“NHRC is unparalleled in the world with the number and types of complaints of human rights violations it handles and the amount of relief paid by the governments on its recommendations”
Recommendations by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) cannot be set aside with impunity merely on the ground that it is a recommendatory body,” said justice Dalveer Bhandari, member, international court of justice.
Addressing the meeting of NHRC and State Human Rights Commissions (SHRCs) in New Delhi on Friday, he cited the April 8, 2016 Allahabad high court’s judgement where the court set aside the Uttar Pradesh government’s challenge against the recommendation of the commission.
Bhandari said, “The NHRC like the international court of justice also does not have contempt powers but by virtue of the respect it commands, most of its directions are accepted.”
He pointed towards state governments’ poor response towards the SHRCs, and asked the NHRC to convene a meeting of chief ministers along with SHRCs chairpersons to ensure that they are effectively functioning and strengthened with manpower, financial and infrastructural resources.
He said that NHRC is unparalleled in the world with the number and types of complaints of human rights violations it handles and the amount of relief paid by the governments on its recommendations. However, he said that there are still some areas, where a lot needs to be done. These are: human trafficking, homeless people living on pavements, victims of terrorism, acute problem of air and water pollution. He said that New Delhi has the dubious distinction of being one of the worst polluted cities in the world leading to death of several people.
Meanwhile, justice HL Dattu, chairperson, NHRC said, “The commissions was envisaged under the Protection of Human Rights Act with the understanding that governments would act on their recommendations on the complaints of human rights violations. But there are many hindrances, which, the SHRCs continue to face in discharging their mandate effectively.”
“The most acute is the lack of adequate infrastructural human as well financial resources for which each state needs to work proactively. So far, 26 States have established SHRCs. However, even in these states, a lot needs to be done, including filling up of vacant positions of chairperson and Members, to ensure their functional autonomy,” he added.
He said that the diversity of the population, widespread poverty, illiteracy and lack of human right awareness among civil societies and public functionaries, make the realisation of human rights an arduous endeavour. Social and economic deprivation, including lack of access to adequate healthcare, food, education and other social goods and services further exacerbate the human rights deficit in the country. These multiple challenges in the realisation of human rights cannot be achieved without the cooperation of governments to the national and state HRCs.
Dattu informed that the NHRC has sent its recommendations to CMs and the prime minister about the minimum basic structure manpower and financial needs of SHRCs, and is constantly following it.
The NHRC has also proposed to the government for suitable amendments for the PHR Act, making the way for setting up of commissions in union territories also. It has also taken up the issue of changes in the Act for the setting up of human rights courts and their effective functions.