December 4, 2022

National Human Rights Commission- Constitution, Function and Procedure

Prepared by- The Lawmatics Team

National Human Rights Commission is one of the most important organization which is working for human right watch in India. The effectiveness of the commission may be discussed later but the existence of the commission still gives the assurance to the citizens that there is some help if police and other government agencies turn them away from seeking justice.

National Human Rights Commission was established in 12th October, 1993, after the parliament passed ‘Human Rights Protection Act, 1993’ for establishing the Commission. This act provided for the constitution of a National Human Rights Commission, State Human Rights Commissions in States and Human Rights Courts for better protection of human rights.

Meaning of ‘Human Rights’

The act gives the definition of ‘Human Rights’ under (d) of Section 2, as under-

“(d) “Human Rights” means the rights relating to

  • life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual
  • guaranteed by the Constitution or
  • embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India;”

National Human Rights Commission

Constitution

The central government has the power to constitute the ‘National Human Rights Commission.

Members

The Commission consists the member-

(a) a Chairperson who has been a Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court;

(b) one Member who is, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court;

(c) one Member who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of a High Court;

(d) three Members out of which at least one shall be a woman to be appointed from amongst persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights.

So basically, Commission will have a chairperson, Supreme Court Judge, Chief Justice of High Court and three other members. (6 Members)

However, no sitting Judge of the Supreme Court or sitting Chief Justice of a High Court shall be appointed except after consultation with the Chief Justice of India.

Besides abovementioned members, The Chairpersons of the

  • the National Commission for Backward Classes,
  • the National Commission for Minorities,
  • the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights,
  • the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes,
  • the National Commission for the Scheduled Tribes and
  • the National Commission for Women and
  • the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities,

shall be deemed to be Members of the Commission for the discharge of functions.

The process of Appointment

The Chairperson and the Members shall be appointed by the President. And these appointments shall be made after obtaining the recommendations of the committee. This committee shall have the following members-

(a) the Prime Minister —chairperson;

(b) Speaker of the House of the People —member;

(c) Home Minister of India —member;

(d) Leader of the Opposition in the House of the People —member;

(e) Leader of the Opposition in the Council of States —member;

(f) Deputy Chairman of the Council of States —member:

Resignation and Removal

The Chairperson or any Member may, by notice in writing under his hand addressed to the President of India, resign his office.

But, they may be remove from their offices, by order of the president, on the ground of ‘Proved misbehaviour or incapacity’.

The president, may also remove the members and chairperson from their office, if s/he,

(a) is adjudged an insolvent; or

(b) engages during his term of office in any paid employment outside the duties of his office; or

(c) is unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body; or

(d) is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court; or

(e) is convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for an offence which in the opinion of the President involves moral turpitude.

Term

Term of office of Chairperson and Members. —

A person appointed as Chairperson or member, shall hold office for a term of three years from the date on which he enters upon his office or until he attains the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier and shall be eligible for re-appointment.

On ceasing to hold office, a Chairperson or a Member shall be ineligible for further employment under the Government of India or under the Government of any State.

Therefore, before the age of seventy years, they may be reappointed as member of chairperson but they will not be entitled to hold office after ceasing a member of chairperson of the commission.

Function of the Commission

As per the act, the Commission shall perform all or any of the following functions, namely: —

(a) inquire, suo motu or on a petition presented to it by a victim or any person on his behalf or on a direction or order of any court, into complaint of—

(i) violation of human rights or abetment thereof; 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, any jail or other institution under the control of the State Government, where persons are detained or lodged for purposes of treatment, reformation or protection, for the study of the living conditions of the inmates thereof and make recommendations thereon to the Government;

(d) review the safeguards provided 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 organisations and institutions working in the field of human rights;

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

Procedure

The Commission while inquiring into the complaints of violations of human rights may—

call for information or report from the Central Government or any State Government or any other authority or organisation subordinate thereto within such time as may be specified by it:

And, if the information or report is not received within the time stipulated by the Commission, it may proceed to inquire into the complaint on its own;

if, on receipt of information or report, the Commission is satisfied either that no further inquiry is required or that the required action has been initiated or taken by the concerned Government or authority, it may not proceed with the complaint and inform the complainant accordingly.

Steps during and after inquiry

The Commission may take any of the following steps during or upon the completion of an inquiry held under this Act, namely: —

(a) where the inquiry discloses the commission of violation of human rights or negligence in the prevention of violation of human rights or abetment thereof by a public servant, it may recommend to the concerned Government or authority—

(i) to make payment of compensation or damages to the complainant or to the victim or the members of his family as the Commission may consider necessary;

(ii) to initiate proceedings for prosecution or such other suitable action as the Commission may deem fit against the concerned person or persons;

(iii) to take such further action as it may think fit;

(b) approach the Supreme Court or the High Court concerned for such directions, orders or writs as that Court may deem necessary;

(c) recommend to the concerned Government or authority at any stage of the inquiry for the grant of such immediate interim relief to the victim or the members of his family as the Commission may consider necessary.

Reference

The protection of Human Rights Act, 1993