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Overview:

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is an autonomous body that hears complaints and allegations of human rights violations according to the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. The act, signed into law on October 12, 1993, also created the NHRC. Section 2 of the Act defines “human rights” as the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed under the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.

 

The NHRC core consists of a chairperson (a former Supreme Court Chief Justice), a current/former Supreme Court judge, current/former Chief Justice of a High Court and two human rights specialists.  Additional members include the chairpersons of the National Commission for Minorities, the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the National Commission for Women. The Secretary-General is the chief executive officer of the commission.

more
History:

After World War II, there was a global greater emphasis on human rights. From 1991’s Paris Principles to the 1993 UN General Assembly there was a call for “independent, accountable and accessible” National Human Rights Institutions. At that time India was facing criticism for alleged violations in suppressing domestic insurgencies Punjab, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir.  Due to domestic and international pressure, the government of India created The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, which included a provision for the Nark’s creation.

 

Since its creation, the NHRC has been criticized as ineffective, charges leveled at other similar bodies aimed at protecting the equality enshrined in India's constitution. Like similar bodies—National Commissions on Minorities, Women and Scheduled Castes and Tribes – the NHRC is primarily an advisory and not a statutory body. As a result, it lacks the teeth to mete out appropriate punishment when human rights in India are violated.

 

NHRC's ineffectiveness is exacerbated by its mandate, which doesn't allow it to investigate violations by the military or security forces, the ostensible reasons for its creation.

 

In a 2004 report called National Human Rights Commission Of India: Time To Stand Up And Speak Out, the Delhi-based Asian Pacific Human Rights Network charged that the body's selection process is opaque, which leads to patronage appointments of yes men who are unlikely to challenge the status quo. 

 

Supreme Court lawyer Colin Gonsalves of the Human Rights Law Network worries that the commission does not mandate that each state have a separate human rights commission. As a result, India's capital Delhi doesn't have a commission, despite being a hotbed of child labor and communal and caste-based violence.

more
What it Does:

The NHRC inquires about allegation of human rights violations and prevention negligence, makes recommendations on how to implement international safeguards and promotes awareness of human rights.

 

The NHRC has all the powers of a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 such as summoning/questioning witnesses and requisitioning public records.  It has its own investigative team headed by a Director General of Police.  It cannot independently investigate allegations against the military and security forces though.

more
Where Does the Money Go:

The NHRC develops its own budget which is presented to both Houses of Parliament.  After Parliamentary approval, the central government will then give grants to the NHRC. Accounting records are expected to be kept. The commission is audited by the Comptroller and Auditor-General.

more
Controversies:

Retention of NHRC “A” Status in Accreditation

In April 2012, NHRC renewed its “A” status with the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) of the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs).  This status is given to the NHRIs that are fully compliant with the “Paris Principles” towards the promotion and protection of human rights.

 

The NHRC, however, failed to publicly mention that keeping their “A” came with stringent conditions echoing civil society’s concerns.  Also the accreditation panel had many concerns (e.g., The secretary general and director general of investigations lack independence come from deputation within the government and little engagement with human rights defenders) so it appears the “A” is based more on India’s growing diplomatic clout than merit.

 

Amnesty International’s 2012 report on India portrays a country more focused on economic growth than protecting human rights.  The report notes that human rights defenders were charged with sedition and other politically motivated charges. At least four were killed.

 

NHRC Retains ‘A' Status (by J Venkatesan, The Hindu)

India's Clout Ensures UN Status for NHRC (by Manoj Mitta, Times of India)

Annual Report 2012: India (Amnesty International)

 

Balakrishnan Accused of corruption

The current chairperson, Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, faced corruption charges. A petition came before the Supreme Court from campaigner Prashant Bushan, aiming to dismiss him as head of National Human Rights Commission. The petition alleged that as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Balakrishnan knew that former Union minister A. Raja interfered with a case and that he also approved false RTI replies understating the assets of judges.  Additionally, there was “spectacular” increase in his and his family’s assets disproportionate to income. His son-in-law in 2006 claimed to have no land, but in 2010 owned property worth hundreds of thousands of crores.  Prashant Bushan filed the plea in January 2012.  No decision has been reached.

