Indian civil society wants an Independent upgraded NHRC


Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI) Report 2023 released a report after assessing the performance of NHRIs in addressing and mitigating challenges in 13 countries for the reporting period of 2022-23. The National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) performance is assessed through a thorough, factual and civil society assessment.

All Indian Network of Individuals and NGOs working with National and State Human Rights Institutions (AiNNI), a member of ANNI, has contributed to the report on the Indian NHRC and assessed the performance of the Indian NHRC after receiving inputs from individuals and civil society working with N/SHRIs.

At this juncture of the 30th Anniversary since the adoption of the Paris Principles and the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR), it is very critical to assess the performance, the strengths and weaknesses of the NHRI, the progress they made in the implementation of ‘Minimum standards’ under Paris principles and realization of rights declared under UDHR.

The comparative assessment of minimum standards based on Independence, mandate, pluralism, promotion and protection of the 13 NHRIs revealed that India, being the world’s largest democracy, scored the lowest rating (15.25) compared to its South Asian counterparts.

This explains the deferral of NHRC India in its accreditation process by the Subcommittee of Accreditation – GANHRI. Despite not adhering to the minimum standards, Indian NHRC recently hosted the 28th APF biannual conference on the 20th and 21st of September, 2023, which was boycotted by the Indian Civil Society for its Silence on Gross Human Rights Violations in the country.

India has a total of 170 National and State Human Rights Institutions; no other country in the world has such an enormous number of Institutions. The NHRC India, a model for other National and State Human Rights Institutions, scored the lowest in the Assessment of ANNI. One can imagine what the faith of the 170 such Institutions would be. This is the current status of NHRC, which is compromising the Access to Justice for 1/6th of the world’s Population.


India is witnessing the shrinking of civic space, with media, human rights defenders (HRDs), and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) being booked under stringent laws. The government is using such laws to silence the people’s movements, recently in Odisha, Rayagada, more than 100 Environmental Rights defenders (EHRDs) were booked under multiple cases, 25 of them were arrested in August, and there were in detention since then, their bail was rejected citing multiple cases. Against seven movement leaders, A separate case was registered under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.[1]

The Government using brutal force to suppress the people’s movements, in Surajgarh, Maharashtra, on October 20, 2023, A combined police force of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Central Reserved Police Force formed a special task force along with C-60 Commandos. They were deployed to detain 8 protest leaders of Damkondawhai Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, which is a group of protestors from 70 Adivasi villages who had been peacefully agitating against the six proposed iron-ore mines.[2]

Several Journalist have been targeted they are subjected to hacking using Pegasus spyware, recently on October 3, 2023, Delhi police and Enforcement Directorate conducted raids on the popular News Outlet “News Click”, in which several senior journalists were interrogated, and their mobile phones were seized.[3]

In all the cases mentioned above and in many more instances of Arrest, detention, attack on peaceful Assembly, restriction on Association, Criminalizing Expression, threats, and intimidation of Human Rights Defenders, Human Rights Defenders Alert[4] approached NHRC India requesting to investigate and intervene into the violations on Human Rights Defenders. The NHRC India registered the cases but never intervened or ordered an enquiry by its investigation team. The NHRC even failed to express solidarity with the Human Rights Defenders.

In the state of Manipur, the state-sponsored ethnic violence led to the death of more than 140 people and the displacement of 60,000 people.[5] Meitei groups initially perpetrated the majority of the violence against the Kuki villages and communities. As the clashes spread, villages were burned down, and more than 250 churches belonging to the Kuki community were destroyed.[6] Kuki Women began to be systematically targeted in the attacks, which included rape,[7] torture and assault, followed by beheadings in the majority of the cases.[8]

Even as the violence escalated, the response from the central BJP government was notably muted. The Meitei community dominates the state BJP government and is complicit in the violence against the Kuki minority by allowing Meitei militants to carry out violence with impunity. [9] A First Information Report (FIR) under UAPA was registered for Condemning the violence as “state-sponsored” against the three women human rights defenders (HRDs) who were members of the fact-finding committee. “.[10] The Imphal District court in Manipur issued a summons to an HRD, Professor Khan Khan Saung Hausing, for commenting on the ground realities in the state of Manipur based on a complaint by a member of the Meitei Tribes Union.[11] The NHRC failed to take cognizance, investigate and intervene in the Human rights violation[12] till the comments of the Prime Minister of India[13] and the Chief Justice of India.

