The State Human Rights Commission is an expression of Tamil Nadu's concern for the protection and promotion of human rights. It came into being in April 1997.

  • What functions have been assigned to the Commission under the act?

  • What powers have been vested with the Commission relating to inquires?

  • Does the Commission have its own investigation team?

  • Is the Commission autonomous?

  • How does the Commission inquire into complaints?

  • What steps are open to the Commission after inquiry?

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

  • Can the complaint be in any language?

  • What kind of complaints are not entertained by the Commission?

  • What is the responsibility of the authority/State/Central Governments to     which report/recommendations have been sent by the Commission?

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


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

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

    a) inquire, on its own initiative or on a petition presented to it by a victim or any person on his behalf, into complaint of-
    i violation of human rights or abetment thereof  (or)
    ii negligence in the prevention of such violation by, a public servant ;

    b) intervene in any proceeding involving any allegation of violation of human rights pending before a court with the approval of such court;

    c) 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 conditions of the inmates and make recommendations thereon;

    d) review the safeguards provided 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;

    e) review the factors, including acts of terrorism that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend appropriate remedial measures;

    f) study treaties and other international instruments on human rights and make recommendations for their effective implementation;

    g) undertake and promote research in the field of human rights;

    h) 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;

    i) encourage the efforts of non-governmental organisations and institutions working in the field of human rights;

    j) such other functions as it may consider necessary for the promotion of human rights.

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

    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-

    a) summoning and enforcing the attendance of witnesses and examining them on oath;
    b) discovery and production of any document;
    c) receiving evidence on affidavits;
    d) requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office;
    e) issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses or documents;
    f) any other matter which may be prescribed.

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    Does the Commission have its own investigation team?

    Yes. The Commission has its own investigating staff for investigation into complaints of human rights violations. Under the Act, it is open to the Commission to utilise the services of any officer or investigation agency of the Central Government or any State Government. The Commission has associated, in a number of cases, non-governmental organisations in investigation work.

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    Is the Commission autonomous?

    Yes. The autonomy of the Commission derives, inter-alia, from the method of appointing its 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 - will be appointed and conduct themselves. The financial economy of the Commission is spelt out in Section 32 of the Act.

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    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 organisation 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.

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    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 rights or negligence in the prevention of violation of human rights by a public servant, it may recommend to the concerned Government 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.

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

    The Commission may on its own motion or on the basis of petitions made to it on allegations of human rights violations by armed forces, seek a report from the Central Government. On receipt of the report, it may either not proceed with the complaint or, as the case may be, make its recommendations to the Government. According to the Act, the Central Government shall inform the Commission of the action taken on the recommendations within three months or such further time as the Commission may allow. It is further stipulated that the Commission shall publish its report together with its recommendations made to the Central Government and the action taken by that Government on such recommendations. A copy of the report so published will also be given to the petitioner.

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    Can the complaint be in any language?

    They may be in Hindi, English or in any language included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. 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, in its discretion, accept telegraphic complaints and complaints conveyed through FAX.

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    What kind of complaints are not entertained by the Commission?

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

    a) in regard to events which happened more than one year before the making of the complaints;
    b) with regard to matters which are sub-judice;
    c) which are vague, anonymous or pseudonymous;
    d) which are of frivolous nature;
    e) which pertain to service matters

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    What is the responsibility of the authority/State/Central Governments to which report/recommendations have been sent 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.

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

    The State Human Rights Commission,
    Thiruvarangam,
    143, P.S. Kumarasamy Raja Salai
    (Greenways Road) Chennai 600 028, Tamilnadu.
    Phone : 91-44-2495 1484
    Fax : 91-44-2495 1484

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