IAS Target

The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019

On 8 July 2019, the Ministry of Home Affairs introduced “The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019’ in Lok Sabha. This bill introduces the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. The Act provides for the State Human Rights Commissions (SHRC), the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), and the Human Rights Courts.

Key provision of the bill

Composition of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) As per Act, the chairperson of NHRC is a person who has been the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (SC). The Bill amends this to provide that a person who has been the Supreme Court judge or Chief Justice of the Supreme Court will be a chairperson of NHRC.
The Act provides for two persons to be appointed as members of NHRC having human rights knowledge. The Bill seeks to permit three members to be appointed, of which at least one will be a woman. According to the act, the chairpersons of other commissions like National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST), National Commission for Women (NCW), and National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) are members of NHRC. The bill provides to include the chairpersons of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, and the National Commission for Backward Classes as members of the NHRC.
Chairperson of State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) As per the Bill, the chairperson of SHRC is a person who has been the Chief Justice of a High Court (HC). The Bill amends this provision to provide that a person who has been High Court Judge or Chief Justice of High Court will be the chairperson of SHRC.
Term of office The Act defines that the chairperson and members of both SHRC and NHRC will hold office for 5 years or till the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier. The Bill decreases the term of office to 3 years or till the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier. Moreover, the Act permit the re-appointment of members of the SHRC and NHRCs for 5 years. And the bill abolish the 5 year limit for reappointment.
Powers of Secretary-General The Act provides for a Secretary of an SHRC and Secretary-General of the NHRC who exercise powers may be handed over to them. The Bill amends this provision and permits the Secretary and Secretary-General to exercise all financial and administrative powers except judicial functions, subject to the respective chairperson’s leash.
Union Territories (UTs) The Bill provides that the union government may discuss functions of SHRC human rights being discharged by Union Territories (UTs). Functions regarding human rights in the case of Delhi (NCR) will be dealt with by the NHRC.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India is a Statutory public body. NHRC was created on 12 October 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Ordinance of 28 September 1993. The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (TPHRA) declared it as a statutory body. NHRC is a National Human Rights Commission of India has the onus to promotion and protection human rights, stated by the Act as “Rights Relating to Life, equality, dignity, and liberty of the individual guaranteed by the constitution. The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 was passed to provide for the constitution of-
  • State Human Rights Commission (SHRC)
  • Human Rights Courts for the protection of human rights.
  • National Human Rights Commission (NHRC),

Structure of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

  • A Chairperson, who has been a Judge of the Supreme or a Court Chief Justice of India
  • One member who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of a High Court
  • One member who is, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court of India
  • Three Members, out of which at least one should be a woman to be appointed from among persons having practical experience in, or knowledge of, matters relating to human rights
  • the Chairpersons of National Commissions (Backward Classes, Women, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Minorities) and Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities served as ex- officio members
  • The sitting Chief Justice of any High Court or sitting Judge of the Supreme Court can be appointed after the discussion with the Chief Justice of Supreme Court.