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National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and Idate Commission report

GS Paper 2

  Syllabus: Constitutional and Non-constitutional Bodies


Source: TH

 Context: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) emphasized the need to implement the Idate Commission report, which recommends establishing a permanent commission for Nomadic, Semi-Nomadic, and De-Notified Tribes (NTs, SNTs, and DNTs) in India.


The NHRC called for repealing the Habitual Offenders Act, 1952, and suggested appointing a representative of the De-notified Tribe community as per the Act’s stipulations. Additionally, it proposed the non-inclusion of DNTs/NTs/SNTs under SC/ST/OBC categories, formulation of specific policies for them, and addressing challenges in obtaining basic facilities and rights, especially for women and children among these communities. The discussion highlighted the importance of changing colonial mindsets and ensuring human rights for these tribes.


What are Nomadic Tribes (NTs), Semi-Nomadic Tribes (SNTs), and De-Notified Tribes (DNTs)?

  1. Nomadic Tribes (NTs): These are communities that migrate from one place to another in search of livelihood. They often do not have a permanent settlement. Examples include the Banjara tribe and the Gujjar tribe.
  2. Semi-Nomadic Tribes (SNTs): Similar to Nomadic Tribes, SNTs partially practice a nomadic lifestyle. They may have some settled areas but also engage in a nomadic way of life. The Van Gujjars in Northern India are an example.
  3. De-Notified Tribes (DNTs): These tribes were originally labelled as “criminal tribes” during the British colonial period under the Criminal Tribes Act, 1872. After independence, this label was officially removed, but the stigma persists. The term “De-Notified” refers to the removal of this classification. The Kanjar and Nat communities are examples of De-Notified Tribes.


About the Idate Commission (officially known as the National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic, and Semi-Nomadic Tribes):

It was formed in 2014 with Bhiku Ramji Idate as its head. Its primary objectives included creating a comprehensive state-wide catalogue of Denotified, Nomadic, and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (DNTs), identifying those not listed under SCs/STs or OBC categories, and proposing welfare measures for their benefit.


Major recommendations of the Idate Commission: 

  1. Establish a permanent commission for the DNTs, SNTs, and NTs with statutory status.
  2. Establish a separate department for their welfare in states with their sizable populations.
  3. Conduct a detailed survey of the families of DNTs to work out their estimated population and their concentration.
  4. Enable legal and constitutional protection by including a third schedule in the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989.
  5. DNTs not included in the SCs/STs/OBCs list should be listed as OBCs.


About the challenges faced by Denotified, Nomadic, and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (DNTs):

They encounter various challenges as they lack a centralized list and recognition as a distinct group under the Constitution, similar to Scheduled Castes (SC) or Scheduled Tribes (ST). These communities often fall outside the scope of government welfare initiatives, facing issues such as limited education and inadequate access to essential infrastructure like drinking water, shelter, and healthcare.


Steps taken by the government

  1. Development and Welfare Board for DNTs Established in 2019 (based on the recommendations of the Idate Commission) for a period of 3 years (extendable to 5 years)
  2. Scheme for Economic Empowerment of DNTs (SEED) for educational empowerment, health insurance, livelihoods and housing.
  3. A committee has also been set up by the NITI Aayog to complete the process of identification of the De-Notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities (DNCs)


About NHRC:

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is a statutory body established in India to safeguard and promote human rights in the country. It was established under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, with a mandate to address human rights violations, provide remedies to victims, and create awareness about human rights principles among the public.


The mandate of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC):

Mandate of NHRCDescription
Investigate Human Rights ViolationsThe NHRC is responsible for investigating and inquiring into complaints of human rights violations, covering civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights.
Recommend Remedial MeasuresAfter investigation, the NHRC has the authority to recommend remedial measures to the concerned authorities for the protection and promotion of human rights. This includes suggestions for compensation, rehabilitation, and legal action against the perpetrators.
Spread Awareness and EducationThe NHRC is tasked with spreading awareness about human rights, promoting human rights education, and conducting research on various issues related to human rights in India.
Monitor State and Central Government ActionsThe NHRC monitors the actions of both state and central government authorities to ensure compliance with human rights standards and principles.
Provide Assistance and AdviceThe NHRC provides assistance and advice to individuals, groups, and organizations on human rights issues, offering guidance and support in addressing violations or concerns.
Promote Human Rights CultureThe NHRC aims to promote a culture of human rights by organizing seminars, workshops, and campaigns on various human rights issues. It collaborates with civil society organizations, academia, and other stakeholders to create awareness and advocacy for human rights.
Cooperation with International BodiesThe NHRC collaborates with international organizations, including the United Nations and its agencies, to exchange information, expertise, and best practices in the field of human rights. This fosters cooperation on a global scale to address and advance human rights concerns.


Evaluation of its success in achieving its objectives:


  • Investigation of Human Rights Violations: The NHRC has been successful in investigating numerous cases of human rights violations in India.
    • As of September 2021, the NHRC had registered over 17,000 cases and completed inquiries in more than 13,000 cases.
  • Recommendations for Remedial Measures: The NHRC’s recommendations have led to positive changes and accountability in some cases.
    • One notable example is the NHRC’s intervention in the encounter killings in Manipur, where it recommended the registration of FIRs, compensation to the victims’ families, and disciplinary action against the involved security personnel. From 1993 to 2021, the NHRC awarded monetary relief amounting to over Rs. 200 crores in cases of custodial deaths.
  • Awareness and Education: The NHRC has played a crucial role in spreading awareness about human rights through its campaigns, workshops, and publications.
    • As of 2020, the NHRC had organized more than 5,000 human rights awareness programs across the country.
  • Monitoring of Prisons and Jails: The NHRC has the authority to visit and inspect prisons, jails, and detention centres to ensure the protection of the human rights of inmates.
    • It conducts regular inspections and takes appropriate actions to address issues such as overcrowding, torture, and other forms of ill-treatment.
  • International Engagement: The NHRC actively participates in international human rights forums and collaborates with international organizations. It engages in dialogue with various countries and shares best practices in the promotion and protection of human rights.



  • Implementation and Enforcement: Despite its recommendations, the implementation of NHRC’s directives by the concerned authorities has been a challenge. In some cases, the authorities have failed to take adequate action, leading to a lack of accountability and justice.
  • Limited Jurisdiction: It does not have jurisdiction over human rights violations by non-state actors, such as private companies. NHRC is also limited by temporal jurisdiction of cases violation limited to the past 1 year.
  • Delayed Justice: For instance, the NHRC’s recommendations in cases of extrajudicial killings and custodial deaths have not always led to prompt action and redress for the victims and their families.
  • Limited Resources and Staffing: The NHRC has often faced resource constraints, including limited budgetary allocations and understaffing. This hampers its ability to effectively handle a large number of complaints and conduct comprehensive investigations in a timely manner.



The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) plays a crucial role in promoting and protecting human rights in India. The Supreme Court has emphasized the need to provide the NHRC with greater autonomy, independence, and financial resources to enhance its effectiveness in addressing human rights issues.


Insta Links:


Prelims Links:

Other than the Fundamental Rights, which of the following parts of the Constitution of India reflect/reflects the principles and provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)? (UPSC 2020)


  1. Preamble
  2. Directive Principles of State Policy
  3. Fundamental Duties



Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3


Ans: D


Consider the following: (UPSC 2011)

  1. Right to education
  2. Right to equal access to public service
  3. Right to food.



Which of the above is/are Human Right/Human Rights under “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”?

(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 2 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3



Ans: D