 

Ex-CJI's Son Amasses Property In Four Years (Deccan Herald)

CBDT To Probe Ex-CJI Balakrishnan's Assets (CNN-IBN)

Ex-CJI Assets: SC Asks Govt About Action Taken (Press Trust of India, The Statesman)

Plea Filed In SC Against Former CJI K G Balakrishnan (Indian Express)

 

 

NHRC Fails to Protect Murdered Journalist's Family

In 1999 Indian Express journalist Shivani Bhatnagar was murdered and high-ranking Indian Administrative Service officials were implicated.  The family of the bureaucrat charged alleged the Delhi Police were harassing them and filed a petition for protection with NHRC.  The NHRC turned down their petition, opening the NHRC up to criticisms of its effectiveness at protecting people.

 

Protection is the NHRC's Primary Mandate (by Vineet Gupta, India Together)

NHRC Rejects Madhu Sharma's Plea (The Hindu)

Timeline: Shivani Bhatnagar Murder Case (Times of India)

more
Suggested Reforms:

Give the NHRC Real Teeth

The NHRC presents a positive human rights story about India to the international community but major structural flaws curbs its effectiveness.  The NHRC can only inquire and make recommendations and lacks the authority to enforce decisions. Ability to summon witnesses and documents related alleged violations by the armed forces. Another common complaint is the inability to independently investigate complaints against the military or security forces, summon witnesses or access related documents. Currently, the commission can only requests government reports.  The cops are similarly protected. In a country where the military and police are so often cited for violations by rights groups, the NHRC doesn't have the power to enforce real reforms.

 

Needed: More Effective Human Rights Commissions in India (by Mandeep Tiwana, Access to Justice Program, CHRI) (pdf)

 

Independent Recruitment of Staff

Enshrined in the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, is a provision that members drawn from other government bodies are required to have a proven record of human rights experience, activism or related qualifications.  But those qualifications are vague enough that patronage often trumps qualifications. This is particularly problematic, a report from the South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre notes, when high ranking intelligence officers receive short-term appointments. The same report finds that the regular staff is also underqualified.

 

Wasted Opportunity to Reform India’s NHRC (South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre)

more
Debate:

Is Caste Discrimination akin to Racial Discrimination?  

In a country still healing from colonization, efforts to equate caste-based discrimination with racial discrimination and the exclusionary policies of Western countries are fraught. While caste-based discrimination continues to be the world's largest unreported human rights crisis, much of India's government, press and academy is stacked with members of upper castes. Therefore, the conversation is often constrained.

 

Yes, It Is

Sociologist Andre Beteille claims that while untouchability is reprehensible and must be condemned, caste discrimination should not be considered racial discrimination and is a dangerous road to go down.  He asserts that Scheduled Castes are not a race of people just as the totality of Brahmins are not a race. Further, this opens the door to religious minorities claiming they are victims of racial discrimination.

 

Also, genetic research has not reached a consensus on racial origins to the caste system.  One study found that regionally, Northerners had closer affiliations with Indo-European speaking central Asian groups than did the South, but so did generally higher-ranking caste groups.  Another found that over 98% of the Indian maternal gene pool is more or less uniform.

 

Race and Caste (by Andre Beteille, The Hindu)

Human Genetic History of South Asia (by Partha P. Majumder, Current Biology)

Genetic Affinities Among the Lower Castes and Tribal Groups of India: Inference from Y Chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA (National Center for Biotechnology Information)

 

No, It Is Not

Not equating caste with race is a technical loophole (e.g., there is no “race” of Brahmins per Beteille), but caste itself if hereditary in nature since a person is born into that caste.  It also allows caste-based discrimination to continue since India can avoid its treaty liability under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

 

Summary List of the Critical Issues Pertaining to India’s Periodic Report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Human Rights Watch)

INDIA: The National Human Rights Commission of India is Confused about its Mandate (Asian Legal Resource Centre)

more

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Founded: October 1993
Annual Budget: No set budget, money allotted as needed
Employees: 5 core members
Official Website: http://nhrc.nic.in/
National Human Rights Commission
  • Latest News
Bookmark and Share
Overview:

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is an autonomous body that hears complaints and allegations of human rights violations according to the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. The act, signed into law on October 12, 1993, also created the NHRC. Section 2 of the Act defines “human rights” as the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed under the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.

