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Delay in establishment of Human Rights Court

Published: 26th Jul, 2019

The Supreme Court has recently asked from the Union government, States and the Union Territories administration on the prolonged delay observed in establishing exclusive human rights courts in each district.


The Supreme Court has recently asked from the Union government, States and the Union Territories administration on the prolonged delay observed in establishing exclusive human rights courts in each district.


  • India is a party to International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted by the General Assembly of United Nations on 16 December, 1966.
  • The Human Rights Act calls for establishment of special courts in each district to deal with the cases related to the abuse of human rights.
  • Such Courts have been established in many states which are inclusive of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh and Assam.
  • Section 30 of the Act envisages that a State government, with the concurrence of the Chief Justice of High Court, by notification, specify for each district a court of session as a court of human rights for the speedy trial of violation of rights.
  • Section 31 of the Act provides the State government to specify and appoint a special public prosecutor in that court.
  • Section 2 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 -“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.
  • Section 21 of the act provides for establishment of state Human Rights Commission headed by Chairperson who shall be retired Chief justice of a High Court, there shall be one other member who shall be a judge either in High Court or district Court.
  • The State Commission shall inquire only into matters listed in List II and List III of seventh schedule.
  • The chairperson of commission shall be appointed by the Chief Minister, the members shall be appointed by speaker of legislative assembly, minister in charge of department of home and leader of opposition.

Why were the exclusive human rights courts not established?

  • So far the gross human rights violations were mostly getting punished under the criminal courts as considering the penal offence.
  • Largely at Public and civil society level, role of NHRC and SHRC was sought to be a panacea instead of bottom up - district led exclusive Human rights Court.
  • Weak financial and administrative support of respective State High Courts.
  • Low and superficial awareness campaigns.
  • A lot of Public debate has been on 'specific events - like Mob Lynching, Dalit atrocities etc' thus missing the comprehensive picture.

How Judiciary can provide for the adjudicating the case of Human Rights?

It may not always be possible to implement of codify the entire requisite or the probable laws to get formulated or anticipated in the manner for the protection up of the Human Rights.

Thus the role of our Indian Judiciary comes into the existence when it is enumerated about the principles of natural justice as due process of Law will govern and adjudicate for the protection and promotion of the rights of the people when they have suffered violations of the their rights and when to protect it no legislation has been framed.

Judiciary don’t let anybody’s rights get infringed, rather protects them taking the issuance of the principles of natural justice.

The above reasons are a prime factor behind combined faith in favour of District led exclusive Human rights court.

What actions has government taken in this matter?

Despite existence of clause in Human Rights Act, the Union government can and has at times, at best only requested states to take steps to create the institution.

Division and Power and federalism do not allow the Union to impose a particular structure.

However, to streamline these judicial issues, All India Judicial Services have been gaining a wider traction. But this would require Constitutional amendment.

Human rights Court and NHRC/SHRC

Human Rights Court, when gets established will surely be having the status of a Court to adjudicate the justice for the Human Rights issues, and thus would be different body from the Human Rights Commission whether National or the State level.

Additional Pointers:

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

  • It was established in 1993 under a legislation enacted by the Parliament, namely, the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
  • It is a statutory body.
  • In 1993, the UN General Assembly adopted the Paris Principles on Human Rights. This led to the constitution of national human rights institutions in almost every country.
  • The commission is a multi-member body consisting of a chairman and four members.
  • The commission’s headquarters is at Delhi and it can also establish offices at other places in India.
  • The Commission has its own investigating staff headed by a Director General of Police for investigation into complaints of human rights violations. Under the Act, it is open to the Commission to utilise the services of any officer or investigation agency of the Central Government or any State Government.
  • The Commission has associated, in a number of cases, non – Governmental organizations in the investigation work.

Powers relating to inquiries

  • While inquiring into complaints under the Act, the Commission shall have all the powers of a civil court trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, and in particular the following, namely;
  • Summoning and enforcing the attendance of witnesses and examining them on oath;
  • discovery and production of any document;
  • receiving evidence on affidavits;
  • requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office;
  • issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses or documents;
  • any other matter which may be prescribed.

Limitations of NHRC:

  • NHRC’s recommendations are not binding
  • NHRC cannot penalise authorities who do not implement its orders
  • JK is out of its jurisdiction
  • NHRC jurisdiction does not cover human right violations by private parties
  • 3/5 of members are judges, leading to more judicial touch to its functioning
  • 2/5 of the members are also not Human Right experts. Political appointments.

Verifying, please be patient.

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