complaints.
Why in News?
The National Human Rights Commission has sought an action-taken report within four weeks from the Centre and the Madhya Pradesh government on a complaint by Bhopal gas tragedy survivors demanding the monthly pension of ₹1,000 to each widow of victims that was discontinued in December 2019.