The Indian Constitution has provided provisions for statutory bodies; these bodies are established to foreguard the laws and rights of the Indian Constitution. One such composition or body is the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Let us see the features of this Commission and its role in the country.
Origin of the National Human Rights Commission
The National Human Rights Commission was established in 1993 and enacted under the Production of Human Rights Act, 1993. The Act was further amended in 2006.
What is the Aim of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)?
National Human Rights Commission is the watchdog of human rights in India. It guards the rights related to life, equality, and dignity of the individual granted in the constitution.
Objectives of the National Human Rights Commission:
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has the following objectives:
- The NHRC strengthens the arrangements of the institutes.
- The NHRC supports how human rights issues could be focused better.
- The NHRC complements the efforts that have been made in the above-mentioned directions.
- The NHRC checks the government’s commitment to protecting human rights.
What is the Composition of the National Human Rights Commission?
- The National Human Rights Commission is a multi-member body. It consists of a chairman and four members.
Qualification of the Chairman:
- The Chairman must be a retired chief justice of India.
Qualification of Other Members:
- The members must be serving or retired Supreme court judges or retired chief justice of the high court.
- Two members of the be group must have practical knowledge in respect to human rights.
Who are the Ex-Office Members of the NHRC?
The National Human Rights Commission has the following four ex-officio members.
- The Chairman of the National Commission for minorities.
- The Chairman of the National Commission for SCs.
- The Chairman of the National Commission for STs.
- The Chairman of the National Commission for women.
What is the Tenure of the Members of NHRC?
The President appoints the members of the National Human Rights Commission for a tenure of 5 years or until they attain the age of 70 years.
The Union Government determines the salaries or allowances of the National Human Rights Commission.
How does the National Human Rights Commission Work?
The principal headquarters of the Commission is situated in Delhi. Also, the Commission can establish its office at other places in India. It has its investigating staff for investigation against complaints. Further, it can use the services of any officer or agency of the Union or the state government. Aside from these, it can use the state or the union government for obtaining any information or report. However, the Commission cannot carry out any investigation after the expiry of one year.
What are the Functions of the National Human Rights Commission?
The functions of the National Human Rights Commission are as follows:
- The Commission inquires about any violation of human rights on the petition, a suo motu, or a court’s order.
- It visits jails and detention places and studies the living conditions, and makes recommendations.
- The Commission reviews the constitutional and legal safeguards of the constitution related to human rights.
- It also studies the factors of terrorism, treaties, and other international instruments related to human rights.
- It takes efforts to promote research in the field of human rights.
- It spreads human rights and literacy.
- It also encourages NGOs to work in the sector of human rights.
What is the Role of the National Human Rights Commission?
The National Human Rights Commission has the following roles:
- It makes recommendations in the sector of Human Rights.
- The Commission enjoys great material authority; no government can ignore it.
- The Commission presents its annual report to the Union and the state government.
Restrictions of the Commission
- The members of the Commission are not eligible for employment under the central or state government after completion of tenure.
- Its suggestions are generally recommendatory.
- It cannot help any victim by monetary support.
- Its jurisdiction is limited to the violation of human rights only.
Features of Human Rights Amendment Act, 2006
An amendment was made in Parliament related to the National Human Rights Commission. The act changes the following features:
- The Act reduced the number of members of the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC).
- The Act changed the eligibility criteria for the SHRC members.
- The Act empowers the NHRC to recommend the award of compensation.
- It enabled NHRC to transfer complaints received to the concerned SHRC.
- The Act empowers the NHRC to visit jails without intimation of the state governments.
A Way Forward
Human rights are the fundamental rights of a citizen. Moreover, a statutory body like the National Human Rights Commission helps citizens guard and ensure their rights. Till now, 2021, the National Human Rights Commission has taken up various human rights issues like,
- Abolition of Bonded Labour
- Rights of the Disabled Persons
- Harassment of Women Passengers in Trains
- Abolition of Child Labour
- Issue of Child Marriage
The government should constitutionalize the National Human Rights Commission to make it more powerful; this will help the body contribute more to the nation’s development.