“The SCA has considered reports of serious human rights violations taking place in India including the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and third-party submissions in relation to restriction of civic space, reprisals against human rights defenders and journalists who are perceived as critics, hate speech, violence, and discrimination against minorities.

The SCA has also received third-party submissions raising concerns that the NHRC has not used its mandate to adequately address or speak out on pressing human rights violations.

The SCA acknowledges that the NHRC has provided information on how they have addressed human rights violations, as follows:

– Taking cognizance of cases of hate speech against political actors and ordering police investigations and action.

 – Investigated and recommended compensation for human rights violations arising out of police action and ethnic violence.

 – Registered and acted on 397 cases against ethnic, religious, and racial minorities. – Issued advisories regarding protection of children from online abuse.

– Established a 24-hour toll-free line where victims and human rights defenders can report human rights violations.

 However, the SCA notes that the information provided does not demonstrate adequate efforts to address human rights violations at a systemic level, nor has the institution spoken out in a manner that promotes and protects all human rights. The SCA notes observations of UN Special Procedures and the third-party submission on serious human rights violations against ethnic and religious minorities including hate speech, violence, and discrimination. In its responses both in writing and in the interview, the NHRC reports that it has taken cognizance of cases regarding violence, discrimination and hate speech against minorities including recommending compensation.

The SCA is, however, concerned that the NHRC has not provided adequate information on how it is addressing the systemic nature of these violations. While the NHRC has reported that it has taken cognizance of cases of human rights violations against human rights defenders and journalists and reconstituted its core working group on civil society, the SCA is concerned the NHRC has not provided adequate information about how they are addressing the shrinking civic space and increased instances of targeting human rights defenders, journalists, and perceived critics. The SCA is also concerned that the NHRC has not publicly communicated its positions on these issues in a way that promotes the credibility of the institution and addresses the systemic nature of these violations.

The SCA recommends that the NHRC addresses all violations of human rights and to ensure effective follow-up so that the State makes the necessary changes to ensure that human rights are clearly protected.

 The SCA further recommends that the NHRC ensures that its positions on these issues are made publicly available, as this will contribute to the strengthening of the credibility and accessibility of the institution for all people in India. An NHRI mandate should be interpreted in a broad and purposive manner to promote a progressive definition of human rights, which includes all rights set out in international, regional, and domestic instruments. NHRIs are expected to promote and ensure respect for all human rights, democratic principles, and the strengthening of the rule of law in all circumstances, and without exception. Where serious violations of human rights are imminent, NHRIs are expected to conduct themselves with vigilance and independence.

 The SCA refers to Paris Principles A.1, A.2, and A.3, and to its General Observation 1.2 ‘Human rights mandate’.”