What are Human Rights?
Human Rights is a concept which has been constantly evolving as society has kept on changing and people became more aware of what their rights and duties are, so basically human rights are those rights and freedoms which are entitled to everyone and are discriminatory in nature, these human rights bestow duties upon people on not to infringe and violate other people’s rights.
The notion of Human rights gained its momentum after the end of World War II when many people lost their lives, seeing this the UN took a stand for the protection of the Human rights of every person.
Human rights are associated with life, liberty, equality, and dignity of the individual defined in Section 2(d) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1933. These are the rights, which are guaranteed by the Constitution of India.
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
This is an independent statutory body, which was constituted under the protection of human rights Act, 1993, this act was an act of the parliament, which gave birth to this body on the 12th October 1993, which aims to protect and promote human rights. This body is also called the watchdog of the human rights for the people in India, which has its headquarters in Delhi.
Functions of the NHRC
The functions of NHRC are varied some of which can be as follows:
• It has the power to investigate cases, which involve the violation of Human rights in some cases even suo moto, even investigating inquiries by a third person related to the victim.
• The NHRC also has the power to intervene in the proceedings of the courts that involve cases about the infringement of human rights only after prior approval of the court.
• Any person from the body can visit the jails to see the living conditions of the inmates and recommend changes if required
• NHRC also promotes research in the field of Human rights and spread awareness about the same to the public.
• The body can recommend changes in the center as well as the state to take actions to prevent the infringement of the Human Rights
• NHRC also has the powers of a civil court in matters of granting interim bail.
Composition of the Body
Section 3 of the Human rights act talk about the composition of the NHRC body:
The NHRC comprises of a Chairperson. The Chairperson has to be a retired Chief Justice of India.
There are four other members as follows:
· One Member who is currently, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court.
· One Member who is currently, or has been, the Chief Justice of the High Court.
· Two other members should be there who have the knowledge or practical experience in matters related to human rights.
The ex officio members of the Commission are:
• Chairpersons of the National Commission for Minorities,
• Chairpersons of the National Commission for Women,
• Chairperson of the National Commission for SC’s, and
• Chairperson of the National Commission for ST’s.
The Appointment and Tenure
The President of India appoints all the members of the NHRC body, which is recommended to him/her by a committee of six members and the members of the committee are
• The Prime minister of India
• The speaker of the Lok Sabha
• Deputy Chairperson of Rajya Sabha
• Leaders of the opposition of both the houses And
• The Home Minister
The tenure of the body is for 5 years or 70 years of age of the person whichever earlier.
State Human Rights Commission (SHRC)
The SHRC is the state-level body for the prevention of violation of human rights and as of now, 26 states have the body commissioned at state levels. The SHRC has the right to inquire about the violation of human rights for the subject matters, which are related to the state and concurrent list about the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
Functions of the SHRC
The functions of the SHRC are the same, as the NHRC the difference being that in SHRC the functions will relate to the areas and which are under the purview of the State Governments.
Composition of the SHRC
This body consists of only three members
• A chairperson who is a retired Chief justice of a High Court.
• A serving or retired judge of a high court or a District Judge with an experience of at least 7 years.
• A person having practical knowledge of Human Rights.
The Appointment and Tenure
The Governor of the State appoints all the members of the SHRC body, which is recommended to him/her by a committee of four members and the members of the committee are
• Chief Minister of the State is the head
• Speaker of the Legislative Assembly
• State Home Minister And
• Leader of opposition
The tenure of the body is the same as the NHRC which is for 5 years or 70 years of age of the person whichever earlier.
Role of the NHRC and SHRC in Safeguarding the Human Rights
Since the commission of the NHRC, it has been relentlessly safeguarding the rights and liberties of the citizens of the country. The body not only has jurisdiction but also an obligation to grant relief in certain cases. The Commission both at the center and at the state level has taken a consistent stand for the people whose basic human rights have been violated; in the case of Neelbati Behra v. the State of Orissa, the Apex court of the country observed that the right to life cannot be taken away even from the prisoners and the convicts, which has been constantly observed by these bodies. It was established law that the failure of the State to take all possible steps to protect the life of the citizens while in its custody and if not done will make the state vicariously liable for its action or omission. “Immediate interim relief” seen in section 18(3) of the Act has to be matched to the injury or loss, which the victim or family members have suffered owing to the violation of Human Rights, by public servants.
These commissions have worked tirelessly in the fields of death in judicial custody, police harassment, illegal detention, and torture, and violation of the rights of the ST’s and SC’s in the community which has ensured the maximization of justice for the underprivileged and a check in the power of the government officials.
These bodies work under the same Protocols and the same objective just the difference being that one is where the center is involved I.e. NHRC where the central government has the rights to make and amend laws pertaining to the field of human Rights and on the other hand the SHRC is the body where the state government’s are given authority to do the same where any violation of Human rights has taken place under the state Jurisdiction.