There are five Divisions in the Commission. These are
The Law Division of the Commission handles registration and disposal of around one lakh cases each year, registered on the complaints of human rights violation made to it either by the victim or any other person on behalf of the victim or on receipt of intimation from authorities concerned, regarding custodial death, custodial rape, death in police action, or on suo motu cognizance by the Commission or on a direction or order of any court. The Division also receives intimations regarding deaths in police/judicial custody, deaths in the custody of defence/para military forces and custodial rapes. Suo motu cognizance of serious matters taken by the Commission is also dealt with by the Division. During the year 2017-2018, 77,589 complaints were received in the Commission. All complaints received in the Commission are assigned a diary number and thereafter scrutinized and processed using the Complaint Management and Information System (CMIS) software especially devised for this purpose. After registration of complaints, they are placed before the Commission for its directions and accordingly, follow up action is taken by the Division in these cases till their final disposal. Cases of important nature are taken up by the Full Commission and matters pertaining to deaths in police custody or police action are considered by the Division Benches. Some important cases are also considered in sittings of the Commission in open court hearings. The Division has also been organizing camp sittings in different State capitals to expedite disposal of pending complaints and sensitize the State functionaries on the human rights issues. The Commission has also been organizing open hearings regarding atrocities on Scheduled Castes in the country to have direct interaction with the affected persons belonging to Scheduled Castes. The Division further provides its views / opinion on various Bills/draft legislations referred to it for better protection and promotion of human rights. The Law Division has come out with few important publications like “NHRC & HRDs: The Growing Synergy”, etc. There is also a Focal Point for Human Rights Defenders who is accessible to HRDs round the clock through (i) Mobile No. 9810298900, (ii) Fax No. 24651334, and (iii) E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Law Division is headed by a Registrar (Law), who is assisted by Presenting Officers, a Joint Registrar, a number of Deputy Registrars, Assistant Registrars, Section Officers and other secretarial staff.
The Investigation Division constitutes an important pillar of the functioning of NHRC. In fact there are very few National Human Rights Institutions in the world which can boast of having Investigation Division. The Investigation Division functions as the investigation arm of the NHRC and it enables NHRC to verify the submissions and claims made by various organs of the States in their replies/reports sent to the Commission. The fact that any statement made or report furnished to the NHRC can be verified by the NHRC by deputing its team for an on-the-spot verification acts as a disincentives to the Government agencies including Police against sending false or unsubstantiated reports.
Specialized Divisions and Staff : The Investigation Division is headed by an officer of the rank of Director General of Police, assisted by one DIG and three Senior Superintendents of Police. Each Senior Superintendent of Police heads a group of investigative officers (comprising of Deputy Superintendents of Police and Inspectors). The functioning of Investigation Division is multi dimensional, details of which are as follows:
Spot Enquiries: The Investigation Division conducts spot enquiries and recommends suitable action in the cases revealing human rights violation. The spot enquiries conducted by the Investigation Division not only bring out the truth before the Commission, but also send a message to all concerned – complainants, public servants, etc. The Commission orders a Spot enquiry in a range of cases concerning a variety of public authorities – from illegal detention, extra judicial killing, etc. by the police to the lack of facilities in a hospital leading to avoidable deaths. Spot enquiries enhance the confidence of general public too and instill their faith in NHRC’s role in protection of Human Rights. The Investigation Division also gives its comments /observations, whenever sought, in the cases of advice / analysis, besides monitoring cases whenever referred to it.
Custodial Deaths: As per the guidelines issued by the Commission to the State authorities, the latter are supposed to intimate the Commission in case of any death occurring in custody (whether in police or judicial custody) within 24 hours. The Investigation Division, on receiving such intimations, analyzes the reports in order to find out if there was any human rights violation involved. In order to make the analysis more professional and accurate, Investigation Division seeks help from the forensic experts on the panel of NHRC.
Fact Finding Cases: The Investigation Division also calls upon different authorities to submit reports in “Fact Finding” Cases as directed by the Commission. The Investigation Division critically analyzes these reports with a view to assist the Commission in deciding whether there is any violation of Human Rights or not. In cases where reports received are misleading or not factual, the Commission orders a spot enquiry as well.
Training: The officers of the Investigation Division deliver lectures in training institutes and other forums, wherever they are invited to spread human rights literacy and promote awareness of the safeguards available for the protection of the human rights.
