National Human Rights Commission

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India is a statutory public body. It was established in 1993 under an ordinance. Later it gained the statutory status through the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

About NHRC

The commission proactively enquires violation of human rights by Government of India. It recommends measures to protect human rights of the citizens of the country. It studies treaties and international instruments of other countries and makes recommendations to implement them in India. Also, the NHRC reviews acts of terrorism that inhibit enjoyment of human rights by the public. It encourages the efforts of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO). It educates the citizens about the importance of human rights and also promotes awareness of safeguards available to protect these rights. The NHRC members have rights to visit jail and study the conditions of the inmates.

Composition

The NHRC is headed by a chairperson. The chairperson should have been a Chief Justice of India or A Judge in Supreme Court. Also, there are four other members in NHRC. Of these, one member should be a Judge of Supreme Court. Of the other three members, one has to be a woman. The chairperson and the members of NHRC are appointed by the President of India based on the recommendation of a committee. The Committee consists of Prime Minister of India, Home Minister, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Speaker of Lok Sabha and Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha. The Prime Minister is the chairperson of the committee.

State Human Commission

The State Government has powers to constitute State Human Commission.

Background

India established NHRC in pursuant of the following principles:

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in the United Nations in 1948
  • In 1991, Paris Principles were developed in United Nations meeting. These principles were the foundation for establishing National Human Rights institutions all over the world. Based on this India passed the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 and established NHRC.

Limitations

The NHRC does not have a standard mechanism of investigation. It can only make recommendations but cannot enforce them. NHRC cannot investigate complaints registered after one year of the incident. Because of this many of the grievances go unaddressed. The powers of NHRC related to violation of human rights by Indian Armed forces are restricted.

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