The Protection of Human Rights Act of 1993 provides for the creation of not only National Human Rights Commission but also a State Human Rights Commission at the state level. A State Human Rights Commission can inquire into violation of human rights related to subjects covered under state list (List II) and concurrent list (List III) in the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
The State Government of Rajasthan issued a Notification on January 18, 1999 for the constitution of the State Commission in accordance with the provisions of The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. Commission became functional from 23 March 2000 with the appointment of Justice Kanta Kumari Bhatnagar, as the first Chairperson along with Shri R. K. Akodia, Shri B. L. Joshi and Prof. Alamshah Khan as the supporting members.
Composition of Rajasthan Human Rights Commission:
- The State Human Rights Commission is a multi-member body consisting of a chairperson and two members.
- The chairperson should be a retired Justice of a High Court.
- Other members should be:
- Serving or retired judge of a High Court or a District Judge in the state with a minimum of seven years of experience as District Judge
- A person of knowledge or practical experience with respect to human rights.
- The chairperson and members are appointed by the Governor on the recommendations of a committee consisting of:
- The chief minister as its head,
- The speaker of the Legislative Assembly,
- The state home minister and
- The leader of the opposition in the Legislative Assembly.
- In the case of a state having Legislative Council, the chairman of the Council and the leader of the opposition in the Council would also be the members of the committee.
- A sitting judge of a High Court or a sitting District Judge can be appointed only after consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court of the concerned state.
- The chairperson and members hold office for a term of 3 years or until they attain the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.
- After their tenure, the chairperson and members are not eligible for further employment under a state government or the Central government.
Appointment and Removal:
- Although the chairperson and members of a State Human Rights Commission are appointed by the governor, they can be removed only by the President (and not by the governor).
- The President can remove them on the same grounds and in the same manner as he can remove the chairperson or a member of the National Human Rights Commission.
Powers & Functions:
The main mandate of the State Commission is to function as a watch dog for human rights in the State.
- Inquire suo motu or on a petition presented to it, by a victim, or any person on his be into complaint of violation of human rights or negligence in the prevention of such violation by a public servant.
- Intervene in any proceeding involving any allegation of violation of human rights before a Court with the approval of such Court.
- Visit any jail or any other institution under the control of the State Government where persons are detained to study the living conditions of the inmates and make recommendations thereon.
- Review the factors, including acts of terrorism that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend appropriate remedial measures.
- Review the safeguards provided by or under the constitution of any law for the time being in force for the protection of human rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation.
- Spread human rights literacy among various sections of society and promote awareness of the safeguards available for the protection of these rights.
- Undertake and promote research in the field of human rights.
- Encourage the efforts of Non-Governmental organizations and institutions working in the field of human rights.
- Undertake such other functions as it may consider necessary for the promotion of human rights.
- The commission is vested with the power to regulate its own procedure.
- It has all the powers of a civil court and its proceedings have a judicial character.
- It may call for information or report from the state government or any other authority subordinate thereto.
- It has the power to require any person subject to any privilege which may be claimed under any law for the time being in force, to furnish information on points or matters useful for, or relevant to the subject matter of inquiry. The commission can look into a matter within one year of its occurrence.
- The Commission has an investigating agency of its own headed by a police officer not below the rank of Inspector General.
However, the Commission can only make recommendations, without the power to enforce decisions. The commission does not have power to punish the violators of human rights. It cannot even award any relief including monetary relief to the victim. The recommendations of State Human Rights Commission are not binding on the state government.
The Commission submits its annual reports to the state government. These reports are laid before the state legislature, along with details of action taken on recommendations of commission and reasons for non-acceptance of recommendations.
In January 2021, Former Rajasthan high court judge Justice Gopal Krishan Vyas has been appointed to the post of the chairman of the State Human Rights Commission.
Additonally, former IPS officer Mahesh Goyal has been appointed as the member of the commission. The post of chairperson of the commission fell vacant after Justice Prakash Tatia resigned from the post in November 2019. Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma, the only member of the commission, has been officiating as the acting chairman of the commission.