The Human Rights Commission at union and state was established in 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Act based on Paris Principles adopted by the UN for protection of human rights.
The Commission has been empowered under the law to enquire, intervene, visit jails, review safeguards, summon, examine witnesses etc. in cases of human rights violations.
The Commission has worked relentlessly over the years to create awareness and sensitize public authorities against violations of human rights by issuing various guidelines pertaining to:
- Collection of evidence by forensics in sexual assault cases
- Police encounters
- Custodial death and rapes
- Media addressing cases of child abuse
Despite these efforts at preventing human rights violations, the Commission suffers from certain structural and practical limitations.
- Recommendations are not binding
- No penalizing powers
- Can only recommend course of action to be taken
- NHRC cannot investigate complaints of human rights violation prior to 1 year.
- NHRC can dispose of ongoing cases if the matter is sub-judice under Regulation 9(xi) of NHRC (Procedure) Regulations.
- Political Considerations: in the appointment of Chairperson and members of NHRC
- Police not following NHRC Guidelines as they are not binding
- Members lack experience in dealing with Human rights issues.
- Non-filling of vacancies impact its proper functioning
- NHRC must be made a constitutional body and given the status of a tribunal.
- NHRC must be empowered to appoint and transfer its own personnel.
- Cases of custodial deaths and rape must be allotted to a Fast Track Tribunal of NHRC or SHRC.
Thus, giving the status of tribunal to Human Right Commissions will ensure better regulation of human rights violations especially by the mighty and powerful.