The definition of Human Rights as engrafted in the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (herein after “the Act”) is very vast. It says, “Human Rights” means the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International covenants and enforceable by courts in India. According to this definition, every constitutional or statutory right comes within the purview of Human Rights.
In every case of violation of Human Rights, the general supposition is to move the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) or State Human Rights Commissions for appropriate remedies. Owing to this, the number of cases that are pending before the Human Rights Commissions is very high. According to the official website (nhrc.nic.in) of National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi, the total number of pending cases was 29759 in November 2013. In the State of Karnataka, approximately 28000 cases were pending for disposal before the State Human Right Commission at the end of 2013.
It is pertinent to mention that in the Act, an effective and alternative remedy is available for investigation and trial of offences relating to the Human Rights. Section 30 of the Act provides for the constitution of the Human Right Courts. Most of the states have issued notifications in this regard and constituted and notified for the each district a court of session to be a Human Rights Court. In Madhya Pradesh too, there is a very old notification in this regard.
An application under section 30 of the Act could be filed before a Human Right Court on the basis of any of the following reasons:
1) At present, the complaints are being dealt by the Human Rights Commissions, which are overburdened and take long time in disposing cases pending before them. In the larger public interest, by applying the doctrine of “speedy trial”, all cases pertaining to violation of Human Rights must be decided without any unnecessary delay. The Human Right Courts are the better instrumentalities to achieve this motive.
2) It is far better to make joint efforts to deal with the problems relating to violation of Human Rights.
3) Section 36 of the Act prescribes that the Commission shall not inquire into any matter after expiry of one year from the date of incident. This limitation is applicable only for proceedings before Commissions and not for Human Right Courts.
4) No statutory remedy is provided against the direction, order or report issued by Human Rights Commissions, but the order passed by the Human Right Court can be challenged under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
5) Under Section 31 of the Act, it is mandatory that in Human Rights Courts, the applicants shall have the assistance of Special Public Prosecutor appointed by the State Governments.