 

The NHRC core consists of a chairperson (a former Supreme Court Chief Justice), a current/former Supreme Court judge, current/former Chief Justice of a High Court and two human rights specialists.  Additional members include the chairpersons of the National Commission for Minorities, the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the National Commission for Women. The Secretary-General is the chief executive officer of the commission.

more
History:

After World War II, there was a global greater emphasis on human rights. From 1991’s Paris Principles to the 1993 UN General Assembly there was a call for “independent, accountable and accessible” National Human Rights Institutions. At that time India was facing criticism for alleged violations in suppressing domestic insurgencies Punjab, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir.  Due to domestic and international pressure, the government of India created The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, which included a provision for the Nark’s creation.

 

Since its creation, the NHRC has been criticized as ineffective, charges leveled at other similar bodies aimed at protecting the equality enshrined in India's constitution. Like similar bodies—National Commissions on Minorities, Women and Scheduled Castes and Tribes – the NHRC is primarily an advisory and not a statutory body. As a result, it lacks the teeth to mete out appropriate punishment when human rights in India are violated.

 

NHRC's ineffectiveness is exacerbated by its mandate, which doesn't allow it to investigate violations by the military or security forces, the ostensible reasons for its creation.

 

In a 2004 report called National Human Rights Commission Of India: Time To Stand Up And Speak Out, the Delhi-based Asian Pacific Human Rights Network charged that the body's selection process is opaque, which leads to patronage appointments of yes men who are unlikely to challenge the status quo. 

 

Supreme Court lawyer Colin Gonsalves of the Human Rights Law Network worries that the commission does not mandate that each state have a separate human rights commission. As a result, India's capital Delhi doesn't have a commission, despite being a hotbed of child labor and communal and caste-based violence.

more
What it Does:

The NHRC inquires about allegation of human rights violations and prevention negligence, makes recommendations on how to implement international safeguards and promotes awareness of human rights.

 

The NHRC has all the powers of a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 such as summoning/questioning witnesses and requisitioning public records.  It has its own investigative team headed by a Director General of Police.  It cannot independently investigate allegations against the military and security forces though.

more
Where Does the Money Go:

The NHRC develops its own budget which is presented to both Houses of Parliament.  After Parliamentary approval, the central government will then give grants to the NHRC. Accounting records are expected to be kept. The commission is audited by the Comptroller and Auditor-General.

more
Controversies:

Retention of NHRC “A” Status in Accreditation

In April 2012, NHRC renewed its “A” status with the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) of the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs).  This status is given to the NHRIs that are fully compliant with the “Paris Principles” towards the promotion and protection of human rights.

 

The NHRC, however, failed to publicly mention that keeping their “A” came with stringent conditions echoing civil society’s concerns.  Also the accreditation panel had many concerns (e.g., The secretary general and director general of investigations lack independence come from deputation within the government and little engagement with human rights defenders) so it appears the “A” is based more on India’s growing diplomatic clout than merit.

 

Amnesty International’s 2012 report on India portrays a country more focused on economic growth than protecting human rights.  The report notes that human rights defenders were charged with sedition and other politically motivated charges. At least four were killed.

 

NHRC Retains ‘A' Status (by J Venkatesan, The Hindu)

India's Clout Ensures UN Status for NHRC (by Manoj Mitta, Times of India)

Annual Report 2012: India (Amnesty International)

 

Balakrishnan Accused of corruption

The current chairperson, Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, faced corruption charges. A petition came before the Supreme Court from campaigner Prashant Bushan, aiming to dismiss him as head of National Human Rights Commission. The petition alleged that as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Balakrishnan knew that former Union minister A. Raja interfered with a case and that he also approved false RTI replies understating the assets of judges.  Additionally, there was “spectacular” increase in his and his family’s assets disproportionate to income. His son-in-law in 2006 claimed to have no land, but in 2010 owned property worth hundreds of thousands of crores.  Prashant Bushan filed the plea in January 2012.  No decision has been reached.

 

Ex-CJI's Son Amasses Property In Four Years (Deccan Herald)

CBDT To Probe Ex-CJI Balakrishnan's Assets (CNN-IBN)

Ex-CJI Assets: SC Asks Govt About Action Taken (Press Trust of India, The Statesman)

Plea Filed In SC Against Former CJI K G Balakrishnan (Indian Express)

 

 

NHRC Fails to Protect Murdered Journalist's Family

In 1999 Indian Express journalist Shivani Bhatnagar was murdered and high-ranking Indian Administrative Service officials were implicated.  The family of the bureaucrat charged alleged the Delhi Police were harassing them and filed a petition for protection with NHRC.  The NHRC turned down their petition, opening the NHRC up to criticisms of its effectiveness at protecting people.

