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Report No. 277

D. Human Rights Commissions

4.79 The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and State Human Rights Commissions (SHRCs) established, under The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, have the power to inquire suo motu or on petitions filed for matters pertaining to human rights violations, which is often the case in matters of illegal detentions, wrongful investigations, incarcerations etc. However, it is pertinent to note that under the Act 1993, if the NHRC or a SHRC through inquiries has proven certain human rights violations or negligence in the prevention of violation of human rights or abatement by a public servant, it may only recommend to the concerned Government or authority to pay compensation to the victims or to prosecute the concerned wrongdoer (Section 18).

4.80 The Act 1993 does not specify if these recommendations are binding on the Government, nor does it empower the NHRC or SHRCs to give any directions to the Government or authorities in this regard. So, while every death in police and judicial custody is to be reported to the NHRC for scrutiny, irrespective of whether such death was natural or otherwise131, its role and powers are limited to advising the government to prosecute the concerned persons or grant relief to the victim. This lack of power to obtain compliance makes this remedy inefficacious on both the fronts - compensating the victim and holding the concerned public servant accountable.

4.81 As is evident from the NHRC's Annual Report for the year 2015 - 2016, in which out of a total of 332 recommendations of compensation made during the said year, 229 (i.e. 69%) recommendations remained not complied with by the concerned Government or authorities.132 Though dealing with one of the most crucial aspects of Rule of Law i.e. Human Rights and its violations, this dependence of the NHRC on the Government or authorities for execution of relief or proceedings makes it a rather weak institution/mechanism.

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