The Protection of Human Rights Act 1993, an Act of the Parliament, provides for establishment of the National Human Rights Commission at the national level and State Human Rights Commissions at the state level.
In the State of Bihar, the State Human Rights Commission was established on 3rd-Jan-2000 vide Notification No. 207. However, the Commission was formally constituted vide notification no. 6896 on 25.6.2008 when Shri Justice S.N. Jha, a former Chief Justice of the Jammu & Kashmir and Rajasthan High Courts was appointed as Chairperson and Shri Justice Rajendra Prasad, a former Judge of the Patna High Court and Shri R.R. Prasad, a former Director General of Police, Bihar were appointed as members. After the sudden demise of Shri R. R. Prasad, Shri Neelmani, former Director General of Police, Bihar was appointed as member, BHRC on 1st December, 2011. Hon’ble Justice Rajendra Prasad completed his tenure on 26th June, 2013 and Hon’ble Chairperson Justice S. N. Jha completed his tenure on 3rd November, 2013.
The Human Rights Commission is an autonomous high power human rights watch body which derives its authority from the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. Its autonomy lies, among other things, in the method of appointment of its Chairperson and Members, their fixed tenure and the statutory guarantee provided in section 23 of the Act, and the financial autonomy referred to in section 33 of the Act. The high status of the Commission is found in the status of the Chairperson, Members and its functionaries. Unlike other Commissions, only a former Chief Justice of a High Court can be appointed as Chairperson and, likewise, the Secretary to the Commission is an officer not below the rank of Secretary to the State Government. The Commission has an investigating agency of its own headed by a police officer not below the rank of Inspector General.
The Commission may:
|(a)||Enquire on its own initiative or on a petition presented to it by a victim or any other person on his/her behalf into complaint of|
|(b)||Intervene in any proceeding involving any allegation or violation of human right pending before a court to the approval of that court;|
|(c)||Visit 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, for the study of living conditions of the inmates;|
|(d)||Review the safeguards provided by or under the constitution or any other law for the time being in force for the protection of human rights;|
|(e)||Review the factors that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights;|
|(f)||Undertake and promote research in the field of human rights;|
|(g)||Spread human right literacy and promote awareness of the safeguards available for protection of these rights through publications, medical seminars and other available means;|
|(h)||Encourage the efforts of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and extension work in the field of human rights; and|
|(i)||Perform such other functions as it may consider necessary for the promotion of human rights.|
It is clarified that though ordinarily the Commission has the power to make enquiry when there is violation of human rights (or abetment thereof) by a public servant; where the human rights are violated by a private citizen, the Commission can intervene if there is failure or negligence on the part of a public servant to prevent such violation.
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