The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India is an autonomous public body constituted on 12 October 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Ordinance of 28 September 1993. It was given a statutory basis by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (PHRA). The NHRC is the national human rights institution, responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights, defined by the Act as “rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants”.
“Human Rights” means the 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. “Commission” means the National Human Rights Commission constituted under section of all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights known as Human rights, as commonly understood, are the rights that every human being is entitled to enjoy freely irrespective of his religion, race, caste, sex and nationality, etc.
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In Declaration of Independence acknowledged the fundamental human rights. Human right means different thing to different people. Human Rights are not static. New rights are recognized and enforced from time to time. Only persons fully conversant with the latest development about the expanding horizons of Human Rights can promote their awareness better than others.
The NHRC consists of: A Chairperson, One Member who is, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court of India, One Member who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of a High Court, Two Members to be appointed from among persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights, and In addition, the Chairpersons of four National Commissions of (Minorities, Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, Women) serve as ex officio members.
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The Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA) mandates the NHRC to perform the following functions:
- Pro-actively or reactively inquire into violations of human rights or negligence in the prevention of such violation by a public servant
- By leave of the court, to intervene in court proceeding relating to human rights
- To visit 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 and make recommendations
- 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
- Review the factors, including acts of terrorism that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend appropriate remedial measures
- To 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
- Engage in human rights education 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
- Encourage the efforts of NGOs and institutions working in the field of human rights
The purpose of the NHRC is through the petition of a person, to investigate the violation of human rights or the failures of the state or other to prevent a human rights violation. The Commission can visit state institutions where people are detained such as jails to examine the conditions of the institutions and make sure they are in compliance with human rights provisions. They can also examine any law or constitutional provisions to ensure that the safeguards of the law protect human rights. They are to advise the state on measures to prevent terrorism and related violations as well as on how to effectively implement provisions of human rights treaties. The commissions may also take on research about human rights, create awareness campaigns through various mediums, and encourage the work of NGOs.