"Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of their
race, gender, nationality, religion or any other status. We are all entitled to
Human Rights without discrimination." - United Nations
India was elected in the United Nation Human Rights Council with majority votes,
which shows its standing in the International community. Human Rights is a set
of standards which gives humans the rights to live in peace, harmony, with
dignity, liberty, equality etc. regardless of their labels (sex, creed, caste,
gender, nation etc.) in the society. This ensures the development of the
individuals and the communities since there is a basic standard which applies to
every human on the planet.
The Human Rights are a major part of international law e.g. declarations,
treaties, Acts, regulations, rules which are incorporated by different nations
as their municipal laws. We can say that Human Rights are Universal, absolute,
interrelated and unbiased. This article talks about the modern aspects of Human
The Protection of the Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993
In the 1990s, India was heavily criticized by the foreign countries regarding
its conduct in Jammu and Kashmir violating human rights via military forces to
fight terrorism, which also gave fuel to the unrest politically. So, the tension
from the foreign nations led to the establishment of this Act. This Act was
introduced in 1993 when a need was felt to safeguard the human rights issues at
national as well as state level.
Human Rights definition
According to section 2(d) of this Act, "Human Rights mean the rights relating to
life, liberty, equality and dignity of an individual guaranteed by the
constitution and enforceable by courts in India."
National Human Rights Commission
- This Act provides a framework or a structure to guard human rights.
- To protect rights violated by the state's abuse of power.
- By providing remedies to the victims of the Human Rights violation.
- Provide the organizational framework to establish a Human Rights
Commission not only at the national but also at the state level as well and
set up Human Rights Courts for the speedy redressal of grievances.
The commission was established in 1993, under the statute of PHRA,1993. The
Paris Principles was adopted for the encouragement and safeguarding of Human
Rights which influenced the national institutions, led to the embodiment of NHRC
Case of Communal Riot in Gujarat, 2002
- NHRC has the power of a civil court while dealing with a case under the
Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
- Power to furnish information about any claimed privilege of the person
under the law.
- Power to investigate and inquire or seize any relevant documents with
- Power to take suo moto cognizance in matters related to violation of
In this case, the National Human Rights Commission took cognizance of the matter
after receiving numerous requests to look into the violence which was violating
human rights aggressively. The NHRC conducted a report based on facts and the
current handling of the situation by the government of Gujarat.
The commission then made recommendations to the state to involve CBI for proper
investigation of the matter and that special courts should be made to handle the
progress of the investigation, it also extended legal aid to the rape victim so
she could pursue her case in the Supreme court.
Complaints which are admitted
The kinds of complaints that NHRC entertains are custodial deaths, failed
investigation by police, police brutality, legal aid, illegal detention, fake
encounters by police, bonded labour, environment pollution etc.
Complaint and Enquiry Procedure:
After the inquiry, the Commission can make recommendations to the government:
- Any individual or group of individuals or organizations can report a complaint against any violation of human rights.
- The complaints are then registered without any fee.
- The complaint is reviewed by the members, the commission requires further information and affidavits to proceed, in case there is no information found the complaint gets dismissed.
- If any information or lead is found, the complaint is admitted and the matter is properly investigated and inquired.
- State government's take on the matter is considered then the proceedings are taken forwards for further inquiry and investigation or taken over by the government to take action.
- When NHRC proceeds with the complaint, the inquiry is conducted by its members.
- In the process of inquiring about the matter, the commission can use its powers similar to that of a civil court, such as summoning and enforcing the attendance of witnesses, examining them on oath, and production of any document.
- Summon any witness and examine them;
- Discover any document;
- Ask for affidavits as evidence;
- Question the public record for verification;
- Issue direction for the witness examination or examination of the
- To provide Victim compensation.
- To initiate proceedings against the person guilty for violation of Human
- To take disciplinary actions against the accused.
- To take preventive measures for safeguarding human rights.
Guidelines by NHRC
- It should be the commission's primary focus to inquire into cases of
- Reporting of crimes like custodial death, rape, prison death is
compulsory by District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police within 24
- Guidelines from the case of D.K Basu must be followed for arrest.
State Human Rights Commission (SHRC)
Section 21(1) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1933 provides that the
Human Rights Commission can be constituted at the state level by the state
government, to practice the powers and functions which the state allocates. SHRC
has the same functions as NHRC except for examining the international
instruments of human rights, other than that it has limited powers and it can't
punish the individuals who violate human rights and has no access to give the
Human Rights Courts
Section 30 of the Protection of Human Rights Act provides that the state
government with the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the High Court has
the power to arrange or set up Human Rights Courts at the district level by a
notification which specifies to each district's court of session. A Special
Public Prosecutor is selected for the Human Rights Courts by the state
government under section 31 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
These courts have been arranged in several states like Uttar Pradesh, Assam,
Tamil Nadu etc. The commission also stays connected with that concerned High
Court to clarify the nature of the crime that is to be tried in the High Court
and some other details as well.
- To safeguard human rights at the grassroots level.
- To provide speedy trials of the wrong arising out of violation of human
- Role of Non-Governmental organizations to safeguard Human Rights
The non-governmental organizations work well when they're dealing with human
rights issues, they play a very vital part especially in a developing country
like India in protecting and encouraging human rights. These organizations are
private, independent and non-profit i.e. the main purpose of their existence is
not financial profit.
Many people offer to support such organizations voluntarily. The NGOs identify
the issues which the government fails to recognise and they work to fulfil those
gaps by planning, monitoring and evaluating human rights protection.
Section 12(1) of the Protection of Human Rights Act provides that the commission
is supposed to promote such organisations and encourage their work towards the
community in the field of human rights to obtain physical help. The role of NGOs
is also recognised internationally in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of
There have been times when local NGOs which work on a grass-root level were the
first to file a complaint against violation of human rights and the National
Human Rights Commission admitted those complaints, also their role in helping
with enforcement of government policies related to human rights with their
recommendations has been very effective.