The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the Protection of Human Rights (Amendments) Bill, 2018 for better protection and promotion of human rights in the country.

Salient Features:
1. It proposes to include “National Commission for Protection of Child Rights” as deemed Member of the Commission;

2. It proposes to add a woman Member in the composition of the Commission;

3. It proposes to enlarge the scope of eligibility and scope of selection of Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission as well as the State Human Rights Commission; and

4. It proposes to incorporate a mechanism to look after the cases of human rights violation in the Union Territories.

5. It proposes to amend the term of office of Chairperson and Members of National Human Rights Commission and State Human Rights Commission to make it in consonance with the terms of Chairperson and Members of other Commissions.

The Amendment will strengthen the Human Rights Institutions of India further for effective discharge of their mandates, roles and responsibilities. Moreover, the amended Act will be in perfect sync with the agreed global standards and benchmarks towards ensuring the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual in the country.

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
It is an autonomous public body constituted in year 1993 under Protection of Human Rights Act. It 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’.

Composition of NHRC

The NHRC consists of:

– A Chairperson, should be retired Chief Justice of India (though GoI mulling appointment of retired SC Judges as chairperson[4])

– One member who is, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court of India

– One member who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of a High Court

-Two members to be appointed from among persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights

-In addition, the Chairpersons of four National Commissions (Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Women and Minorities) 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 Supreme Court.

Functions of Commission
1. Enquire suo moto or on a petition into a complaint of violation of human rights.

2. Intervene in any proceedings involving violation of human rights pending before court but with approval of court.

3. Review the safeguards provided by constitution or any law for the protection of human rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation.

4. Undertake and promote research in the field of human rights.

NHRC reports to the President and Governor on matters relating to Union and State, respectively. President and Governor cause presentation of the report to respective legislatures along with ATR (Action Taken Report) by respective Council of Ministers.

(Adapted from PIB and Background from PrepMate-Cengage Polity Book, Chapter 30-Statutory, Regulatory and Quasi Judicial Bodies)