Human Rights Commission

27/08/2022 0 By indiafreenotes

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India is a statutory 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 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 and enforceable by courts in India”

Functions of NHRC

The Protection of Human Rights Act mandates the NHRC to perform the following:

  • Proactively or reactively inquire into violations of human rights by government of India or negligence of such violation by a public servant
  • 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
  • To visit jails and study the condition of inmates
  • 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 that works in the field of human rights volunteerly.
  • Considering the necessity for the protection of human rights.
  • Requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office.


The NHRC consists of: The chairperson and five members (excluding the ex-officio members)

  • A Chairperson, who has been a Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court.
  • One member who is, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court of India and one member who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of a High Court.
  • Three Members, out of which at least one shall be a woman to be appointed from amongst persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights.
  • In addition, the Chairpersons of National Commissions viz., National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, National Commission for Women, National Commission for Minorities, National Commission for Backward Classes, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights; and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities serve as ex officio members.

The sitting Judge of the Supreme Court or sitting Chief Justice of any High Court can be appointed only after the consultation with the Chief Justice of India.


  • NHRC does not have any mechanism of investigation. In majority cases, it asks the concerned Central and State Governments to investigate the cases of the violation of Human Rights
  • It has been termed as ‘India’s teasing illusion’ by Soli Sorabjee (former Attorney-General of India) due to its incapacity to render any practical relief to the aggrieved party.
  • NHRC can only make recommendations, without the power to enforce decisions.
  • Many times NHRC is viewed as post-retirement destinations for judges and bureaucrats with political affiliation moreover, inadequacy of funds also hamper its working.
  • A large number of grievances go unaddressed because NHRC cannot investigate the complaint registered after one year of incident.
  • Government often out rightly rejects recommendation of NHRC or there is partial compliance to these recommendations.
  • State human rights commissions cannot call for information from the national government, which means that they are implicitly denied the power to investigate armed forces under national control.
  • National Human Rights Commission powers related to violations of human rights by the armed forces have been largely restricted.

NHRC and its Role

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is an independent commission set up by law in 1993. Like judiciary, the Commission is independent of the government. The important objective of the Commission is to protect the human rights. Its functions are:

i) To spread human rights literacy among various sections of the society through media and seminars.

ii) To undertake and promote research in the field of human rights.

iii) To inquire suo-moto or on a petition presented to it by a victim or any person on his behalf.