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National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Functions, Chairman

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

Context: The Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), based in Geneva, has deferred the accreditation of the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) for the second consecutive year. This decision could impact India’s participation rights at the UN Human Rights Council and some UN General Assembly bodies.

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  1. Reasons for Deferral: While the official report detailing reasons for the accreditation deferral is still awaited, it is suspected that issues of transparency and inadequate minority representation among the NHRC members are significant factors.
  2. Historical Context: This is the first time India’s NHRC has had its accreditation deferred two years in a row, previously occurring in 2023 and now in 2024. Previously, a similar deferral occurred only once before, in 2017.
  3. Concerns from Civil Society: Civil society organizations and human rights activists raised concerns about India’s human rights record to the GANHRI, influencing this decision.
  4. NHRC’s Compliance Issues: According to a six-point submission by the SCA in March 2023, the NHRC has failed to create conditions that are free from “government interference,” a stipulation necessary for retaining its ‘A’ status.

The National Human Rights Commission is an important part of Indian Polity which is an important subject in the UPSC Syllabus. Students can also go for the UPSC Mock Test to get more accuracy in their preparations.

About National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

In India, the National Human Rights Commission, an independent statutory organisation, is responsible for monitoring violations of human rights. The Protection of Human Rights Act of 1993, which was later revised by the Protection of Human Rights Amendment Act of 2006, established the National Human Rights Commission, often known as NHRC, on October 12, 1993. It symbolises India’s commitment to advancing and safeguarding human rights.

History of NHRC

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10 in Paris. The protection of human rights was advanced through this action, which proved to be a turning point in human history.
  • Soon after that, in 1991, National Human Rights Institutions, or NHRIs as they are more commonly known, introduced the Paris Principles. These principles were endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 1993, and India also passed the Human Rights Protection Act that year.
  • The National Human Rights Commission’s first foundation was set at this time. Large organisations began to recognise the value of protecting human rights, which led to the UN’s acceptance of the Paris Principles.
  • In line with these principles, India advanced and welcomed the creation of the Human Rights Act in 1993. Even the state governments in India were permitted and compelled to establish the Human Rights Commission by the higher court and the constitution.

Composition and Qualifications of NHRC Members

Despite not being a constitutional body, the NHRC is made up of respectable individuals. Twelve other working members and a chairperson make up the NHRC Composition. Additionally, there are two groups of these 12 NHRC Members: five full-time members and seven considered Members.

NHRC Composition and Qualifications
Chairperson Must be a former Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court.
Five Members One must be or have been a Judge of the Supreme Court.
One must be or have been a Chief Justice of a High Court.
Three members should have knowledge of or practical experience in human rights issues, with at least one being a woman.
Seven Deemed Members

Appointment Process of NHRC Members

To be appointed as a member of the National Human Rights Commission, several requirements must be met. A selection committee acting on behalf of the NHRC makes recommendations for candidates to the Indian president. As the NHRC is crucial to the growth of the nation, the selection committee for the nomination of its members is carefully chosen. This selection panel consists of:

  • Prime Minister
  • Speaker of the Lok Sabha
  • Minister of Home Affairs
  • Leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha
  • Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha


The Chairperson or the Members of the National Human Rights Commission hold office for a term of 3 years or until they attain the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.

Removal Ground for NHRC Members

The chairperson or any member can be removed by the President due to proven misbehaviour or incapacity following a Supreme Court inquiry. Removal may also occur if the individual:

  • Becomes insolvent.
  • Engages in paid employment outside their duties during their term.
  • Is deemed unfit due to mental or physical infirmity.
  • Is declared of unsound mind by a competent court.
  • Is convicted and sentenced for an offence that, in the opinion of the President, involves moral turpitude.

Functions of NHRC

  • Inquiry into Violations: Investigates complaints about human rights breaches, abetment, or negligence by public servants.
  • Court Intervention: Can intervene in court proceedings involving human rights allegations with the court’s approval.
  • Institution Visits: Inspects jails and other state-controlled facilities to assess and recommend improvements for the living conditions of inmates.
  • Review of Safeguards: Reviews constitutional and legal protections for human rights and suggests ways for their effective implementation.
  • Addressing Inhibitors: Examines issues like terrorism that impact human rights enjoyment and proposes suitable corrective actions.
  • Treaty Studies: Analyses international human rights treaties and instruments to offer recommendations.
  • Human Rights Research: Conducts and promotes research in the human rights field.
  • Promoting Awareness: Enhances human rights awareness and literacy through education and public outreach.
  • Supporting NGOs: Supports the activities of non-governmental organisations and institutions working to advance human rights.

Powers of NHRC

  • Civil Court Powers: Possesses the same powers as a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, during investigations, including summoning witnesses, document production, and evidence reception.
  • Compensation Recommendation: Authorised to recommend compensation for victims of human rights violations.
  • Legal Enforcement: Can approach the Supreme Court or High Court to enforce human rights protections.
  • Suo Moto Cognizance: Empowered to independently recognize and act on human rights violations without needing a formal complaint.

