National Human Rights Commission of India

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National Human Rights Commission
Agency overview
Formed 12 October 1993
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agency India
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters New Delhi, India
Agency executives
Official website

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India is an autonomous public body constituted on 12 October 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Ordinance of 28 September 1993.[1] It was given a statutory basis by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (TPHRA).[2] The NHRC is the national human rights institution, responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights, defined by the Act as "rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants".

“Human Rights” means the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the constitution or embodied in the International covenants and enforceable by courts in India. “Commission” means the National Human Rights Commission constituted under section of All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights known as Human rights, as commonly understood, are the rights that every human being is entitled to enjoy freely irrespective of his religion, race, caste, sex and nationality, etc. (Jagdish chand, 2007) In Declaration of Independence acknowledged the fundamental human rights. Human right means different thing to different people. Human Rights are not static. New rights are recognized and enforced from time to time. Only persons fully conversant with the latest development about the expanding horizons of Human Rights can promote their awareness better than others.


TPHRA mandates the NHRC to perform the following functions:[2]

  • proactively or reactively inquire into violations of human rights or negligence in the prevention of such violation by a public servant
  • by leave of the court, to intervene in court proceeding relating to human rights
  • to visit any jail or other institution under the control of the State Government, where persons are detained or lodged for purposes of treatment, reformation or protection, for the study of the living conditions of the inmates and make recommendations
  • review the safeguards provided by or under the Constitution or any law for the time being in force for the protection of human rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation
  • review the factors, including acts of terrorism that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend appropriate remedial measures
  • to study treaties and other international instruments on human rights and make recommendations for their effective implementation
  • undertake and promote research in the field of human rights
  • engage in human rights education among various sections of society and promote awareness of the safeguards available for the protection of these rights through publications, the media, seminars and other available means
  • encourage the efforts of NGOs and institutions working in the field of human rights
  • such other function as it may consider it necessary for the protection of human rights.


The NHRC consists of:

  • A Chairperson
  • One Member who is, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court of India
  • One Member who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of a High Court
  • Two Members to be appointed from among persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights
  • In addition, the Chairpersons of four National Commissions of ( 1.Minorities 2.SC 3.ST 4.Women) serve as ex officio members.

Current members[edit]

The current chairperson of the NHRC is K.G. Balakrishnan and the other members are:[3]

  • Justice Shri Cyriac Joseph
  • Justice Shri D. Murugesan
  • Shri Sharad Chandra Sinha

Ex-officio members:


Sections 3 and 4 of TPHRA lay down the rules for appointment to the NHRC. The Chairperson and members of the NHRC are appointed by the President of India, on the recommendation of a committee consisting of:

Former chairpersons[edit]

Name Tenure
1. Justice Ranganath Misra 12 October 1993 - 24 November 1996
2. Justice M N Venkatachaliah 26 November 1996 - 24 October 1999
3. Justice J S Verma 4 November 1999 - 17 January 2003
4. Justice A S Anand 17 February 2003 - 31 October 2006
5. Justice S. Rajendra Babu 2 April 2007 - 31 May 2009
6. Justice K G Balakrishnan 7 June 2010 - 11 May 2015

Acting Chairpersons[edit]

  • Dr. Justice Shivaraj Patil, from November 1, 2006 to April 1, 2007
  • Jusice G P Mathur, from June 1, 2009 to June 6, 2010

International status[edit]

The NHRC has been accredited with "A status" by the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions (the ICC), indicating that it is in conformity with the Paris Principles – a broad set of principles agreed upon by a conference of experts on the promotion and protection of human rights, in Paris in October 1991, and subsequently endorsed by the UN General Assembly. The Commission is thus entitled to participate in the ICC and in its regional sub-group, the Asia Pacific Forum, and may take part in certain sessions of the UN human rights committees.


A report concerning the manner of which the Shivani Bhatnagar murder controversy case was rejected, a case which involved high-ranking officials being implicated in the murder of a journalist, opened the organisation up to questioning over the usefulness of human rights commissions set up by the government at the national and state levels.[4]

In mid-2011, the chairman of the NHRC, ex-Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan came under a cloud for allegedly owning assets disproportionate to his income.[5] His son-in-law P. V. Srinijan, an Indian National Congress politician, had to resign for suddenly coming into possession of land worth Rs. 25 lakhs.[6] Many prominent jurists, including former CJ J. S. Verma, SC ex-Judge V. R. Krishna Iyer, noted jurist Fali S. Nariman, former NHRC member Sudarshan Agrawal and prominent activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan, have called on Balakrishnan's resignation pending from the HRC pending inquiry.[7] As of February 2012, Justice Balakrishnan had not resigned, and the Supreme Court inquired of the government re: the status of the inquiry.[8]

HRC's recommendations

NHRC held that 16 out of 19 police encounters with suspected maoists in Guntur and Kurnool districts of Andhra Pradesh, prior to 2002 were fake and recommended to Government payment of compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of the families.[9]


  1. ^ Annual Report 1993-94 of the National Human Rights Commission
  2. ^ a b The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, as amended by the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2006
  3. ^ NHRC website
  4. ^ The NHRC, and the Shivani Murder Controversy. Retrieved on 2012-09-30.
  5. ^ CBDT to probe ex-CJI Balakrishnan's assets -Videos India:IBNLive Videos. (2011-06-22). Retrieved on 2012-09-30.
  6. ^ Ex-CJI's son amasses property in four years. (2012-09-21). Retrieved on 2012-09-30.
  7. ^ Fali Nariman wants judicial probe against ex-CJI, kin's assets : South News – India Today. (2011-01-03). Retrieved on 2012-09-30.
  8. ^ SC asks Centre about action taken against ex-CJI KG Balakrishnan – India News – IBNLive. Retrieved on 2012-09-30.
  9. ^ "NHRC declares 16 out of 19 encounters fake, orders compensation of Rs.80 lakh". 13 July 2012. 

External links[edit]