Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the Protection of Human Rights (Amendments) Bill, 2018 for better protection and promotion of human rights in the country. Some of the salient features are:

  • It proposes to include “National Commission for Protection of Child Rights” as deemed Member of the Commission;
  • It proposes to add a woman Member in the composition of the Commission;
  • It proposes to enlarge the scope of eligibility and scope of selection of Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission as well as the State Human Rights Commission;
  • It proposes to incorporate a mechanism to look after the cases of human rights violation in the Union Territories.
  • It proposes to amend the term of office of Chairperson and Members of National Human Rights Commission and State Human Rights Commission to make it in consonance with the terms of Chairperson and Members of other Commissions.

Benefits: The Amendment will strengthen the Human Rights Institutions of India further for effective discharge of their mandates, roles and responsibilities. Moreover, the amended Act will be in perfect sync with the agreed global standards and benchmarks towards ensuring the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual in the country.

Background: The amendment to the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 will make National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) more compliant with the Paris Principle concerning its autonomy, independence, pluralism and wide-ranging functions in order to effectively protect and promote human rights.

Cabinet

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Vineet Kothari, J., decided a writ petition filed under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution, wherein the Court quashed the penalty imposed by the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission upon the petitioner-Inspector of Police; holding such power to be ultra vires.

A penalty of Rupees Ten thousand was imposed on the petitioner on the ground of service deficiency in arresting two juveniles and producing them as adults before the competent court instead of the Juvenile Justice Board. Learned counsel for the petitioner argued that Section 18 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, permits the Human Rights Commission only to recommend the government or authority concerned to make payment of compensation to the victim or his family. However, vide the impugned order, the Commission imposed a penalty of Rupees Ten thousand and further directed it to be deducted from salary of the petitioner. The counsel prayed for quashing of the said order.

The High Court perused the record and considered the submissions made on behalf of the parties. The Court also perused Section 18 of the said Act and found favour with the contentions of learned counsel for the petitioner mentioned hereinabove. The Court was of the opinion that the impugned order passed by the Commission could not be construed to be in the nature of mere recommendations as envisaged in the section. On the contrary, it imposed penalty and directed its recovery from the petitioner, which power is not conferred to the Commission under Section 18 of the Act.

Consequently, the Court allowed the writ petition and quashed the impugned order. [Venkatesh v. State of Karnataka, WP No. 55766 of 2016 (GM-RES), order dated 13.2.2018]