LIMITED ROLE OF HRC IN INDIA by Vaishali Sharma

Introduction


"The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened."

-John F. Kennedy


The protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 provides for the constitution of a National Human Rights Commissions, State Human Rights Commissions in State and Human Rights Courts for better protection of human rights and matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The NHRC of India is an autonomous public body constituted on 12 October 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Ordinance of 28 September 1993. It was given a statutory basis by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (TPHRA). NHRC was constituted under Section 3 of the 1993 Act for better protection of human rights. The term 'human rights' is defined in Section 2(d) of the 1993 Act, which reads as follows:

"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."

Features of NHRC are-

It is autonomous i.e. it has been created by an Act of Parliament.

NHRC provides separate and independent rulings and suggestions within the purview of the Constitution for the protection of human rights.


NHRC has equal status and position as of a Civil Court.


Power to grant interim relief.


Power to recommend payment of compensation and damages.

The protection of human rights plays a significant role in the development of a nation's growth and productivity. It also affects the socio-economic condition of that country. The growth of a country can be recognised by the effectiveness of the law prevailing for the protection of its citizens. In a country like India, where the crime rate is increasing day-by-day, should have a commission for protection of human rights which have a binding and effective force upon the society. Today, HRCs can give recommendations which don't have a binding effect. Despite being in such an important position, HRC can only give recommendations which goes unheard several times. It is the time to review this act and make the role of HRCs more effective by giving them the power to make their decisions binding in nature.

The commission has been subject to numerous issues. There has been a lot of lacunas and loopholes which makes the functioning of the commission less effective and comes in the way of proper implementation of recommendations passed by them. One of the hurdles in altering the existing provision of this act lies within this lacuna only. The problem regarding commission is that they must operate in many remote areas which require resources. They didn't get the required amount of resources which causes improper functioning of the commission. One of the issues in the commission is that most of the HRCs have less than a prescribed number of Members. If the prevailing provisions cannot be followed by the commission, then how come the next step i.e. to make alterations in the existing statute will be provided. Strict hierarchies are maintained, which often makes it difficult for complainants to obtain documents or information about the status of their cases.


Historical background

The concept of human rights is very ancient, and it can be observed in religious, cultural, legal and philosophical aspect and their development. It can be observed in almost all stages of mankind, there has been a human rights document in one form or the other in existence. One of the notable documents is the Edicts of Ashoka issued by Ashoka the Great of India between 273-231 BC and the Constitution of Medina of 622 AD, drafted by Muhammad to mark a formal agreement between all the significant tribes and families of Yathrib (later known as Medina). However, the emergence of the actual protection of human rights evolved after the two world wars took place. Before world war, there was not much codification done either at the national or the international levels for the protection and implantation of human rights.

The UN Commission on Human Rights formulated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). UDHR was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. Although the UDHR was a non-binding resolution, it is now considered to have acquired the force of international customary which may be invoked in appropriate circumstances by national and other judiciaries. The UDHR urges member nations to promote several human, civil, economic and social rights. The adoption of the Universal Declaration is a significant international commemoration marked each year on 10 December and is known as Human Rights Day or International Human Rights Day. The theme of this year's Human Rights Day – "Human Rights 365" encompasses the idea that every day is Human Rights Day, and everybody always is entitled to the full range of human rights.

The international community has recognised the growing importance of strengthening national human rights institutions. In this context, in the year 1991 an UN-sponsored meeting of representatives of national institutions held in Paris, a detailed set of principles on the status of national institutions was developed, these are commonly known as the Paris Principles. These principles became the foundation for the establishment and operation of national human rights institutions.

In the wake of these developments, India, enacted the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, intending to bring about greater accountability and strengthen the dominion of human rights in the country. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was established on October 12, 1993. Its statute is contained in the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, and conforms with the Paris Principles. States, 23 of them, have set up their human rights commissions under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 to deal with violations from within their states.

Composition of the Human Rights Commission

Section 3 of the Act lays down that the Commission shall consist of:

A Chairperson

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

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

Two Members to be appointed from among persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights

In addition, the Chairpersons of four National Commissions of (1. Minorities 2.SC 3.ST 4. Women) serve as ex officio members.

Appointment and Removal

The Chairperson and the Members of the Commission are appointed by the President of India, on the recommendations of a committee consisting of:

The Prime Minister (Chairperson)

The Home Minister

The leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha

The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha

The Speaker of the Lok Sabha

The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha

The chairman and members hold office for a term of five years or until they attain the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.

After their tenure, the chairman and members are not eligible for further employment under the central or state government.

The president can remove the chairman or any member from the office under certain circumstances.


National Human Rights Commission investigates the matters that come in its jurisdiction or the cases which are transferred by the State Human Rights Commission to NHRC. It has been observed by eminent jurists that the commission doesn't get enough resources and funds to operate in remote areas. With that amount of resources, there is limited access as well as many more hindrances faced by the commission. The evidence collected is put to forensic judicial adjudication by its Chairman and Members, who are former judges. But at last, when the commission arrives at finding, it can only recommend remedial measures or direct the state concerned to pay compensation. Now, it is the time for the Government to make alterations in the current statute regarding human rights to give recommendations into some effective order or decision. The reason for such change is that these recommendations are passed by persons who had long training and experience as a judge of the Supreme Court and High Courts.


India is one of the largest democracies in the world. The population of this country is also growing alarmingly. It is obvious that with having such a huge number of citizens the socio-economic problems and infringement of individual's rights are also subject to protection. Having an independent and effective committee which can protect the human rights of the individual is necessary to maintain the belief of its citizens into the Constitution and legal system of the nation. The Government must safeguard its citizen's rights and protect as much as they can. The citizens of a country are nothing but a reflection of that nation. And if they are unable to believe in the justice system of their own country then the country cannot develop in its full potential. Today, one of the reasons for lagging of the judiciary is its inability to protect the basic human rights of its citizens. To rebuild that faith in the judiciary system among its citizens it is necessary to implement the orders passed by the human rights commission.



Case Laws


D.K. Basu etc. V. State of West Bengal, (1997) 1 SCC 416,


Deaths in police custody. This Court noted that although a violation of one or the other of the human rights has been the subject matter of several Conventions and Declarations and although commitments have been made to eliminate the scourge of custodial torture, yet gruesome incidents of such torture continue unabated. The court described `custodial torture' as a naked violation of human dignity and degradation that destroys the self-esteem of the victim and does not even spare his personality. Custodial torture observed the Court is a calculated assault on human dignity and whenever human dignity is wounded, civilisation takes a step backwards. The Court relied upon the Report of the Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure and the Third Report of the National Police Commission in India to hold that despite recommendations for banishing torture from the investigative system, growing incidence of torture and deaths in police custody come back to haunt.


Bibliography

http://nhrc.nic.in/dispArchive.asp?fno=13798 , visited on- 29/10/2017, 3:35 PM

https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2012/country-chapters/india , 29/10/2017, 3:35 PM

http://www.insightsonindia.com/2016/07/09/insights-editorial-toothless-tiger-nhrc-needs-powers-apex-court/ 29/10/2017, 3:58 PM

http://forumias.com/portal/nhrc-composition-functions-role-safeguarding-human-rights/ , 30/10/2017, 6:25 PM

http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/article/historical-development-of-human-rights-138-1.html 1/11/2017, 12:02 PM, by- Faisal, published- May 05,2010

http://courtnic.nic.in/supremecourt/temp/wr%2053986p.txt 2/11/2017, 7:30 PM

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