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“Watch-dogs of Human Rights”

Breaking Down the Basics

  • The National Human Rights Commission, or NHRC of India is an independent public Statutory body that was constituted on 12th October 1993.

  • It was established in conformity with the Paris Principles (UN Human Rights Principles) under the statute of Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993 as amended by the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2006.
    The Act defined human rights as “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.”

  • The duty of promoting and protecting human rights lies with the NHRC.

Current Affairs POI – H. L. Dattu, former Chief Justice of India is the current chairperson of the commission, and is expected to demit office by December 2020 having held the position since February 2016.

  • It is one of the few National Human Rights Institutes (NHRIs) in the world whose Chairperson is the former Chief Justice of the country.

  • It is responsible for and partakes in:
    Spreading of human rights awareness amongst the masses;
    Encouraging the efforts of all stake holders in the field of human rights literacy.

Powers and Functions

According to The Protection of Human Rights Act, the commission has the following functions:

  • Inquiring into violations of human rights by government of India or negligence of such violation by a public servant.

  • Protection of human rights, reccommendation of measures for their effective implementation.

  • Human rights education among various sections of society:
    promote awareness of the safeguards available for the protection of these rights through publications, the media, seminars and other available means.

  • Review of the factors, including acts of terrorism that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend appropriate remedial measures.

  • Study treaties and other international instruments on human rights and make recommendations for their effective implementation.

  • Undertake and promote research in the field of human rights.

  • To visit jails, study the condition of inmates and make required recommendations.

  • Encourage the efforts of NGOs and institutions congress to working in the field of human rights.

  • Requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office.

NHRC enjoys certain powers being an independent Statutory body.

  • The NHRC possesses the powers of a civil court.
    It can grant interim relief.

  • Free from influence, it takes an independent stand in matters related to human rights.

  • Annually reports to the President but can make recommendations to both Central and State Governments.

Composition and Appointment


Terms of Service


Current Affairs POI –

The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019

  • Term of Office is reduced to 3 years, or till the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.

  • Previous 5-year limit on reappointment is removed.

  • Functions relating to human rights in the case of Delhi will be dealt with by the NHRC.

  • Central government may confer on a SHRC human rights functions being discharged by Union Territories.

  • Allows the Secretary-General and Secretary to exercise all administrative and financial powers (except judicial functions), subject to the respective chairperson’s control [previously it just provided for a Secretary-Generals of NHRCs and SHRCs who exercise powers as may be delegated to them.]

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