It is an autonomous body established on October 12,1993 under the provision of the Protection of Human Rights Act,1993. The commission is in conformity with the Paris principles (October,1991). It is a statutory body; it is established by the Act of the Parliament. The Act passed was called ‘Protection of Human Rights Act’. The Act was amended in 2006.
The commission is the watchdog of human rights in the country, that is, 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. NHRC comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- The NHRC consists of a chairperson and four members.
- Chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities and National Commission for Women are its ex-officio members.
- The Chairperson and members are appointed by the President on the recommendations of a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the house of the People, the Home Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Council of States and the Deputy Chairman of the Council of States.
- It is a multi-member body in which Chairman is the retired Chief Justice of India.
- Other members serving or retired judges of the Supreme Court, a serving or retired chief justice of a high court and two persons having knowledge or practical experience with respect to human rights.
- Tenure – 5 years or until the age of 70 years. And the Chairman and Members cannot hold any other office in central or state government after their end of tenure.
- Removal – President can remove the Chairman in case he is adjudged an insolvent, paid employment outside the duties of his office, unfit to continue, unsound mind, convicted and sentenced, proved misbehavior and capacity. But it can be done after consulting with the supreme Court.
- Proactively and reactively inquire into violations of human rights or negligence in the prevention of such violation by a public servant.
- Intervene in any proceeding involving allegation of violation of human rights pending before a court.
- Visit jail or other institution under the control of a 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 safeguard provided by human rights and recommend measures to ensure their effective implementation.
- Review factors, including acts of terrorism. That inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend appropriate remedial measures.
- Promotes studying 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.
- Spread literacy among various sections of the society and raise awareness of safeguards available to them for the protection of these rights through publications, the media, seminars and other available means.
- Encourage efforts of NGOs, and institutions working in the field of human rights.
- It holds inquiry into complaints. For this the commission has divided cases in these broad categories.
- Custodial deaths
- Police excesses (torture, illegal detention, unlawful arrest, false implication)
- Fake encounters
- Cases related to women and children.
- Atrocities on Dalits/ members of the minority community/ disabled.
- Bonded labour
- Armed Forces/ para-military forces
- Other important cases.