National Human Rights Commission:Composition and Functions

The National Human Rights Commission was established in the year 1993 by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 passed by the Parliament. It must be headed by the retired chief justice of India.

National Human Rights Commission:

The National Human Rights Commission is responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights in India. The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 states that the commission is the protector of "rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants".

Composition of NHRC:

NHRC comprises of a chairman and four members. The chairman should be retired chief justice of India. The other members should be

(i) One Member who is, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court of India

(ii) One Member who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of a High Court

(iii) two Members to be appointed from among persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters related to human rights

Apart from these members, the Chairpersons of National Commission for Minorities, National Commission for SCs, National Commission for STs and National Commission for Women serve as ex officio members.

President appoints the chairperson and members of the NHRC on the recommendation of a six-member committee consisting of

(i) The Prime Minister (Chairperson)

(ii) The Home Minister

(iii) The Speaker of the Lok Sabha

(iv)The Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha

(v) The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha

(vi)The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha

Functions of NHRC:

According to the protection of the Human Rights Act, 1993, below are the functions of NHRC:

(a) Inquire suo motu or on a petition presented to it, by a victim, or any person on his be into a complaint of a violation of human rights or negligence in the prevention of such violation by a public servant.
(b) Intervene in any proceeding involving any allegation of violation of human rights before a Court with the approval of such Court.
(c) Visit any jail or detention places to study the living conditions of the inmates and make recommendations thereon
(d) Review the safeguards provided by or under the constitution of any law for the time being in force for the protection of human rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation.
(e) Review the factors, including acts of terrorism that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend appropriate remedial measures.
(f) Undertake and promote research in the field of human rights.
(g) Spread human rights literacy among various sections of society and promote awareness of the safeguards available for the protection of these rights.
(h) Encourage the efforts of Non-Governmental organizations and institutions working in the field of human rights.
(j) Undertake such other functions as it may consider necessary for the promotion of human rights.

Working of the NHRC

Headquarter of the commission is located at Delhi.

• The commission is vested with the power to regulate its own procedure.
• It has all the powers of a civil court and its proceedings have a judicial character.
• It may call for information or report from the central or any state government or any other authority subordinate thereto.

However, the commission has its own staff to investigate complaints of human rights violations. It is also empowered to utilize the services of any officer or investigating agency of the central government or any state government for the purpose. The commission also cooperates with various NGOs for information regarding human rights violations.

The commission can look into a matter within one year of its occurrence.

The commission may take any of the following steps during or upon the completion of an inquiry:

1. It may recommend to the concerned government or authority to make payment of compensation or damages to the victim;
2. It may recommend to the concerned government or authority the initiation of proceedings for prosecution or any action against the guilty public servant;
3. It may recommend to the concerned government or authority for the grant of immediate interim relief to the victim;
4. It may approach to the Supreme Court or the high court concerned for the necessary directions, orders or writs.

In order to make NHRC more effective, its powers could be increased in various ways to increase its effectiveness and efficiency in delivering justice to the victims. The commission should be empowered to provide interim and immediate relief including monetary relief to the victim. In addition, the commission should be empowered to punish the violators of human rights, which may act as a deterrent to such acts in the future.

The interference of the government and other authorities in the working of commission should be minimum, as it may influence the working of commission. Therefore, the NHRC should be given the power to investigate into the cases related to human rights violations by the members of the armed forces.

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