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State Human Rights Commission

State Human Rights Commission

Introduction

  • The Protection of Human Rights Act of 1993 provides for the creation of not only the National Human Rights Commission but also a State Human Rights Commission at the state level.
  • Accordingly, twenty six states have constituted the State Human Rights Commissions through Official Gazette Notifications.
  • A State Human Rights Commission can inquire into violation of human rights only in respect of subjects mentioned in the State List (List-II) and the Concurrent List (List-III) of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
  • However, if any such case is already being inquired into by the National Human Rights Commission or any other Statutory Commission, then the State Human Rights Commission does not inquire into that case.

Composition Of The Commission

  • The State Human Rights Commission is a multi-member body consisting of a chairperson and two members.
  • The chairperson should be a retired Chief Justice or a Judge of a High Court and members should be a serving or retired judge of a High Court or a District Judge in the state with a minimum of 7 years experience as District Judge and a person having knowledge or practical experience with respect to human rights.
  • The chairperson and members are appointed by the Governor on the recommendations of a committee consisting of the chief minister as its head, the speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the state home minister and the leader of the opposition in the Legislative Assembly.

Term And Eligibility Of Chairperson

  • The chairperson and members hold office for a term of three years or until they attain the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.
  • They are eligible for re-appointment.
  • After their tenure, the chairperson and members are not eligible for further employment under a state government or the Central government.

Removal of the chairperson

  • Although the chairperson and members of a State Human Rights Commission are appointed by the governor, they can be removed only by the President (and not by the governor).
  • The President can remove them on the same grounds and in the same manner as he can remove the chairperson or a member of the National Human Rights Commission.
  • Thus, he can remove the chairperson or a member under the following circumstances:
    • If he is adjudged an insolvent; or
    • If he engages, during his term of office, in any paid employment outside the duties of his office; or
    • If he is unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body; or
    • If he is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court; or
    • If he is convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for an offence.
  • In addition to these, the president can also remove the chairperson or a member on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.

Salary and allowances

  • The salaries, allowances and other conditions of service of the chairperson or a member are determined by the state government.
  • But, they cannot be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment.

Functions of the commission

  • To encourage the efforts of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in the field of human rights.
  • To inquire into any violation of human rights or negligence in the prevention of such violation by a public servant, either suo motu or on a petition presented to it or on an order of a court.
  • To spread human rights literacy among the people and promote awareness of the safeguards available for the protection of these rights.
  • To visit jails and detention places to study the living conditions of inmates and make recommendation thereon.
  • To intervene in any proceeding involving allegation of violation of human rights pending before a court.
  • To review the factors including acts of terrorism that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend remedial measures.
  • To review the constitutional and other legal safeguards for the protection of human rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation.
  • To undertake and promote research in the field of human rights.
  • To undertake such other functions as it may consider necessary for the promotion of human rights.

Human Rights Courts

  • The Protection of Human Rights Act (1993) also provides for the establishment of Human Rights Court in every district for the speedy trial of violation of human rights.
  • These courts can be set up by the state government only with the concurrence of the Chief Justice of the High Court of that state.

For every Human Rights Court, the state government specifies a public prosecutor or appoints an advocate (who has practiced for seven years) as a special public prosecutor.

 

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