1) Introduction -
In India, the Parliament has enacted the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 for the Constitution of National Human Rights Commission, State Human Rights Commissions in States and Human Rights Courts for protection of Human Rights and matters related to Human Rights Violation.
2) Meaning and Definition of Human Rights
Human rights have been defined in section 2(d) of the said Act, to mean the Human 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. According to Section 2(d) International Covenants means the International Covenant on civil and political rights and the International Covenant on economic social and cultural rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 16th December 1966.
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3) National Human Rights Commission:
National Commission on human rights (NCHR) was set up in India on 27 September 1993 when the President of India promulgated an ordinance. Provisions for the setting up of similar Commission at State level were also made in the ordinance. Later, Lok Sabha passed the protection of Human Rights bill on 18 December 1993 to replace the presidential ordinance. The Bill become an Act after received the assent of the president on 8 January 1994, which is known as the Protection of Human Rights Act. The purpose of the Act was to provide for the constitution of a National Human Rights Commission, State Human Rights Commission in States and Human Rights Courts for better protection of human rights and for matters connected therewith incidental thereto.
4) Constitution of National Human Rights Commission :
Chapter II of the said Act deals with the constitution of the National Human Rights Commission. According to Section 3 of the Act, the Central Government shall constitute a body to be known as the National Human Rights Commission which shall have eight members and will be headed by the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The other members of the commission shall be sitting or retired judge of the supreme court, a serving or a retired Chief Justice of the high court, two prominent persons having knowledge or a practical experience in the sphere of human rights and the chairpersons of the National Commission for minorities, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Women. The Chairperson and the members of the commission shall be appointed by the President on the Recommendation of a six-members shall hold office for a period of 5 years, from the date on which they enter upon their office. They shall be eligible for reappointment for another term. A person can serve the commission until the age of 70 years.
5) Powers and Functions of National Human Rights Commission:
i) Functions of Human Rights Commission -
The Commission shall perform all or any of the following functions,
(a) inquire, suo motu or on a petition presented to it by a victim or any person on his behalf or on a direction or order of any court, into complaint of
(i) violation of human rights or abetment thereof; or
(ii) negligence in the prevention of such violation, by a public servant;
(b) intervene in any proceeding involving any allegation of violation of human rights pending before a court with the approval of such court;
(c) visit, notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, any jail or other institution under the control of the State Government, where persons are detained or lodged for purposes of treatment, reformation or protection, for the study of the living conditions of the inmates thereof and make recommendations thereon to the Government;
(d) review the safeguards provided by or under the Constitution or any law for the time being in force for the protection of human rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation;
(e) review the factors, including acts of terrorism that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend appropriate remedial measures;
(f) study treaties and other international instruments on human rights and make recommendations for their effective implementation;
(g) undertake and promote research in the field of human rights;
(h) spread human rights literacy among various sections of society and promote awareness of the safeguards available for the protection of these rights through publications, the media, seminars, and other available means;
(i) encourage the efforts of non-governmental organizations and institutions working in the field of human rights;
(j) such other functions as it may consider necessary for the protection of human rights.
(ii) Powers relating to inquiries
(1) The Commission shall, while inquiring into complaints under this Act, have all the powers of a civil court trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, and in particular in respect of the following matters, namely :
(a) summoning and enforcing the attendance of witnesses and examining them on oath;
(b) discovery and production of any document;
(c) receiving evidence on affidavits;
(d) requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office;
(e) issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses or
(f) any other matter which may be prescribed
(2) The Commission shall have power to require any person, subject to any privilege which may be claimed by that person under any law for the time being in force, to furnish information on such points or matters as, in the opinion of the Commission, may be useful for, or relevant to, the subject matter of the inquiry and any person so required shall be deemed to be legally bound to furnish such information within the meaning of section 176 and section 177 of the Indian Penal Code.
(3) The Commission or any other officer, not below the rank of a Gazetted Officer, specially authorized in this behalf by the Commission may enter any building or place where the Commission has reason to believe that any document relating to the subject matter of the inquiry may be found,
and may seize any such document or take extracts or copies therefrom subject to the provisions of section 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, in so far as it may be applicable.
(4) The Commission shall be deemed to be a civil court and when any offense as is described in section 175, section 178, section 179, section 180 or section 228 of the Indian Penal Code is committed in the view or presence of the Commission, the Commission may, after recording the facts
constituting the offence and the statement of the accused as provided for in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, forward the case to a Magistrate having jurisdiction to try the same and the Magistrate to whom any such case is forwarded shall proceed to hear the complaint against the accused as if the case has been forwarded to him under section 346 of the Code
of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
(5) Every proceeding before the Commission shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding within the meaning of sections 193 and 228, and for the purposes of section 196, of the Indian Penal Code, and the Commission shall be deemed to be a civil court for all the purposes of section 195 and
Chapter XXVI of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
(6) 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 this 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.
(7) Every complaint transferred under sub-section(6) shall be dealt with and disposed of by the State Commission as if it were a complaint initially filed before it.
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