India’s NHRC Faces Scrutiny: Upholding Human Rights Standards Amidst Accreditation Challenges

Featured & Cover India's NHRC Faces Scrutiny Upholding Human Rights Standards Amidst Accreditation Challenges

**Enhancing Human Rights Oversight: India’s NHRC in Focus**

The establishment of the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) in accordance with the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (PHRA) was a significant step towards safeguarding human rights within the nation. Enacted on 28th September 1993, the PHRA delineates the framework for the constitution of the NHRC, State Human Rights Commissions, and Human Rights Courts, with the aim of bolstering human rights protection and related matters.

According to Section 2(d) of the PHRA, human rights encompass “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 India.” These international covenants, as defined in Section 2(f), include agreements such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966.

The PHRA also outlines the functions of the NHRC in Section 12, affirming its role in upholding human rights standards. Furthermore, the Central Government has the authority to notify additional covenants or conventions aimed at strengthening civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, aligning with international norms endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly.

The NHRC’s accreditation status holds immense significance in the global human rights landscape. The commission attained ‘A’ status accreditation from the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) in 1999, indicating full compliance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) principles and the 1993 ‘Paris Principles’. The accreditation process, conducted every five years, involves rigorous review and peer assessment to ensure adherence to international standards.

India’s retention of ‘A’ status accreditation through successive reviews until 2017 underscored its commitment to human rights values. The accreditation not only facilitates India’s active participation in UN forums but also enhances its credibility on the global stage. However, recent developments have raised concerns regarding NHRC’s autonomy and effectiveness in addressing human rights violations.

The denial of ‘A’ status accreditation in the latest review held on May 1, 2024, signals a critical juncture for the NHRC. Issues such as transparency in member appointments, the presence of police officers in human rights investigations, and inadequate gender and minority representation have been cited as areas needing improvement. These shortcomings challenge the commission’s ability to uphold the ‘Paris Principles’ and maintain independence from governmental influence.

The inclusion of Manusmriti references in NHRC’s official brochure has sparked controversy due to its conflicting principles with constitutional values. While Manusmriti offers insights into ancient Indian literature, its endorsement by the NHRC raises concerns about religious bias and undermines the commission’s credibility in promoting modern human rights concepts.

To address these challenges, the NHRC must heed the recommendations of international bodies like the OHCHR and GANHRI, focusing on enhancing transparency, independence, and accountability. Additionally, proactive measures from state and central governments, along with judicial intervention, are essential to uphold human rights standards and restore India’s reputation in the global human rights arena.

Bolstering the NHRC’s functionality is imperative for advancing human rights in India and restoring the nation’s standing in the international community. By aligning its practices with constitutional values and international norms, the NHRC can play a pivotal role in ensuring justice, equality, and dignity for all individuals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Related Stories