FAQ

Bihar Human Rights Commission is an expression of Bihar's concern for the protection and promotion of human rights in the State. It came into existence in June, 2008.

 

How are human rights defined in the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 ?

 

In terms of Section 2(d) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (hereafter referred to as 'the Act'), "human rights" means 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. "International Covenants" means the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on the 16th December, 1966.

 

What functions have been assigned to the Commission under the Act?

 

The Commission shall, perform all or any of the following functions, namely:

  1. Inquire, on its own initiative or on a petition presented to it by a victim or any person on his behalf, into complaint of violation of human rights or abetment or negligence in the prevention of such violation,by a public servant;
  2. Intervene in any proceeding involving any allegation of violation of human rights pending before a court with the approval of such court;
  3. Visit, under intimation to the State Government, any jail or any other institution under the control of the State Government, where persons are detained or lodged for purposes of treatment, reformation or protection to study the living condition of the inmates and make recommendations thereon;
  4. Review the safeguards by or under the Constitution or any law for the time being in force for the protection of human rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation;
  5. Review the factors, including acts of terrorism that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend appropriate remedial measures;
  6. Study treaties and other international instruments on human rights and make recommendations for their effective implementation;
  7. Undertake and promote research in the field of human rights;
  8. Spread human rights literacy among various sections of society and promote awareness of the safeguards available for the protection of these rights through publications, the media, seminars and other available means;
  9. Encourage the efforts of Non-Governmental Organizations and institutions working in the field of human rights;
  10. Such other functions as it may consider necessary for the promotion of human rights.

What powers have been vested with the Commission relating to inquiries?

 

While inquiring into complaints under the Act, the Commission shall have all the powers of a civil court trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, and in particular the following, namely -

Does the Commission have its own investigation team?

 

Yes, the Commission has its own investigating staff headed by an Inspector General of Police for investigation into complaints of human rights violations. Under the Act, it is open to the Commission to utilize the services of any officer or investigation agency of the Central Govt. or any State Government. The Commission may associate Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the investigation work.

 

Is the Commission Autonomous?

 

Yes, the autonomy of the Commission derives, inter-alia, from the method of appointment of its Chairperson and Members, their fixity of tenure, and statutory guarantees thereto, the status they have been accorded and the manner in which the staff responsible to the Commission - including its investigative agency - are appointed and conduct themselves. The financial autonomy of the Commission is spelt out in Section 33 of the Act. The Chairperson and Members of the Commission are appointed by the Governor on the basis of recommendations of a Committee comprising the Chief Minister as the Chairperson, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Chairman of the Legislative Council, Home Minister and Leaders of the opposition in two Houses.

 

How does the Commission inquire into complaints?

 

The Commission while inquiring into complaints of violations of human rights may call for information or report from the Central Government or any State Government or any other authority or organization subordinate thereto within such time as may be specified by it; provided that if the information or report is not received within the time stipulated by the Commission, it may proceed to inquire into the complaint on its own; on the other hand, if, on receipt of information or report, the Commission is satisfied either that no further inquiry is required or that the required action has been initiated or taken by the concerned Government or authority, it may not proceed with the complaint and inform the complainant accordingly.

 

What steps are open to the Commission after inquiry?

 

The Commission may take any of the following steps upon the completion of an inquiry:

  1. Where the inquiry discloses the commission of violation of human right or negligence in the prevention of violation of human rights by a public servant, it may recommend to the concerned govt. or authority the initiation of proceedings for prosecution or such other action as the Commission may deem fit against the concerned person or persons;
  2. Approach the Supreme Court or the High Court concerned for such directions, orders or writs as that Court may deem necessary;
  3. Recommend to the concerned Government or authority for the grant of such immediate interim relief to the victim or the members of his family as the Commission may consider necessary.

What procedure is prescribed under the Act with respect to armed forces?

 

The State Commission can not entertain any complaint with respect to armed forces. The N.H.R.C. alone can entertain them under Section 19 of the Act.

 

Can the complaint be in any language?

 

They may ordinarily be filled in Hindi or in English or in any language included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution with the permission of the Commission. The complaints are expected to be self-contained. No fee is charged on complaints. The Commission may ask for further information and affidavits to be filed in support of allegations whenever considered necessary. The Commission may also accept telegraphic complaints and complaints conveyed through FAX or by e-mail.

 

What kind of complaints are not entertained by the Commission?

 

Ordinarily, complaints of the following nature are not entertained by the Commission:

  1. events which happened more than one year before the making of the complaints;
  2. with regard to matters which are sub-judice;
  3. which are vague, anonymous or pseudonymous;
  4. which are of frivolous nature;
  5. which pertain to service matters.
  6. which pertain to property dispute.

What is the responsibility of the Authority/State/Central Govts to which reports/recommendations have been send by the Commission?

 

The authority/State Government/Central Government has to indicate its comments/action taken on the report/recommendations of the Commission within a period of one month in respect of general complaints and within three months in respect of complaints relating to armed forces.

 

What are the kinds of issues on which complaints have been received?

 

Since its inception, the Commission has handled a variety of types of complaints. The major types of complaints are:

Many other complaints which cannot be categorized, have also been taken up.

 

What has been focus of the Commissionís Working?

 

Inquiring into complaints is one of the major activities of the Commission. In several instances individual complaints have led the Commission to the generic issues involved in violation of rights, and enabled it to move the concerned authorities for systemic improvements. However, the Commission also actively seeks out issues in human rights which are of significance, either suo motu, or when brought to its notice by the civil society, the media, concerned citizens, or expert advisers. Its focus is to strengthen the extension of human rights to all sections of society, in particular, the vulnerable groups. The Commission's purview covers the entire range of civil and political, as well as economic, social and cultural rights. Areas facing terrorism and insurgency, custodial death, rape and torture, reform of the police, prisons, and other institutions such as juvenile homes, mental hospitals and shelters for women have been given special attention. The Commission has urged the provision of primary health facilities to ensure maternal and child welfare essential to a life with dignity, basic needs such as potable drinking water, food and nutrition, and highlighted fundamental questions of equity and justice to the less privileged, namely the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the prevention of atrocities perpetrated against them. Rights of the disabled, access to public services, displacement of populations and especially of tribals by mega projects, food scarcity and allegation of death by starvation, rights of the child, rights of women subjected to violence, sexual harassment and discrimination, and rights of minorities, have been the focus of the Commission's action on numerous occasions. The Commission has taken up the issue harassment meted out for filing application under the RTI Act.

 

What are its major initiatives?

What is the composition of the Commission?

Where is the Commission located and what are its contact numbers?

 

Bihar Human Rights Commission

9, Bailey Road,

Patna, Bihar - 800 015.

Fax: (0612)-2232280. Phone: (0612)-2232291. E-Mail: sec-bhrc@nic.in. Web-Site: http://bhrc.bih.nic.in 

 


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