THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS ACT AMENDMENT BILL 2019

Author: Kshitij Kothari, 1st Year, B.A LL.B (Hons), School of Law, Jagran Lakecity University, Bhopal. The Author has written the article while pursuing the internship programme with us. INTRODUCTION TO HUMAN RIGHTS Human rights are the inalienable rights which are accessable to all the human beings, regardless of religion, ethnicity, race, sex, nationality, language, or any other status. Human rights includes rights such as right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and right to education, etc. Every human being in this world is entitled to these rights, without any discrimination. The principle part of law was adopted in 1945 and 1948 by the General Assembly respectively are part of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since then, the United Nations has extensively encompassed human rights law to specific standards for women, children, and persons with disabilities, minorities and other vulnerable groups, who now possess rights that protect them from discrimination that had long been common in many societies. THE ENACTMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN INDIA Paris Principle The features of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) are defined by domestic law. However, certain guidelines are established by the UN which are called the Paris Principles, which set out the minimum provisions required for NHRI to function competently and be considered credible. The guidelines were framed in a meeting where representatives of Human Rights from world-wide were grouped together to develop the essential elements that all developed or underdeveloped organisations must adapt, held in Paris in 1991. According to the Paris principles, there are 5 main stipulations for a NHRI to operate efficiently. NHRI can advise the government, Parliament, and other public or private bodies on Human Rights both on request and on their initiative. They can also alert, access, and advise the government concerning the infringement of Human Rights in the country. NHRI can examine and recommend changes to the state’s legislation, regulation, and practices to ensure that these are synchronized with rights as per international standards. NHRI has a clear mandate to interact with the UN and other international organizations, regional bodies, international and national civil society organizations, and other national Institutions. NHRI should help to formulate and execute the program for Human Rights on education and research. NHRI also has an optional quasi-judicial competence which includes the handling and investigation of individual complaints and petitions. UN and Human Rights Commission of India In accordance with the Paris principles which were adopted for shielding the human rights in Paris in October 1991 and approved by the overall assembly of the UN council on 20th December 1993, India’s human rights act is also based on the same principles. Introduction to NHRC 1993 The National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) which was adopted in 1993 is responsible for the protections and assistance of human rights defined by the act as rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of a person pledged by the constitution or intercontinental pact. NHRC is an authorized organisation established on 12 October 1991 as clause of protection of human rights act 1993 later amended in 2006 and 2019 respectively. The President of India appoints the chairman and members of the NHRC on the recommendation of an authoritarian committee consisting of: The Prime Minister (Chairperson) The Home Minister The speaker of the Lok Sabha The leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha The leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha INTRODUCTION TO NHRC AMENDMENT BILL 2019 The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha on 8 July 2019 by our Home Minister, Mr. Amit Shah The bill was first passed by the Lok Sabha untimely on July 19 through a voice vote. After the Rajya Sabha approved it unanimously on July 22, 2019, Parliament approved the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill 2019. The bill proposes to amend for the components provided for a National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), State Human Rights Commissions (SHRC), along with Human Rights Courts. Composition of NHRC through amendment Prior to the amendment, CJIs for NHRC and CJs of High Courts were qualified for appointment as chairperson. But with the introduction of the bill, a person who has been the Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court is now eligible to become the chairperson of NHRC. Likewise, judges of the High Court are also eligible to become the chairperson of SHRC. The bill also presents for another three members resulting in a total of 8 members, out of which at least one member should be a woman. The bill also proposes to appoint the chairperson for the newly established body namely; the National Commission for Backward Classes, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights and a Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities as profound Members of the established body. Terms of office The Act before the amendment presents that the Chairperson, Members of the Commission and the State Commissions will appointed for five years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier but in contrast, the Bill proposed to reduce the term to three years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier. Further, the bill also permits for the reappointment of Members of the Commission and the State Commissions for indefinite periods of time. Thus amending the five years limit. Power of secretary general The Act provides administrative, financial and judiciary functions entrusted to the Secretary-General of the NHRC and Secretary of SHRC. However the revised Bill allows the Secretary-General and Secretary to practice all the powers except for the judicial functions. Human Rights Court In order to initiate immediate trails in every district of India, the act 1993 provides for the formation of a human rights court for preventing the transgression of human rights. These courts can be established with the ratification of the CJ of High Courts of that particular state by the state government. But these changes were not seen in many of the states of India as not much value has been given to these institutions therefore, no speedy progress of courts have been established in more of the states. But the government has promised to do this work more speedy and will form a special committee to glance into the matter for establishing these courts. Changes for union territories As specified in the Bill by the Union Minister, the petitioners in Union Territories can appeal to the adjacent state’s Human Rights Commission, instead of coming to Delhi. Previously, in the earlier act this assistance was not provided. OBJECTIVES BEHIND THE AMENDMENT OF THE ACT The primary purpose of the Union government of amending the bill was that, when the act was amended way back in 2006 and in span of thirteen years the situation had changed leading to increment in criminal acts against human beings, therefore to omit those acts, the central government was in urged to amend and increase the proficiency of the act with greater benefits. Furthermore, the bill focused on increasing the efficiency of the appointment of the chairperson of NHRC and SHRC respectively. The government also focused on the administration of NHRC as when it was made the circumstances were different which are not in accordance with the present situations. Another reason behind the same was to accord the act with international standards, acquainted with the doctrine of Paris Principles. Moreover, the newly formed act will touch the bars of international criterion, ensuring the provisions of right to life, liberty, equality and dignity of an individual. OVERLOOKED RECOMMENDATIONS The Congress MP Vivek Tankha contended that if a Chief Justice of India is not available for the post, then there is an option to appoint a Supreme Court judge. But there is no clarity that if there is an existing Chief Justice, will he be overlooked and a certain hand-picked judge is appointed chairman. Jurist-judge V R Krishna Iyer called it “the biggest post office in India”. Other practical setbacks include: expanding the appointment of ex officio members, non-filling of vacancies, inadequacy of funds, political interference, etc. CONCLUSION Human Rights are an essential part of every human being in order to shield them from the criminal injustice and also serves as a tool to redress their grievances to the courts established by the law. But the present status of human rights in India remains as bad, if not worse as it was before the foundation of NHRC. The Human Rights inspection has drawn attention towards Human Rights contraventions and many criminal cases are still pending before the respected courts which in result have worsened the shape of HRs in India. Amending laws without any necessary provisions will not work. Thus, necessary steps are vital in order to make the public aware about their own rights. It is unfortunate that, the amendments which were illustrated by the then government were unable to address the problem. The present exemptions are challenging and are hard to achieve but including an essence of human rights in the guidelines of educational centers can help in acquainting people about human rights. The amendments presented were made with regards to NHRC were vital; however more depth research needs to be done, in order to assign NHRC with its kosher role within the eventuality of India. The practise to respect human rights will take years, no doubt , but believe me the society is making themselves aware about human rights, and are objectifying for things which go against them. Furthermore, the government must frame a digital page on which the citizens, activists and even the students can recommend on how they want the act must be framed.And with that I must conclude my article by phrasing the lines given by nobel laureate Mother Teresa that “Human Rights are not a privilege conferred by the government. They are every human being’s entitlement by the virtue of his humanity”. Disclaimer: Views and opinions as expressed in the Research Articles are solely of the author and any member of the core team of the website shall not be liable for the same.

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