National Human Rights Commission - NHRC Composition, Members and Functions of Human Rights Commission

By Shubhra Anand Jain|Updated : October 31st, 2022

The National Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory body and is the watchdog of human rights in India. National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was established on October 12, 1993, under the statute of the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993, which was later amended by the Protection of Human Rights Amendment Act in 2006. 

The National Human Rights Commission of India was established to work for the preservation, promotion, and protection of human rights. In 2018, the NHRC completed its 25 years of existence. Below are all the details about the composition of NHRC, functions, and role. 

Table of Content

What is National Human Rights Commission?

NHRC stands for the National Human Rights Commission. It 'is a non-constitutional body that acts as a watchdog for preserving and protecting human rights in the country. According to the United Nations, every individual is guaranteed a certain set of rights, like the right to life, liberty, equality, freedom of opinion, freedom from slavery, etc. The National Human Rights Commission works in the same domain to protect these rights of human life. The NHRC is headquartered in New Delhi and celebrated its 25th anniversary on October 12th, 2018.

NHRC Notes PDF

  • Human Rights Commission of India was established by the government of India under the protection of the Human Rights Act 1993 to protect several rights essential for a quality human life, which included the right to liberty, equality, freedom from slavery, freedom to speech, etc.
  • Every individual present on this planet has a certain dignity and is allowed to live with it. Hence, to maintain the dignity of human life, the NHRC was established to safeguard their rights and provide a quality life for them.
  • These rights are guaranteed by the Indian constitution and enforced by higher courts in India. The Fundamental rights are enshrined in the constitution. 
  • Similar to the NHRC, the Paris Principle of Human Rights was also established in 1991. The NHRC complies with it. The United Nations General Assembly adopted this subject in 1993.

History of the National Human Rights Commission of India

Let us see how and when the concept of NHRC was launched.

  • The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in Paris on December 10, 1948.
  • This action proved to be a landmark in the history of humankind, where a step was taken to protect human rights.
  • Soon after that, in 1991, the Paris Principles were introduced by National Human Rights Institutions, popularly known as NHRIs.
  • In 1993, the United Nations general assembly adopted these principles, and in the same year, India also enacted the Human Rights Protection Act.
  • This was the first time the foundation for the National Human Rights Commission was laid.
  • Big institutions started to realise the importance of preserving human rights, resulting in the Paris Principles being accepted by the UN, and in accordance with these principles, India also took a step ahead and welcomed the production of the Human Rights Act in 1993.
  • Even the state governments in India were authorised and asked by the higher court and the constitution to establish the Human Rights Commission.

Composition of NHRC

Although the NHRC is a non-constitutional body, it is composed of dignified members. The NHRC Composition includes a chairperson along with 12 other working members. Also, these 12 NHRC Members are divided into two sections: five full-time members and seven deemed Members. 

Take a look at the chart given below to understand the composition of the members of the NHRC in detail.

Composition of National Human Rights Commission

The Chairman

The retired CJI (Chief Justice of India)

First Member

Former/ Present Judge of Supreme Court

Second Member

Former/ Present Judge of a High Court

Two Member

Candidates holding experience and deep knowledge about the matters of Human Rights.

Deemed NHRC Members

  1. National Commission for Minorities
  2. National Commission for Women
  3. National Commission for SCs
  4. National Commission for STs

Appointment of NHRC Members

NHRC members is represented by a selection committee recommending candidates to the president of India. This selection committee includes

  • Prime Minister
  • Lok Sabha Speaker.
  • Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha
  • Home Minister
  • The opposition leader in both houses

Removal of the NHRC Members

The chairperson of NHRC and other members of NHRC are appointed for 5 years or the age of 70 years. However, these members or the chairperson can be removed from power immediately if found with the charges of misbehaviour or incapable if proven guilty by the inquiry set by the supreme court of India.

The President of India does the removal of NHRC members if the concerned person is found suspected on the grounds of bankruptcy and sound mind infirmary of body or mind. They can be sentenced to imprisonment or monetary punishments.

Limitation of NHRC

  • NHRC is not authorised to take any action against the violation of human rights done by any private party.
  • The recommendations of NHRC are not Binding in nature.
  • NHRC has no authority to penalise the authority denying its orders' implementation.
  • NHRC has got nearly zero jurisdictions within reach of the armed forces.
  • NHRC is limited to holding cases older than a year, anonymous in nature, frivolous, and pertaining to services.

