CURTAIN RAISER: NHRC to celebrate its 26th Foundation day on the 12th October, 2019 (11.10.2019)

New Delhi, 11th October, 2019

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India is celebrating its 26th Foundation Day on Saturday the 12th October, 2019. To mark the occasion a function is being organized at Dr D.S Kothari Auditorium, DRDO Bhawan, Rajaji Marg, New Delhi. Mr. Amit Shah, Union Home Minister will address the gathering as the Chief Guest on the occasion. Mr. Justice H.L. Dattu, Chairperson, NHRC will preside over the function.

The Commission was set up on the 12th October, 1993, under the Protection of Human Rights Act, passed by Parliament. The mandate of the NHRC is to work for the promotion and protection of human rights and take cognizance of such complaints wherein the actions, inactions and omissions of government functionaries, prima facie or allegedly, cause human rights violation. It is a recommendatory quasi-judicial body, having powers of a civil court to call for any documents and summon any public authority in a case of human rights violation. In a case of human rights violation, its recommendations are twofold: relief to the victim and punishment to the guilty.

Beside taking cognizance of human rights violations and conducting enquiry into them, the NHRC is also mandated for creating an enabling atmosphere as a preventive mechanism to check incidents of human rights violations. For this, it has been consistent with its efforts to increase awareness about the importance of promotion and protection of human rights through workshops, seminars, conferences, internships, open forum discussions, open hearing and camp sittings, publications, moot court competitions, debate competitions for para- military forces, human rights short film competition.

The NHRC, India continues to hold ‘A’ status accreditation with the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, GANHRI. The Commission is a founder Member of Asia Pacific Forum and is valued for its contribution in the deliberations at various international forums on the issues of Human Rights violations. Recently, the NHRC India intervened in the 22nd Session of an International conference of NHRIs in Geneva on the rights of the disabled persons. The Chairperson Mr. Justice H.L. Dattu NHRC India has been given the responsibility to Chair a Committee to look into the international laws, treaties and related documents so that the existing domestic laws could be updated as per the international standards in the respective countries of the NHRIs.

This year, the Commission has taken several new initiatives to expand its outreach. It has linked its online complaint filing system with over three lakh Common Service Centres spread in various parts of the country. This is helping people in far flung areas to file their complaints quickly. It has started the services of NHRC Toll Free Helpline number 14433. Beside upgrading and updating its website, it has opened HRCNet portal, thereby providing a common platform to NHRC and all the State Human Rights Commissions. This will help reduce the duplication of complaints and also easy tracking of the status of the complaints. The State authorities can also file online reports to the NHRC using this portal to avoid delay in providing relief to the victims of human rights violations. This year, the Commission also started video conferencing with the State authorities to expedite disposal of cases.

Another important initiative of the Commission this year has been that it is proposing to set up a task force to prepare a National Action Plan on Human Rights( NAPHR) comprising the representatives of various Ministries, NGOs, Civil Society and the NHRC among the other stakeholders. This will help flag the key issues of human rights for the government(s), which would require to be addressed with a targeted approach to improve the human rights situation in the country through a sustained mechanism.

The National Human Rights Commission, consistent with its mandate under Section 12 (h) of the Protection of Human Rights Act to spread human rights awareness and literacy, opened a dialogue with NCC, NSS, NYKS, Red Cross and Doordarshan this year as a new initiative. The idea is to collaborate with them for building awareness about human rights through their vast networks. Some rounds of discussions with these organizations have already been held. The proposals regarding these collaborations are in the pipeline and likely to take some concrete shape soon.

The Commission has set up a focal point for Human Rights Defenders and continues to engage with the NGOs, civil society representatives and Human Rights Defenders for the betterment of Human Rights in the society. Open forum discussions, this year, have been very useful for this purpose. Its mechanism of core groups of various experts and NGOs, Special Monitors and Special Rapporterus is also very effectively helping in an assessment of Human Rights situation in various parts of the country and making suitable recommendations to the government. The Commission is also actively considering the issues of Human Rights which could be taken up by the Human Rights Courts.

The Commission has sponsored various research studies by eminent scholars attached with various institutions. Some of the most recent include, among others, research study on farm crisis and suicides by farmers, Study on the status of Human Rights education in colleges and universities, Human Rights of transgenders, Rights to Education related issues of migrated labourers in Kerala.

Going by the popularity of its month long winter and summer internships, particularly among the post graduate level students of law and social sciences background, and the demand for more such programmes, the Commission, from this year, started a structured monthly programme of 15 days Short Term Internships. This is opened for students of all the disciplines even at graduation level. Colleges and universities, running human rights course particularly, have been asked to include internship with NHRC as part of their curriculum. Several students from different parts of the country have attended the short term internships since July this year. The Commission has also expanded its sponsorship programmes of human rights awareness workshops. The visits by students, academicians, trainee police, judicial, prison and administrative officers for a day long human rights awareness programme have also increased.

Disposal of more than 18 lakh cases, payment of more than 176 crore rupees as relief to the victims of human rights violations by various state agencies on the recommendations of the Commission, about 800 spot enquires, about 50 open hearings and camp sittings covering the length and breadth of the country, reviews and comments on over 40 bills and legislations, conduct of more than 200 seminars, conferences and workshops, about 29 month-long internships, hundreds of attachment programmes, sponsored awareness trainings through various institutions and NGOs, several short films on human rights issues, more than 90 publications, besides about 26 volumes of more than 300 monthly Newsletters in English and Hindi, hundreds of media reports etc bear a testimony to the NHRC, India's multi-dimensional work for the cause of human rights during the last 26 years.