Amendment of Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill

Amended by the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2006, and Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2019.

Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill 2019
Eligibility for Chairperson The amendment made a person who has been a Judge of the Supreme Court eligible to be appointed as Chairperson of the NHRC, in addition to the person who has been the Chief Justice of India.
Increase in Members The number of members of the commission with knowledge of human rights issues was increased from two to three, with at least one member required to be a woman.
Deemed Members The Chairperson of the National Commission for Backward Classes, the Chairperson of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities were included as deemed Members of the Commission.
Term of Office The term of the Chairperson and Members of the Commission and the State Commissions was reduced from five to three years, and they are now eligible for re-appointment.
Eligibility for State Commission Chairperson A person who has been a Judge of the High Court is also made eligible to be appointed as Chairperson of the State Commission, in addition to the person who has been the Chief Justice of the High Court.
Powers of Secretary-General The Secretary-General of the NHRC and the Secretary of a State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) can exercise all administrative and financial powers, subject to the respective chairperson’s control.
Union Territories The amendment conferred upon State Commissions the functions relating to human rights being discharged by Union territories, except for the Union territory of Delhi, which will be dealt with by the NHRC.

National Human Rights Committee Limitations

When looking into the alleged encounter deaths in Manipur, former Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu himself referred to the NHRC as a helpless organisation and a “toothless tiger” since it lacked the necessary resources to handle such matters. The NHRC has no power to impose decisions; it may only issue recommendations. The judgement can also be rejected outright as a result of this lack of authority to ensure compliance.

It lacks impartial investigating tools. According to the Protection of Human Rights Act of 1993, human rights commissioners are not allowed to look into an incident if a complaint is made more than a year after it happened. As a result, a significant number of valid complaints go unaddressed.

A lot of judges, police officers, and politically powerful bureaucrats saw it as a place to retire to. The work of the commission is further impeded by ineffective bureaucracy and a lack of funding. Due to its inability to grant redress, it can only ask the authorities to go before higher courts to help the victims. The responsible authority shall implement its suggestions or explain its reasons therefor within one month.

National Human Rights Commission Features

The Human Rights Commission of India was established by the Indian government to preserve some rights essential for a high standard of living, including the right to liberty, equality, freedom from slavery, freedom of speech, etc.

Today, everyone is allowed to live with a certain level of dignity. Therefore, to uphold the dignity of human life, the National Human Rights Commission was established to defend their rights and provide them with a quality of life. These rights, which are protected by the Indian constitution, are upheld by higher courts in India. The fundamental rights are protected by the Constitution. Both the NHRC and the Paris Principle of Human Rights were established in 1991. It is followed by the NHRC. This topic was endorsed in 1993 by the UN General Assembly.

About Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions

Aspect Details
Origin Founded in 1993 in Tunis, Tunisia as the International Coordinating Committee; renamed GANHRI in 2016.
Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland
Vision Aims for a world where everyone fully enjoys their human rights.
Tripartite Partnership Collaborates with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to strengthen National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) globally.
Membership Consists of 115 NHRIs from all regions of the world.
Unique Feature Only non-UN body with an accreditation system based on 1993 Paris Principles giving access to the UN.
Paris Principles Set of international standards for NHRIs, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1993.
Accreditation Rating Managed by a subcommittee with an A-status NHRI representative from each regional network.
Sub-Committee on Accreditation Handles peer review for initial accreditation and re-accreditation every five years.
Status Descriptions
  • A Status: Full compliance with Paris Principles, can vote and hold office.
  • B Status: Partial compliance, can attend meetings but no voting or office holding.

National Human Rights Commission UPSC

The NHRC’s authority could be increased in a number of ways to increase its effectiveness and efficiency in the process of bringing victims of human rights violations to justice. The NHRC needs to be given authority and must be free from political and administrative interference in order to efficiently carry out its duties. It must be given the discretion to make choices that will actually and significantly affect the situation. Students can read all the details related to UPSC by visiting the official website of StudyIQ UPSC Online Coaching.

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Who is the current chairman of Human Rights Commission?

Arun Kumar Mishra is the current chairman of the National Human Rights Commission.

What is National human right Commission in human rights?

The National Human Rights Commission or NHRC is a standalone entity of the Government of India with the mission of promoting and protecting human rights.

What is the address of Human Rights Commission in India?

The National Human Rights Commission has shifted its office premises from Sardar Patel Bhawan, Parliament Street, New Delhi - 110 001 to Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi - 110 001.

Which ministry is the National Human Rights Commission in India?

Ministry of Home Affairs

How many members are in NHRC?

The Commission consists of a Chairperson, five full-time Members and seven deemed Members.

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