Rapid Action Cell: From the year 2007, the Investigation Division has taken the initiative of making a Rapid Action Cell functional in the Commission. Under RAC cases, the Investigation Division deals with cases which are of a very urgent nature e.g. the allegation may be regarding child marriage likely to be performed the very next day; the complainant fears that a relative or friend picked up by the police may be killed in a false encounter, etc. In all such cases, the Investigation Division takes up the urgent follow up required by the Commission. It may include speaking to authorities/complainants personally over telephone to ascertain facts, faxing the complaint to various authorities for reference and asking them to send their replies expeditiously.
Debate Competition for Personnel of Central Armed Police Forces: In order to promote human rights awareness and spread sensitization towards it among the personnel of the Central Armed Police Forces, the Investigation Division has been regularly organizing a debate competition on such issues, every year, since 1996. Moreover, since 2004, as directed by the Hon’ble Chairperson, zone-wise debate competitions have also been organized as a run up to the final competition, for larger participation of the CAPFs all over the country. The semi-final and the final rounds of teams selected during the zonal competitions are subsequently organized in the Capital. Each year, this event sees enthusiastic participation and an outstanding level of debate.
Debate Competition for Personnel of State Police Forces: The police today are duty bound to conform to the principles of Human Rights in discharging their duties. The lower and middle levels in the police forces are extremely crucial from the viewpoint of Human Rights because they directly come into contact with general public while discharging their duties. Since the year 2004, an attempt has been made by the Investigation Division of National Human Rights Commission to increase the level of human rights awareness among the police officials by providing necessary financial assistance to State/UTs Police Forces for conducting Debate Competitions for State Police Force personnel. At present Commission is providing amount of Rs.30000/- for holding debates in States/UTs.
Visits to Places of Detention: There are a large number of complaints related to the living condition in jails and other institutions where persons are detained or lodged for the purpose of treatment, reformation or protection. The IOs of the Investigation Division visit Jails and other institutions in different states, as and when directed by the Commission and submit reports presenting the facts regarding specific allegations or the general condition of prisoners or inmates with regard to their human rights based on which needed follow-up action is pursued by the Commission.
Policy Research, Projects and Programmes Division
The Policy Research, Projects and Programmes Division (PRP&P Division) undertakes and promotes research on human rights and organizes conferences, seminars and workshops on important human rights issues. Whenever the Commission, on the basis of its hearings, deliberations or otherwise, arrives at a conclusion that a particular subject is of importance, it is converted into a project/programme to be dealt with by the PRP&P Division. Besides, it reviews policies, laws, treaties and other international instruments in force for the protection and promotion of human rights. It facilitates in monitoring the implementation of NHRC recommendations by the Central, State and Union Territory authorities. It further helps the Training Division in spreading human rights literacy and in promoting awareness about the safeguards available for the protection of human rights. The work of the Division is handled by Joint Secretary (Training & Research) and Joint Secretary (Programme & Administration), a Joint Director (Research), Section Officer, Assistant, Research Consultants, Research Associates, Research Assistants and other secretarial staff.
The Training Division is responsible for spreading human rights literacy among various sections of the society. As such, it trains and sensitizes various government officials and functionaries of the State and its agencies, non-government officials, representatives of civil society organizations and students on different human rights issues. For this purpose, it collaborates with the Administrative Training Institutions/Police Training Institutions and Universities/Colleges. Besides, it conducts internship programmes for college and university students. The Division is headed by a Joint Secretary (Training & Research), who is supported by a Senior Research Officer (Training), an Assistant and other secretarial staff. Coordination Section, under the Training Division, deals with all the international matter, including international treaties and conventions. Besides, it coordinates with Camp Commission Sittings/Open Hearings in various States/UTs, organizes Commission’s annual functions, viz., Foundation Day and Human Rights Day. It is also tasked with taking care of protocol duties as well as organizing visits of Chairperson/Members/senior officers of the Commission, both at the national and international levels. Coordination Section consists of an Under Secretary, Section Officer, Assistants, Research Consultant and other secretarial staff.
The Administration Division looks after the establishment, administrative and related requirements of the Chairperson and Members of the NHRC. Besides, it looks into personnel, accounts, library and other requirements of the officers and staff of the NHRC. The work of the Division is handled by the Joint Secretary (P&A) who is assisted by a Director, Under Secretaries, Section Officers, Assistants and other secretarial staff.
The Media and Communication Unit under the Administration Division disseminates information relating to the activities of the NHRC through the print and electronic media. It brings out a bilingual monthly Newsletter ‘Human Rights’. The Publication Unit, responsible for bringing out all the publications of the Commission, is another crucial Unit of the NHRC. The Annual Report, NHRC English and Hindi Journal, “Know Your Right” Series are a few of the salient publications brought out by this Unit. Furthermore, it looks into applications and appeals received under the Right to Information Act, 2005.