National Human Rights Commission, India

National Human Rights Institution


Accreditation status: A

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India was established by the Protection of Human Rights Act of 1993. One of its functions is to receive and handle complaints regarding compliance by the Indian Government and its agents with their human rights obligations under national and international law. It can also receive complaints against companies in limited circumstances, notably where those companies provide public service or in case of alleged exploitation of child workers by a private employer.

Who can access it? 

A victim or any person on his/her behalf.

How does it work?

A complaint can be filed online, by post, fax or by e-mail. The complainant must disclose: (i) a violation of human rights or abetment thereof by, or; (ii) negligence to prevent such a violation, by a public servant.  Complainants are encouraged to make us of the format provided by the NHRC.

The following complaints are not entertained by the NHRC:

  • In regard to events which happened more than one year before the complaint is made;
  • When a case is already being considered by a court or by a State Human Rights Commission;
  • When a complaint is vague, anonymous or pseudonymous, or when a complaint is frivolous of nature.

Once a case is established as admissible, the Commission will inquire into its substance. The Commission may request the Government or authorities of the region where the alleged violation took place to conduct an investigation and report to the Commission. On receipt of a report, the Commission may decide to launch its on, further investigation, under which process it has all the powers of a civil court. It can also call for information or a report from the Central Government or any State Government.

NHRC does not charge a fee. There is no assistance to complainants. Confidentiality can be provided in exceptional circumstances (e.g. for cases involving rape victims, victims of child sexual abuse and complainants affected by HIV/AIDS).


Possible outcomes include recommendations to the Government or authorities requesting for example, that it initiate prosecution, provide immediate interim relief to the victim, or provide or secure compensation and remediation for victims.

Decisions are not legally-binding and the Commission does not have the mandate to enforce their implementation. It can call for a compliance report from the authorities concerned and take follow up action with them.


Rees, Caroline and David Vermijs. 2008. “Mapping Grievance Mechanisms in the Business and Human Rights Arena.” Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative Report No. 28. Cambridge, MA: John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Last edited: 
July, 2013

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