From the Government’s side, the NHRC Commission is an embodiment of India’s concern for the protection of human rights. In a note circulated by the Ministry of Home Affairs, three specific objectives of the establishment of the NHRC were mentioned. These are
- To strengthen the institutional arrangements through which human rights issues could be addressed in their entirety in a more focused manner.
- To look into allegations of excesses independently of the government, in a manner that would underline the government’s commitment to protect human rights.
- To complement and strengthen the efforts that have already been made in the direction.
The Act itself states its objectives as to “provide for the constitution of the National and State Human Rights Commissions and Human Rights Courts for better protection of human rights and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”
However, the credibility of the NHRC cannot be defined simply in terms of the Commission’s own stated goals- doing that would undermine the vast roles the NHRC is supposed to play. Thus, the credibility of the NHRC should be weighed in the Commission’s effectiveness, efficiency and Indian people’s confidence in Commission’s functioning and capacity.
Of course, the Commission has fulfilled though partially what the Act promised to constitute National and State Human Rights Commissions and Human Rights Courts. But the other promise, ‘for better protection of human rights and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto’, needs further re-examination and re-assessment.
The National Human Rights Commission undoubtedly has some laudable achievements to its credit. The Commission has taken up many important cases for the better protection and promotion of human rights in the country. Some important cases the Commission took up include the following:
- Custodial Deaths
- Police Excesses (Torture, Illegal Detention/Unlawful Arrest, False Implication etc.
- Fake Encounters
- Cases related to Women and Children
- Atrocities on Dalits/ Members of Minority Community/ Disabled
- Bonded Labour
- Armed Forces/ Paramilitary Forces, etc
Human Rights Amendment Act, 2006
The Parliament has passed the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2006. The main amendments carried out in the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, relate to the following issues:
The Commission shall have the power to lay down by regulations its own procedure.
Where the Commission considers it necessary or expedient so to do, it may, by order, transfer any complaint filed or pending before it to the State Commission of the State from which the complaint arises, for disposal in accordance with the provisions of the Act, provided that no such complaint shall be transferred unless the same is one respecting which the State Commission has jurisdiction to entertain the same.
Every complaint transferred shall be dealt with and disposed of by the State Government as if it were a complaint initially filed before it.
The Commission may take any of the following steps during or upon the completion of an inquiry held under the Act, namely:-
- 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:
- 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.
- To initiate proceedings for prosecution or such other suitable action as the Commission may deem fit against the concerned person or persons.
- To take such further action as it may think fit.
- Approach the Supreme Court or the High Court concerned for such directions, orders or writs as that Court may deem necessary.
- 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.
- Provide a copy of the inquiry report to the petitioner or his representative.
- The Commission shall send a copy of its inquiry report together with its recommendations to the concerned Government or authority and the Government or authority shall, within a period of one month, or such further time as the Commission may allow, forward its comments on the report, including the action taken or proposed to be taken thereon, to the Commission.
- The Commission shall publish its inquiry report together with the comments of the concerned Government or authority, if any, and the action taken or proposed to be taken by the concerned Government or authority on the recommendations of the Commission.