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Legislative Frameworks For Implementation Of Human Rights In India

"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 Rights.

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."

  • 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.
National Human Rights Commission
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 in India.


  • 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 reason.
  • Power to take suo moto cognizance in matters related to violation of human rights.

Case of Communal Riot in Gujarat, 2002
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:

  1. Any individual or group of individuals or organizations can report a complaint against any violation of human rights.
  2. The complaints are then registered without any fee.
  3. 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.
  4. If any information or lead is found, the complaint is admitted and the matter is properly investigated and inquired.
  5. 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.
  6. When NHRC proceeds with the complaint, the inquiry is conducted by its members.
  7. 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 document.

After the inquiry, the Commission can make recommendations to the government:
  • To provide Victim compensation.
  • To initiate proceedings against the person guilty for violation of Human Rights.
  • To take disciplinary actions against the accused.
  • To take preventive measures for safeguarding human rights.

Guidelines by NHRC

  1. It should be the commission's primary focus to inquire into cases of custodial death.
  2. Reporting of crimes like custodial death, rape, prison death is compulsory by District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police within 24 hours.
  3. 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 victim compensation.

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 rights.
  • 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 Action.

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.

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