NHRC turns 25, PM to attend silver jubilee day function

NHRC turns 25, PM to attend silver jubilee day function

The National Human Rights Commission, which has served as a "watchdog of democracy" and been part of some landmark cases in which its intervention had significant impact, Friday completed 25 years.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to attend the Silver Jubilee Foundation day function being hosted by the NHRC at the Vigyan Bhawan Friday evening.

The commission was established on October 12, 1993 under the Protection of the Human Rights (PHR) Act, 1993, and it has lined up a host of activities till Sunday to mark the occasion.

"The prime minister will grace the occasion in the presence of Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Communications Manoj Sinha.

"A commemorative first day postal cover and stamp will be released, besides the launching of a new version of the commission's website," a senior NHRC official said.

The rights panel has five members, including the chairperson, who deliberate upon the cases put before them, currently post of two of the members are vacant, he said.

The NHRC, in the run-up to the jubilee, has already hosted a number of programmes, including an international conclave on human rights, panel discussion on role of media in context of human rights, painting competition and slogan and logo making contest.

The panel had recently unveiled its special silver jubilee logo and also commissioned a documentary, titled 'NHRC: 25 years, Billion Hopes' capturing the 25 years of its journey, from its humble beginning in Sardar Patel Bhawan.

"The film captures the journey of the NHRC from its humble beginning in 1993 to its present stature, references some of the landmark cases in which NHRC's intervention had made significant impact and the backstory of how the redressal system works," the senior official said.

Currently, housed in a modern high-rise building complex -- Manav Adhikar Bhawan -- in south Delhi, it has received "over 17.5 lakh grievances" from people across the country since its inception, the most from Uttar Pradesh.

Some of the cases referred to in the film in which NHRC had intervened include the Nandigram violence in West Bengal, Salwa Judum-related incidents in Chhattisgarh and the issue of silicosis.

NHRC either takes suo motu cognisance of cases through media reports or complaint filed by a victim or any other person on his or her behalf or on the basis of reports received from the police department, as in the case of encounters, where the police, as per the guidelines is supposed to inform the commission.

In recent times, the rights panel has taken cognisance in the case of killing of 10 people in police firing during anti-Sterlite protest in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, and intervened in the case of killing of Rising Kashmir editor Shujaat Bukhari after an appeal via press, by a network of editors and media practitioners, which had urged the NHRC and the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission to push for a swift probe into the case.

It has also sent notices to the Centre and the chairman of the SAIL over the death of 11 workers in a recent blast at the steel major's Bhilai plant in Chhattisgarh.

Disposal of more than 17 lakh cases, payment of more than one billion rupees to the victims of human rights violations by various state agencies on the recommendations of the Commission, and more than 750 on-spot inquiries, cap the 25 years of NHRC's work for the cause, the official said.

As part of the extended jubilee celebrations, on Saturday the Commission is organizing a 'Human Rights Mela' and 'Human Rights Street Theatre Festival' at the amphitheatre arena of Central Park in Connaught Place, and 'Human Rights Walk' on Sunday to generate awareness about various aspects of human rights.

In 2016, NHRC chief justice H L Dattu on the occasion of its foundation day, had pitched for vesting it with "more power", saying the rights watchdog should "roar like a tiger".