National Human Rights Commission – UPSC Notes

The National Human Rights Commission, sometimes known as the NHRC, is a separate organisation of the Government of India tasked with promoting and safeguarding human rights. It is a statutory body listed in the Indian Constitution and constituted in 1993 under the ‘Protection of Human Rights Act.’ The government updated this statute again in 2006.

What is the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)?

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), founded in 1993, is an independent statutory organisation formed by the Protection of Human Rights Act of 1993, as revised in 2006.

  • Human Rights are an essential component of society, and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) monitors human rights in India.
  • The NHRC serves as the country’s human rights monitor.
  • The NHRC examines the rights of the person to life, dignity, liberty, and equality as specified in Section 2(1) of the PHR Act.
  • They are guaranteed by the Indian Constitution, enshrined in international treaties, and enforceable by Indian courts.
  • The National Human Rights Commission was founded by the Paris Principles of Human Rights, 1991, which were formulated to promote and protect human rights and were supported by the United Nations at its General Assembly in 1993.

History Of National Human Rights Commission

The United Nations approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. National Human Rights Institutions(NHRIs) created the Paris Principles in 1991. The United Nations General Assembly approved these Paris Principles in 1993. India passed the Protection of Human Rights Act in 1993. As a result, the National Human Rights Commission(NHRC) was established. The State Human Rights Commission was also created due to the Protection of Human Rights Act.

Appointment Members Of NHRC

  • A Selection Committee will suggest the nominees to the President.
  • The Selection Committee comprises:
  • Prime Minister who is the Chairman
  • Leaders of the Opposition in both Houses of the Parliament
  • Speaker of Lok Sabha
  • Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha
  • Union Home Minister

Members Of National Human Rights Commission 

A Chairperson and eight additional members make up the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). There are four full-time members among the eight members, and there are four deemed members.

Composition of NHRC
Chairman of NHRCRetired Chief Justice of India
Member 1One who is/has been a Judge of Supreme Court of India
Member 2One who is/has been a Chief Justice of a High Court
Two MembersCandidates with the knowledge or practical experience in the matters of Human Rights
Deemed Members (Ex-officio Members)Deemed members are chairpersons of the below national commissions:
National Commission for Minorities
National Commission for Scheduled Castes
National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
National Commission for Women

Powers & Functions Of NHRC

  • According to Section 12 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, the National Human Rights Commission’s (NHRC) tasks include investigating complaints of human rights violations or carelessness to prevent such violations by public servants. 
  • The Commission also researches human rights treaties and international instruments and offers suggestions to the government on effectively implementing them.
  • The NHRC can examine any allegations about human rights breaches in India either on its own or after receiving a petition.
  • The NHRC has the authority to intervene in any court proceeding involving any accusation of a violation of human rights.
  • It has the authority to go to any state-run jail or institution to inspect inmates’ living circumstances. It can also offer suggestions to the authorities based on its findings.
  • The NHRC can examine the sections of the Constitution that protect human rights and make recommendations for corrective action.
  • The NHRC also encourages research on the subject of human rights.
  • NHRC promotes human rights knowledge and literacy in many sections of society through various media.
  • The NHRC has the authority to advise both the Central and State governments on avoiding violations of human rights in India.
  • The President of India receives an annual report from the National Human Rights Commission, presented to both Houses of Parliament.


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Limitations Of NHRC 

For the UPSC examination, it is critical to understand the NHRC’s restrictions. They are listed below:

  • The NHRC’s recommendations are not binding.
  • Private parties’ violations of human rights are not subject to NHRC jurisdiction.
  • The NHRC lacks the authority to penalise authorities who do not follow its proposed instructions.
  • Three NHRC members are judges, which lends the Commission’s operations a judicial flavour.
  • Other members proposed by the Selection Committee may or may not be Human Rights specialists.
  • The NHRC does not consider the following cases: Cases that are more than a year old, Anonymous, pseudonymous, or ambiguous cases, frivolous Cases, Cases involving service issues.
  • The NHRC has limited authority over armed military issues.
  • Other challenges confronting the NHRC include an overabundance of cases/complaints, insufficient money, a bureaucratic operating style, and so on.

Major Issues Associated With NHRC

Human rights violations occur on a huge scale in India for various causes. The majority of concerns in the nation are handled by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Some of them are as follows:

  • Arbitrary arrest and detention
  • Conflict induced internal displacement
  • Child labour
  • Custodial torture
  • Excessive powers
  • Extrajudicial killings
  • Labour rights and right to work
  • LGBTQ community rights
  • Manual scavenging
  • SC/ST, disabled people and other religious minority issues
  • Sexual violence and abuse
  • Violence and discrimination against women and children

Term & Removal Of Chairperson Of NHRC

The Chairperson or Members of the National Human Rights Commission serve for three years or until they reach the age of 70, whichever comes first. Previously, the duration of office was 5 years or 70 years, whichever came first. However, the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill 2019 made several adjustments.


Where is the National Human Rights Commission’s headquarters located?

The NHRC’s headquarters are in New Delhi.

Who is the current chairperson of India’s National Human Rights Commission?

The current head of the National Human Rights Commission is Shri Justice Arun Kumar Mishra, who took office on June 2, 2021.