The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019

The Lok Sabha passed the Protection of Human Rights Amendment Bill 2019 to make the NHRC more inclusive. Following are some major Amendment that was proposed in the Protection of Human Rights Amendment Bill-

  • A person who has been formerly judging of the Supreme Court of India is eligible for the position of chairperson of the commission.
  • The judge of the High Court is also eligible to be the chairperson of the commission along with the Chief Justice of the High Court.
  • The number of members in the commission shall be increased from 2 to 3 where at least one should be a woman.
  • The commission should also include chairpersons of different important fields like the National Commission for Backward Classes, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, and the Chief Commissioner of Persons with disabilities as the deemed members.
  • Assign the Human Rights functions being discharged by the union territories to the state commissions except for The Human Rights responsible for the UT of Delhi.

Difference between the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993 and Human Rights Amendment Bill 2019

Protection of Human Rights Act 1993

According to the National Human Rights Commission-

  • The protection of human rights act 1993 was an act to provide for the constitution of NHRC, SHRC in states, and Human Rights quotes to protect the Human Rights in a better position and for matters related therewith or thereto.
  • This act extended to the whole of the country.
  • It needs to be understood that it shall not only be applied to Jammu and Kashmir and any respect to any matter related to any of the entries listed in the first and third list of the 7th schedule in the constitution of India as it is for the state.

Protection of Human Rights Bill, 2019

  • The Protection of Human Rights bill 2019 was introduced by Amit Shah who was formerly the Minister of Home Affairs in Lok Sabha.
  • This Amendment Act calls for two commissions called, the National Human Rights Commission and State Human Rights Commission along with human rights courts.
  • Under the protection of the Human Rights bill 2019 the chairperson of the NHRC should be the chief justice of the Supreme Court of India which after the amendment was provided with the changes that tell that the judge of the Supreme Court of India can also be the chairperson of NHRC.

Functions of National Human Rights Commission

Broadly, the functions of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) are to file and enquire about complaints of violations of human rights and to take action against such problems.

  • The NHRC has the authority to intervene in any case where there has been a complaint of a violation of human rights.
  • The NHRC is authorized to investigate cases related to violations of human rights.
  • As a result, the NHRC is authorized to inspect the living conditions of prisoners in any of a state's jails or prisons.
  • The NHRC also oversees awareness campaigns and promotes the value of literacy through advertisements in various media outlets.
  • The NHRC can also recommend suggestions or steps to the government of India to protect the living standards of human beings and prevent the violation of human rights. This can be applied to both central and state governments.
  • The NHRC is also required to submit an annual report to the President of India, which is then presented to the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

Issues on National Human Rights Committee

By now we have discussed that the function of the NHRC is to protect human rights, but what are those specific rights for which the NHRC is constituted? Let's have a look at some major issues related to the NHRC.

  • Manual scavenging
  • Sexual Assault
  • Illegal encounters and extrajudicial killings
  • Child labour
  • Child marriage
  • LGBTQ issues
  • Labour rights
  • Custodial torture of the prisoners
  • Arbitrary arrest and mental harassment
  • Discrimination against women and children

NHRC UPSC Notes

NHRC UPSC is a topic that has relevance with respect to Indian politics and current affairs. But specifically, this topic is an important part of the UPSC Indian Polity subject. It is essential to learn from the perspective of the UPSC Mains Exams. You can download the main exam syllabus. You can also refer to this topic from the Polity books for UPSC and start for IAS Exam preparation.

You can download the PDF of the National Human Rights Commission UPSC notes below.

Download National Human Rights Committee UPSC Notes PDF

NHRC UPSC Questions

Question. Explain the term "human rights." Has, in your opinion, the NHRC performed efficiently in protecting human rights ever since its establishment?

Question. Critically analyze the roles and responsibilities of the NHRC.

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FAQs on National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

  • NHRC stands for National Human Rights Commission of India. The National Human Rights Commission of India is an independent statutory body which acts as a watchdog for human rights. 

  • The NHRC composition consists of a chairperson, 5 full-time members and 7 deemed members. The composition of NHRC is under the chairperson 2022 Shri Justice Arun Kumar Mishra.

  • The National Human Rights Commission was established on 12 October 1993 as per the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993, which was later amended in 2006.

  • According to the National Human Rights Committee, human rights can be defined as the rights that relate to liberty, equality, and living life with dignity. The NHRC declares that every individual has the right to live a healthy and dignified life and thus works in this field.

  • The current chairman of the National Human Rights Commission is Shri Justice Arun Kumar Mishra. He was appointed as the chairman on June 2, 2021.

  • Yes, the National Human Rights Committee is an autonomous body. It is a non-constitutional body formed by appointing the chairperson and the members with a fixed tenure.

  • The NHRC headquarters are situated in New Delhi, India. 

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