The Indian NHRC has two members positions vacant, the current composition lacks pluralistic balance as suggested by GANHRI-SCA. The NHRC’s recent Annual reports are not published on the website. This resulted in deferral of NHRC’s Accreditation by GANHRI-SCA in March 2023.  Despite the deferral, NHRC hosted the 28th Biannual Conference of Asia Pacific on September 17th and 18th. The Indian Civil Society led by AiNNI boycotted the conference by raising concerns about NHRC’s Independence.[14]

Indian civil society wants an “Independent upgraded NHRC” – AiNNI Calls for support and strengthening the NHRCI by adherence to Paris Principles. The GANHRI-SCA recommended the same in its reports in 2011,2016,2017- 2023.

Ashish Reddy is an Advocate and legal researcher who is currently serving as a Regional Coordinator of Human Rights Defenders Alert (HRDA)for southern India. He is also a member of the All India Network of Individuals and NGOs working with State and National Human Rights Institutions (AiNNI).

[1] sabrang, “25 Persons Arrested in Southern Odisha in the Last Three Weeks through Police-Corporate Nexus,” SabrangIndia, August 30, 2023,

[2] “Gadchiroli: Police Arrest 21 After ‘Brutal Crackdown’ on 8-Month Adivasi Protest Against Mining,” The Wire, accessed November 24, 2023,

[3] “Delhi Police Raids Online News Portal’s Office, Journalists’ Residences,” OnManorama, accessed November 28, 2023,

[4] “HRDA,” accessed July 20, 2023,

[5] Available at Hannah Ellis-Petersen and Hannah Ellis-Petersen South Asia correspondent, “Manipur: Why Is There Conflict and How Is the Government Responding?,” The Guardian, July 21, 2023, sec. World news,

[6] Available at “Manipur | 253 Churches Burnt down during Continuing Unrest in Manipur: Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum – Telegraph India,” accessed July 29, 2023,

[7] Available at “Manipur: India Outrage after Women Paraded Naked in Violence-Hit State – BBC News,” accessed July 29, 2023,

[8] Available at “Manipur: More Horrific Cases Of Beheading And Assault Of Women Surface,”, July 22, 2023,

[9] Available at “Targeting of Kukis the Main Reason behind Manipur Violence,” June 27, 2023,

[10] Available at “For Calling Manipur Violence State-Sponsored, CPI’s Annie Raja, 2 Others Face FIR | India News – The Indian Express,” accessed July 29, 2023,

[11] “Manipur Row | Supreme Court to Hear Hyderabad Professor’s Plea on July 31 – The Hindu,” accessed July 29, 2023,

[12] Available at “NHRC Asks Manipur Government to Stop Violence and Human Rights Violations Inform on the Relief and Rehabilitation of the Victims of Violence Expedite ATRs Awaited in Specific Complaints | National Human Rights Commission India,” accessed July 29, 2023,

[13] Available at “Video of Manipur Alleged Rape Draws First Comments From Modi,” Bloomberg.Com, July 20, 2023,

[14] “Rights Orgs, Activists Condemn Permission to NHRC to Host Global Meet Despite Accreditation Deferment,” The Wire, accessed November 28, 2023,

Support Countercurrents

Countercurrents is answerable only to our readers. Support honest journalism because we have no PLANET B.
Become a Patron at Patreon

Join Our Newsletter


Join our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Get CounterCurrents updates on our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Related Posts

Join Our Newsletter

Annual Subscription

Join Countercurrents Annual Fund Raising Campaign and help us

Latest News