Human Rights Commissions Can Only Recommend And Not Direct Payment of Compensation: Chhattisgarh High Court

Shrutika Pandey

2 Aug 2021 6:58 AM GMT

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  • Human Rights Commissions Can Only Recommend And Not Direct Payment of Compensation: Chhattisgarh High Court

    The Chhattisgarh High Court last week held that the Human Rights Commissions are a recommendatory body and has no jurisdiction to pass an order directing payment of compensation. Justice Sanjay K. Agarwal held that Section 18 of the Protection of Human Rights Act of 1993 only empowers the Commission to recommend and not adjudicate. "It has no adjudicatory jurisdiction, and the...

    The Chhattisgarh High Court last week held that the Human Rights Commissions are a recommendatory body and has no jurisdiction to pass an order directing payment of compensation.

    Justice Sanjay K. Agarwal held that Section 18 of the Protection of Human Rights Act of 1993 only empowers the Commission to recommend and not adjudicate. 

    "It has no adjudicatory jurisdiction, and the Government/its authority has an obligation to consider the recommendation of the Commission in accordance with the law." the Court added.

    Section 3 and Section 21 of The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 respectively provides for the constitution of the National Human Rights Commission [NHRC] and State Human Rights Commissions [SHRCs]. Section 18(a)(i) gives the power to the Commissions to make recommendations to the authority or Government for payment of compensation/damages to the complainant/victim/members of his family as considered necessary.

    The Court was hearing a petition challenging an order of the Chhattisgarh State Human Rights Commissions whereby it directed the petitioner to pay a sum of Rs. 10,000/- as compensation on account of alleged professional negligence. It was argued that the said order is illegal and invalid. 

    Relying on Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board, Raipur v. Chhattisgarh Human Rights Commission and Ors (2018), Advocate J.A.Lohani, appearing for the petitioner, argued that the order directing payment of compensation is unsustainable and bad in law as the Human Rights Commission can only make a recommendation to the competent authority.

    The High Court relied on the Supreme Court judgement in N.C. Dhoundial v. Union of India and Others (2004) where it was held as follows,

    "The Commission which is a "unique expert body", is, no doubt, entrusted with a very important function of protecting human rights, but it is needless to point out that the Commission has no unlimited jurisdiction nor does it exercise plenary powers in derogation of the statutory limitations."

    Enquiring into the scope of recommendation vis-a-vis direction/mandate, the Court relied on Manohar s/o Manikrao Anchule v. the State of Maharashtra and Another (2012) where it was held that,

    "The power to recommend disciplinary action is a power exercise of which may impose penal consequences. When such a recommendation is received, the disciplinary authority would conduct the disciplinary proceedings in accordance with law and subject to satisfaction of the requirements of law. It is a "recommendation" and not a "mandate" to conduct an enquiry. "Recommendation" must be seen in contradistinction to "direction" or "mandate"."

    The Court also relied on Rajesh Das, I.P.S., v. Tamil Nadu State Human Rights Commission (2010), where the Madras High Court considered the power and jurisdiction of the State Human Rights Commission and held that under Section 18 of the 1993 Act, the order by SHRC is only a recommendation; neither an order nor an adjudication. Therefore, such recommendations will not be binding on parties. However, the Government is obligated to consider the Commission's recommendation and act upon the same to take forward the objects of the Human Rights Act, the International Covenants and Conventions in the backdrop of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Indian Constitution within a reasonable time, the Court noted. It further held that,

    "(vii) On the recommendation of the Human Rights Commission, if the Government decides to pay compensation to the victims of human rights violation, the Government may do so. But, if the Government proposes to recover the said amount from the public servant concerned, it can do so only by initiating appropriate disciplinary proceeding against him under the relevant service rules, if it so empowers the Government."

    Therefore, placing reliance on several judicial precedents, the High Court in the instant matter held that the Chhattisgarh SHRC does not have the jurisdiction to pass an order directing payment of compensation. Setting aside the order to the extent of payment of compensation noted that the order would be only treated as a recommendation of the Chhattisgarh Human Rights Commission.

    Title: Dr. Girdhari Lal Chandrakar v. State of Chhattisgarh

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