 

Protection is the NHRC's Primary Mandate (by Vineet Gupta, India Together)

NHRC Rejects Madhu Sharma's Plea (The Hindu)

Timeline: Shivani Bhatnagar Murder Case (Times of India)

more
Suggested Reforms:

Give the NHRC Real Teeth

The NHRC presents a positive human rights story about India to the international community but major structural flaws curbs its effectiveness.  The NHRC can only inquire and make recommendations and lacks the authority to enforce decisions. Ability to summon witnesses and documents related alleged violations by the armed forces. Another common complaint is the inability to independently investigate complaints against the military or security forces, summon witnesses or access related documents. Currently, the commission can only requests government reports.  The cops are similarly protected. In a country where the military and police are so often cited for violations by rights groups, the NHRC doesn't have the power to enforce real reforms.

 

Needed: More Effective Human Rights Commissions in India (by Mandeep Tiwana, Access to Justice Program, CHRI) (pdf)

 

Independent Recruitment of Staff

Enshrined in the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, is a provision that members drawn from other government bodies are required to have a proven record of human rights experience, activism or related qualifications.  But those qualifications are vague enough that patronage often trumps qualifications. This is particularly problematic, a report from the South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre notes, when high ranking intelligence officers receive short-term appointments. The same report finds that the regular staff is also underqualified.

 

Wasted Opportunity to Reform India’s NHRC (South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre)

more
Debate:

Is Caste Discrimination akin to Racial Discrimination?  

In a country still healing from colonization, efforts to equate caste-based discrimination with racial discrimination and the exclusionary policies of Western countries are fraught. While caste-based discrimination continues to be the world's largest unreported human rights crisis, much of India's government, press and academy is stacked with members of upper castes. Therefore, the conversation is often constrained.

 

Yes, It Is

Sociologist Andre Beteille claims that while untouchability is reprehensible and must be condemned, caste discrimination should not be considered racial discrimination and is a dangerous road to go down.  He asserts that Scheduled Castes are not a race of people just as the totality of Brahmins are not a race. Further, this opens the door to religious minorities claiming they are victims of racial discrimination.

 

Also, genetic research has not reached a consensus on racial origins to the caste system.  One study found that regionally, Northerners had closer affiliations with Indo-European speaking central Asian groups than did the South, but so did generally higher-ranking caste groups.  Another found that over 98% of the Indian maternal gene pool is more or less uniform.

 

Race and Caste (by Andre Beteille, The Hindu)

Human Genetic History of South Asia (by Partha P. Majumder, Current Biology)

Genetic Affinities Among the Lower Castes and Tribal Groups of India: Inference from Y Chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA (National Center for Biotechnology Information)

 

No, It Is Not

Not equating caste with race is a technical loophole (e.g., there is no “race” of Brahmins per Beteille), but caste itself if hereditary in nature since a person is born into that caste.  It also allows caste-based discrimination to continue since India can avoid its treaty liability under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

 

Summary List of the Critical Issues Pertaining to India’s Periodic Report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Human Rights Watch)

INDIA: The National Human Rights Commission of India is Confused about its Mandate (Asian Legal Resource Centre)

more

Comments

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100mcxtips.in :Best Stock and Commodity Market Tips Provider offer a comprehensive solution for trading that cover every area of the Indian stock and commodity. 1 year ago
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News Portal 1 year ago
Dear Admin, News24Ghante.com is an Authentic news portal, we are provides the latest and Updated news related to the india and the world. We are also provides the local news of all the districts associated with Madhya Pradesh. Sir, I request you, can we exchange backlinks among ourselves? Please contact us to backlink exchange, Our contact details given below: Mob. No. : 9522337799 Email Id : seo@news24ghante.com Website : https://www.news24ghante.com/

Leave a comment

Founded: October 1993
Annual Budget: No set budget, money allotted as needed
Employees: 5 core members
Official Website: http://nhrc.nic.in/
National Human Rights Commission
  • Latest News