Accreditation by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is preparing to defend India’s human rights procedures at a key meeting of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) in Geneva.
  • This summit will decide if India’s NHRC will keep its “A status” accreditation. 

About National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

EstablishmentThe Protection of Human Rights Act of 1993 established this statutory body. 
FunctionsInquire about any infringement of human rightsRecommend quick temporary aid for victims and their families.Intervene in court cases involving human rights breaches.Review the constitutional and legal safeguards for human rights.Study international human rights instruments.Promote human rights literacy. Support the efforts of NGOs working in the field of human rights
PowersRegulate its own procedures.Have all the powers of a civil court.Proceedings have judicial nature. 
ChairpersonApplicants must be former Supreme Court Justices or Chief Justices appointed by the President of India. 
MembersFour full-time members.Chairperson: Former Supreme Court Justice or Chief Justice; Other Members: Former Supreme Court Judges; Other Members: Former High Court Chief Justices.Three members have expertise or experience in human rights, including at least one woman-Seven ex-officio members:  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.
AppointmentRemoval by order of the President of India.Appointed by the President on the suggestion of a committee including the Prime Minister, Speaker of Lok Sabha, Home Minister, Leaders of the Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, and others.Consultation with the Chief Justice of India on judicial appointments. 
RemovalRemoval by order of the President of India.Consultation with the Supreme Court Before Removal 
Terms of OfficeHold office for three years, or until the age of 70.Ineligibility for continued government job after leaving office.Suitable for reappointment. 
SalariesDetermined by the Central government
ReportingSubmits yearly or special reports to the central government and the relevant state governments.Reports presented to the different legislatures, together with a summary of action taken on the recommendations and reasons for non-acceptance of any suggestions. 
LimitationsThe commission is not empowered to investigate any case beyond the expiry of one year from the date on which the act constituting the violation of human rights is claimed to have occurred.Functions are recommendatory in nature, with no ability to penalise or grant remedy to offenders.Limited involvement regarding armed forces transgressions. 

GANHRI’s Concerns About India’s NHRC

The SCA voiced concerns about India’s NHRC’s operational independence and composition, which might result in a degradation of its accreditation status in 2023.

  • Political intervention: The NHRC-India encountered allegations regarding political intervention in appointments, jeopardising its independence.
  • The involvement of the police in investigations into human rights crimes generated questions about impartiality and fairness.
  • Lack of collaboration: The NHRC’s weak collaboration with civil society was criticised for undermining its ability to safeguard human rights.
  • Lack of Diversity: The GANHRI identified a lack of diversity among NHRC staff and leadership roles. There is also an absence of gender and minority representation.
  • Insufficient Protection of Marginalised Groups: The NHRC was judged to have taken insufficient action to safeguard marginalised groups, which violated the United Nations’ rules on national institutions (the “Paris Principles”). 

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