INDIA: Irrelevance of National Human Rights Commission in the North East

The Government of India, when it set up the national and the state Human Rights Commissions (NHRC and SHRC) in 1993, the mandate of these commissions excluded atrocities committed by the army and the paramilitary forces.

When the Manipur State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) was being constituted, the Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) was also asked to send a representative to the Commission. The NPMHR after deliberation decided not to participate on the principle, that human rights issues in Northeast India mostly emanated from violations perpetrated by the army and paramilitary forces, and whose acts were shielded by the infamous Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA); an Act that directly contravenes and violates the right to life. To be a part of a commission that cannot deal with serious human rights issues was not only meaningless, but also painful.

We recall the 1997 ruling of NPMHR v. Union of India in which the NHRC was also a party, where the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the AFSPA. While the Court provided a list of Dos and Don’ts to check on the exercise of such power of impunity, these rules have been largely ignored. The NHRC has pleaded its helplessness under Section 19 of the Human Rights Act even in cases where the army and paramilitary has contravened it.

All these suggest that unless a radical change in the laws, particularly bringing the acts of the army and paramilitary within the scope of NHRC, and also to limit the impunity enjoyed under AFSPA is changed as has been recommended by various non-state and state agencies including the Jeevan Reddy Committee, the visit of the NHRC would remain a meaningless exercise for the people of Northeast India, including Manipur.

Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights 
Kohima, Nagaland

For further information please contact the secretariat of Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights, email-id:

Document Type : Forwarded Statement
Document ID : AHRC-FST-045-2013
Countries : India,
Issues : Judicial system, Military, Rule of law,