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 (NHRC) 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".

On July 8, 2019, the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah. This bill proposes amendments to the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 established the NHRC, State Human Rights Commissions (SHRC), and Human Rights Courts.

Composition of NHRC:

As per the amendment of 2019, the chairperson of the NHRC must be a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or a Supreme Court Judge.

NHRC comprises of a chairman, five full-time members, and seven deemed members. 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.

Here is the table of the current members of the NHRC:



Who appoints the chairman of NHRC?

The President appoints the chairperson and members of the NHRC on the recommendation of a committee chaired by the Prime Minister of India. 

Functions of NHRC:

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

a) Inquire, on its own initiative 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;

b) intervene in any proceeding involving any allegation of violation of human rights pending before a court with the approval of such court;

c) 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;

d) 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;

e) review the factors, including acts of terrorism that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend appropriate remedial measures;

f) study treaties and other international instruments on human rights and make recommendations for their effective implementation;

g) undertake and promote research in the field of human rights;

h) 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;

i) encourage the efforts of non - Governmental organizations and institutions working in the field of human rights;

j) such other functions as it may consider necessary for the promotion of human rights.

Working of the NHRC

  • According to Section 2(1)(d) of the Protection of Human Rights (PHR) Act, human rights are defined as the rights related to an individual's life, liberty, equality, and dignity guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in international covenants that are enforceable by courts in India.
  • The headquarter of the commission is located in New Delhi.
  • The primary function of the Commission is to disseminate knowledge of human rights to the general public and encourage all stakeholders in the area of human rights education, not just at the national level, but also at a global level.
  • It deals with complaints of human rights violations submitted by individuals, groups, or organizations.
  • Complaints are registered and investigated, and if found to have substance, the Commission can recommend prosecution or relief for victims.
  • The investigative team is headed by the Director General of Police (DGI). 
  • It also has the authority to enlist the assistance of any officer or investigative agency belonging to either the Central or State Government, to aid in their investigations.
  • If complaints are related to the armed forces, the Commission calls for a report from the central government and may make recommendations. Non-governmental organizations may also be involved in investigations.
This is how the NHRC works. we hope that through this article, readers can get a simplified overview of the National Humans Rights Commission of India and how it works. 

GK Questions and Answers on the National Human Right Commission



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