Whether Recommendations of State Human Rights Commission are legally binding and enforceable on Authorities/ Government?

Madras High Court (Full Bench) has ruled that recommendation of State Human Rights Commission u/s 18 of Protection of Human Right Act is binding on Authority or Government.

The Bench also ruled that it is an adjudicatory order which is immediately and legally enforceable.

Questions before the Court and the Court’s Opinion

  1. The question before the Court was whether the decision made by the State Human Rights Commission u/s 18 of Protection of Human Rights Act was a recommendation or adjudicatory order capable of immediate enforcement?

Hon’ble Court opined that recommendation made by the Commission u/s 18 is binding on AuthorityAuthority or government. Government is legally obligated to forward comments on Report including the action taken or proposed to be taken to Commission as per Sub-clause e of Section 18

Therefore, the recommendation made by Commission u/s 18 was an adjudicatory order and is legally enforceable. Suppose the AuthorityAuthority or the government does not implement the order within the period mentioned in Section 18. In that case, the Commission can approach a Constitutional Court u/s 18(b) of the Act for its enforcement.

The Bench clarified that if the Commission is the petitioner before the Court u/s 18(b) of Act, then the concerned government cannot oppose such a petition unless a review is filed.

  • If the State has any discretion to avoid implementing the State Human Rights Commission’s decisions, if so, then under what circumstances?

According to the Bench, such recommendation is binding, and the State has no discretion to avoid the recommendations. In case the State is aggrieved, then the only legal remedy is to seek judicial review of the recommendation of the Commission.

  • Whether the State Human Rights Commission, while exercising its powers under sub-clause ii and iii of clause (a) of Section 18 of the Act can issue orders for recovery of compensation amount from the State to victims of human rights violation and from officers who are responsible for such a violation?

Hon’ble Court held that the Commission could order recovery of compensation from State and pay it to the victim and the State, in turn, can recover the money from officers who violated the Right. The Bench clarified that before recovering the money, the State has to issue a show-cause notice to the concerned officer(s).

  • Whether Officers of State who were found to be responsible by State Human Rights Commission for causing the violation of human rights u/s 18 of the Act are allowed to impeach such orders under Article 226 of the Constitution?

According to Bench Officers who are found to be responsible for the violation can challenge the Commission’s order by filing judicial review under the Constitution. They can also challenge the order before a competent court.

According to the Bench, since the HR commission’s recommendation is binding, the affected officer/employee can challenge the order at any stage but only on valid grounds.

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