The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment Bill) 2006 has been enacted since September 14 this year. The legislation was passed by Parliament in its last session and the President signed it on September 13, 2006. Subsequently, it was notified in the Gazette.
The Act makes a distinction between the chairpersons of the National Human Rights Commission and the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) from the members of the respective commission. It lays down that Judges of the Supreme Court with at least three years of service will be eligible for appointment as Chairperson of the NHRC.
In the case of SHRCs, High Court Judges with at least five years of service will be eligible for appointment as Chairperson. A district judge with not less than seven years’ experience in that capacity will be eligible for appointment as a member of SHRC. The Act empowers the NHRC to visit any jail or detention centre without prior intimation to the State Government. The Act enables the Chairperson and members of the NHRC to address their resignation in writing to the President and the Chairperson and Members of the SHRCs to the Governor of the State concerned. It empowers the NHRC and SHRCs to make interim recommendations during an inquiry. It also empowers the NHRC and its Chairperson to delegate certain powers and functions of the Commission to the Secretary-General of the NHRC. The Act provides that the Chairperson of the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes and the Chairperson of the National Commission for the Scheduled Tribes shall be deemed to be members of the NHRC. It enables the Central Government to notify future international covenants and conventions to which the Act would be applicable.