Lok Sabha passed Protection of Human Rights(Amendment) Bill 2019 by voice vote. The Bill amends Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 which provides statutory backing for National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), State Human Rights Commissions (SHRC), as well as Human Rights Courts. The Bill aims to expedite process of appointment of chairperson and members of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for "round-the-clock" protection human rights.
Key Features of Bill
- Composition of NHRC: The Bill amends parent Act to allow appointment of person who has been Chief Justice of Supreme Court, or a Judge of Supreme Court as Chairperson of the NHRC. Earlier, person who has been Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was only eligible for post of chairperson of the NHRC.
- Members of NHRC: The Bill allows appointment of three members, of which at least one will be a woman as members of NHRC. The parent Act earlier provided for two persons having knowledge of human rights to be appointed as members of the NHRC.
- The Bill also provides for including chairpersons of National Commission for Backward Classes, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, and Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities as members of the NHRC.
- Chairperson of SHRC: The Bill allows appointment of person who has been Chief Justice or Judge of a High Court as chairperson of a SHRC. Earlier, person who has been Chief Justice of High Court was only eligible for post of chairperson of the SHRC.
- Term of office: The bill reduces the term of office of chairperson and members of the NHRC and SHRC to 3 years (from earlier 5 years) or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier. The Bill also removes provision of five-year limit for reappointment of members of the NHRC and SHRCs.
- Powers of Secretary-General: The Bill expands powers of Secretary-General and Secretary to exercise all administrative and financial powers (except judicial functions), subject to respective chairperson’s control.
- Jurisdiction over Union Territories: The Bill provides that Central government may confer on SHRC human rights functions being discharged by UTs. It also provides for functions related to human rights in the case of Delhi will be dealt with by the NHRC.