NHRC and the Chakmas’ Case - UPSC Current Affairs

NHRC and the Chakmas’ Case - UPSC Current Affairs

In today’s edition of our Current Affairs Dialog box we will discuss NHRC and the Chakmas’ Case in detail.

Navigate through the article to get useful insights on the topic and enhance your UPSC preparation. Its relevance to the CSE syllabus is mentioned below:

For Prelims: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Chakma Tribe, Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA)

For Mains: Issues Related to Minorities, Human Rights

Context

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken action by asking the Deputy Commissioner of Arunachal Pradesh’s Changlang district to submit its Action Taken Report (ATR), on the complaint filed by the Chakma Development Foundation of India (CDFI), an NGO, alleging harassment and false prosecution. 

Probable Question

Do you think the National Human Rights Commission has been successful in playing its role in protection of human rights in India?

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About the Chakma Tribe

  • The Chakmas are basically migrants from the Chittagong Hill Tracts of erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.
  • They settled in Arunachal Pradesh from 1964 to 1969 after they got displaced by the Kaptai dam on the Karnaphuli River in the 1960s.
  • Mainly, they live in the Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The larger majority of the Buddhist Chakmas also reside in Mizoram and Tripura.
  • Chakmas are facing severe harassment, since their migration.
  • They were given Indian citizenship by the Supreme Court, in 2015 and by the Centre in 2017 under Section 5(i)(a) of the Citizenship Act.
  • This decision is constantly opposed by the State as they believe that would adversely affect its demography and stretch its limited resources.

About National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is a statutory body, established under the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993.
  • It was amended by the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2006 (PHRA).
  • It falls under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Its aim is to promote and protect human rights.
  • Human Rights in the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993:
    • Section 2 of the PHRA defines human rights as the rights relating to life, liberty, equality, and dignity of the individual guaranteed under the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India. 
    • Whereas “International Covenants” means the International Covenant on Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966.
  • Members of NHRC:

The Commission consists of a Chairperson, five full-time Members, and seven deemed or ex officio Members:

  • Its Chairperson is the former Chief Justice or a judge of the Supreme Court.
  • One member who is or has been the judge of the Supreme Court. 
  • One member who is or has been the Chief Justice of a High Court.
  • Three members from amongst persons, who have knowledge or practical experience in relating matters to human rights, out of which one must be a woman.
  • Seven ex-officio members, among the chairpersons of various commissions;
    • The Chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities.
    • The Chairperson of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes
    • The Chairperson of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
    • The Chairperson of the National Commission for Women
    • The Chairperson of the National Commission for Backward Classes,
    • The Chairperson of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights
    • The Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities
  • Tenure of Members:
    • A term of 3 years or until the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier, for both Chairperson and members.
    • The President can also remove them before their tenure, under some specified circumstances.

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Powers and Functions of NHRC

The functions of the Commission as stated in Section 12 of the PHRA act are 

  • Suggest the effective implementation and recommendation of treaties and international instruments on human rights.
  • Any complaints or judicial processes related to violations of Human Rights in India can be investigated by NHRC either suo-moto or after receiving a petition.
  • It can observe the living conditions of inmates of any prison/institute by visiting there and can make recommendations based on its observations.
  • It can review and suggest suitable steps to the provisions of the Constitution that safeguard Human Rights to both Central as well as State Governments.
  • It can research, create awareness, and literacy in the field of Human Rights is also promoted by the NHRC.
  • Every year, NHRC gives an annual report to the President of India, which is laid before both the Houses of the Parliament.

Limitations of NHRC

  • NHRC’s recommendations are not binding.
  • Any violation of Human rights by private parties is not considered under NHRC Jurisdiction.
  • No power to penalize the authorities even if they don’t implement its recommended orders.
  • Other members that are recommended by the Selection Committee may not necessarily be Human Rights experts.
  • The NHRC does not consider cases older than a year or more, any anonymous, pseudonymous, or vague cases, Frivolous cases, and cases pertaining to service matters cannot be considered by the NHRC.
  • It has limited jurisdiction over cases related to armed forces.
  • Other issues that affect NHRC functioning – bureaucratic functioning style, excess cases/complaints, insufficient funds, etc.

Way Forward

  • As time changes there is a need to change or amend some old and archaic laws under the act to make it more effective.
  • There is also a need to include people from civil society, or some NGOs working for human rights to bring more ground reality.
  • To strengthen the law, it should be made more enforceable. 
Additional Information

NHRC was established in conformity with the Paris Principles.

The Paris Principles were adopted for the promotion and protection of human rights in Paris (October 1991) and were endorsed by the UN General Assembly on 20 December 1993.

The Paris Principles set out six main criteria that National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) require to meet – Mandate and competence, Autonomy from Government, Independence guaranteed by a Statute or Constitution, Pluralism, Adequate resources; and Adequate powers of investigation.

Source: The Hindu 

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