To live with dignity, there are certain basic rights and freedoms are essential to possess, which all human beings are entitled to, these basic rights are called Human Rights. Human Rights are made to protect human beings from infringement of their basic and fundamental rights as prescribed under the Constitution of India.
There are six fundamental rights in India such as Right to Equality, Right to Freedom, Right against Exploitation, Right to Freedom of Religion, Cultural and Educational Rights, and Right to Constitutional Remedies.
The government is making its headway towards several initiatives for the development programs and give protection to the inherent dignity of human beings are born with. What Human rights demand is acknowledgment and respect for the intrinsic dignity to ensure that everyone is protected against abuses that undermine their dignity and give the opportunities they need to realize their full potential without feeling classism.
‘The recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and the rights which cannot be transferred, sold or surrendered of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.’
This Human Rights comprises a 3 Generation system. First Generation is civil and political rights (right to life and political participation), second-generation is economic, social and cultural rights (right to subsistence) and third-generation is solidarity rights (right to peace, right to clean environment and to development).
According to Section 2(1) (d) of Protection of Human Rights Act 1993, the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the constitution or embodied in the International Covenants are enforceable by courts of India.
Why Amendment is brought?
To make the NHRC more Powerful and efficient the Act associated with it(i.e the Protection of Human Rights Act,1993) got amended by the Rajya Sabha & Lok Sabha. By being vested on with more Administrative and Financial powers on it through the amendment Bill. The Amendment Bill which later on called Human Rights (Amendment) Bill,2019.
Considering various issues presented by Central Govt., State Government as well as other ministers from opposing parties, on the date of 8th July 2019 The Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Amit Shah introduced the Amendment Bill of the existing Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. In the Bill, he focused on expediting the process of appointment of chairperson and members having profound knowledge on the Human Rights of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
Again, The NHRC had proposed certain amendments to the Act to address the concerns raised at certain global platforms. Further, certain State Governments have also proposed for amendment of the Act, as they have been facing difficulties in finding suitable candidates to the post of Chairperson of the respective State Commissions possessing the existing eligibility criteria to the said post.
Some demands raised by the opposition Parties are-
According to Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM), that the chairperson of the NHRC should be from the national commission for minorities, also he entrusted the point that OBC will also be considered as Minority class according to the provision of Indian Law.
Further, Supriya Sule (NCP) was of the view that the NHRC and science were getting challenged and “what Vikas were we talking about?”
Also, Owaisi asked the government “Why do you want to put the MPs of the ruling party in NHRC” and also asked the Centre to frame a legation to prevent mob lynching. Again he said to date NHRC has been bestowed with A rating and in the “coming days also the A rating would be maintained.”
Keeping in the view all these concerns, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Shri Nityanand Rai said that the Amendment had been prepared based on the challenges faced in the last thirteen years, and it will help in increasing the efficiency of the Commission. Giving clarification on the transparency of the selection process for the Chairperson and Members of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Shri Amit Shah said that the selection committee was a diverse one, containing opposition leaders from both the houses in addition to the Prime Minister; Union Home Minister; Speaker, Lok Sabha, and Deputy Chairperson, Rajya Sabha. A decision of such a vast and diverse committee should not be seen with distrust, said Shri Shah.
Changes brought to light & the repercussion on Society of the Act
Several Changes have been brought to sight through this Amendment Bill to the Human Rights Protection Act1993.
As the Amendments made to lighten the tightness of selection procedures of Chairpersons for several departments including for the National Commission for minorities,
Here is some insertion, deletion, and modification made to the Principal Act.
Under Section 2 (i) (b), in the Principal Act,1993 there was mentioned about the requirement of a Chairperson in State Commission or any other commission, but in the amendment bill, another clause was added to it i.e (ba) which says,“Chief Commissioner” means the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities referred to in sub-section (1) of section 74 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
Again, the clause (ga) raised voice about “Chief Commissioner”. It means the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities should be appointed according to the new Bill as the definition of Disabled Persons is mentioned in sub-section (1) of section 74 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
Along with the above-mentioned additions, there is an urge to add another commission under subsection (ha) that is “National Commission for Protection of Child Rights”.
Section-3 speaks about the Constitution of a National Human Rights Commission, where it has mentioned certain guidelines to be followed while appointing the chairpersons and the members of the commissions. In the Principal Act under subsection 2 (a)it was prescribed The Commission shall consist of— (a) a Chairperson who has been a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which afterward by the amendment Act has been changed to“ A Chairperson who has been a Chief Justice of India of the Supreme Court has replaced.”
Also, to consist of a commission, there was a requirement of engaging two members having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights in the Principal Act. While in the Amendment Bill is introduced the number of candidates will be 3 among which at least one shall be a Woman.
Further, under Sub-section (3) by amending the Principal Act, the new additions made are, “The Chairpersons of the National Commission for Minorities, the National Commission for Backward Classes i.e[the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes, the National Commission for the Scheduled Tribes], the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, and ‘the National Commission for Women and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities’ shall be deemed to be Members of the Commission for the discharge of functions.” Whereas Section 4says “There shall be a Chairperson appointed for the National Commission for Minorities, “shall, subject to the control of the Chairperson, exercise all administrative and financial powers (except judicial functions and the power to make regulations under section 40B).”
About the Term of office of Chairperson and Members of National Human Rights Commission and State- Commission, the Bill reduced the tenure from 5 years to 3 years also instead of getting retired between the age of 70, now he is eligible to elect for re-appointment. Again sub-section (2) says, A person appointed as a Member shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall be eligible for re-appointment. (Section-6) (Section-24).
About the Constitution of State Human Rights Commission as described in Section 21of the Principal Act, The Chairperson has to be a Chief Justice of High Court but in the new Bill of Amendment it is A chief Justice or a Judge of a High Court can be a Chairperson of the State Commission. Again, the chief executive officer of the State Commission shall, subject to the control of the Chairperson, exercise all administrative and financial powers of the State Commission. Another Sub-section added to it by the Amendment Bill,2019 which says “the Central Government may, by order, confer upon the State Commission the functions relating to human rights being discharged by the Union territories, other than the Union territory of Delhi.” But the functions relating to human rights in the case of Union Territory of Delhi shall be dealt with by the National Human Rights Commission.
The Principal Act “Protection of Human Rights Act” 1993 was enacted to provide for the constitution of a National Human Rights Commission, State Human Rights Commissions in States and Human Rights Courts for better protection of human rights and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
The above-mentioned steps are taken to curtail the difficulties while appointing the Chairperson of the State Human Rights Commission and National Human Rights Commission. This is the main issue raised by the Party members and opposing party members.
“The views of the authors are personal“
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Human Rights is essential?
Human rights guarantees people the required means to satisfy their basic needs, like food, housing, and education, so they can take full advantage of all opportunities. Finally, by guaranteeing life, liberty, equality, and security, human rights protect people against abuse by those that are more powerful.
India being a democratic country provides such rights to its citizens and allows them certain rights including the liberty of expression. These rights, which are called ‘Fundamental Rights’ form an important part of the Constitution of India. As human beings, we have the right to enjoy these rights.