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National Human Rights Commission

The NHRC cannot by itself punish the guilty. That is the responsibility of courts. The NHRC is there to make independent and credible inquiry into any case of violation of human rights. It also inquires into any case of abetment of such violation or negligence in controlling it by any government officer and takes other general steps to promote human rights in the country. The Commission presents its findings and recommendations to the government or intervenes in the court on behalf of the victims. It has wide ranging powers to carry out its inquiry. Like any court it can summon witnesses, question any government official, demand any official paper, visit any prison for inspection or send its own team for on-the-spot inquiry.

Any citizen of India can write a letter to this address to complain against the violation of human rights: National Human Rights Commission, Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110001. There is no fee or any formal procedure to approach the NHRC. Like NHRC, there are State Human Rights Commissions in 14 states of the country the riots

In Gujarat in 2002 a large number of cases were filed in the courts against those accused of rioting and massacre of nearly 2000 persons, mostly Muslims. Human rights organisations and the media were saying that the state government was not serious about pursuing these cases or catching the culprits. Someone had to intervene on behalf of the victims. This is where the National Human Rights Commission stepped in. This is an independent commission set up by law in 1993. Like judiciary, the Commission is independent of the government. The Commission is appointed by the President and includes retired judges, officers and eminent citizens. Yet it does not have the burden of deciding court cases. So it can focus on helping the victims secure their human rights. These include all the rights granted to the citizens by the Constitution. For NHRC human rights also include the rights mentioned in the UN sponsored international treaties that India has signed.


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