Archive for December 2008

Human Rights

The Protection of Human Rights Act 1993 was amended in the year 2006 with an objective for better protection of human rights and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Human rights are rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by Courts in India. These are more basic than the fundamental rights and are available even to foreigners in India.
The Act provides for the constitution of a National Human Rights Commission at the centre. The National Commission shall consist of a chairperson and 4 members. A secretary general will act as the CEO of the National Commission. The head quarter of the National Commission is at Delhi.
At the state level, the act also provides for the constitution of a State Human Rights Commission. The same consists of a
chairperson and 2 members. A secretary shall act as the CEO of state commission. In Karnataka the state commission is at Bangalore.
The act also provides for the setting up of human rights courts by the state governments for providing speedy trial of offences relating to violation of human rights. These human rights courts are provided with special public prosecutors for the purpose of conducting cases in the human rights matters.

The functions of the Human Rights Commission are as follows:
a. Inquire, suo motu or on a petition presented to it by a victim or any person on his behalf ( or on a direction or order  of any Court) into complaint of
i. Violation of human rights or abetment thereof; or
ii. Negligence in the prevention of such violation by  a public  servant;
b.Intervene in any proceedings involving any allegations of violation of human rights pending before a court with the approval of  such court.
c.Visit, notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, any jail or other institution,  under the control of the state Government, where persons are detained or lodged for purposes of treatments, reformation or protection,  or the study of the living conditions of the inmates thereof and make recommendations thereon to the government.
d. Review the safeguards provided by or under the constitution or any law for the time being in force for the protection of human rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation.
e. Review the factors, including acts of terrorism, that inhibit the enjoyment of human right and recommend appropriate remedial  measures;
f.  Study treaties and other international instruments on human rights and make recommendation for their effective   implementations;
g. Undertake and promote research in the field of human rights.
h. Spread human rights literacy among various sections of society and promote awareness of the safeguard available for the  protection of these rights through publications, the media, seminars and other available means.
i.  Encourage the efforts of non-governmental  organizations and institutions working in the field of human rights;
j. Such other functions as it may consider necessary for the promotion human rights.
The Commission shall, while inquiring into a complaint, have all the powers of a civil court trying a suit under the Code of civil  procedure, 1908
The Commission may, for the purpose of conducting any investigation pertaining to the inquiry, utilize the services of any officer or investigation agency of the Central Government or any State Government with the concurrence of the Central Government or the State Government as the case may be.

If at any stage of the inquiry, the Commission-
a)  consider it necessary to inquire, into the conduct of any person or,
b)  is of the opinion that reputation of any person is likely to be prejudicially affected by the inquiry, It shall give to that person a reasonable opportunity of being heard in the inquiry and to produce evidence in his defense.

Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007

The above Act was enacted by the Indian Parliament with an intention to provide effective provisions for the maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens. According to this Act, senior citizens who are unable to maintain themselves can make an application against their children for maintenance. If a senior citizen is a childless person, he can file an application against his relatives for maintenance.

The obligation of the children or the relatives to maintain a senior citizen extends to the needs of such senior citizens, so that such parents may lead a normal life.

If a person being relative of a senior citizen and is having sufficient means and is in possession of property of the senior citizen or if he would inherit the property of such senior citizens, then he is liable to maintain such senior citizens.

A senior citizen can file an application for maintenance to the maintenance tribunal. If he is incapable of making the application himself, he can authorize any organization or person to do the needful.

The tribunal is empowered to grant interim maintenance to senior citizens, during the pendency of proceedings before it. An application for maintenance shall be disposed off, in the normal course within 90 days from the date of service of notice and in exceptional cases, the tribunal may extend the said period, once for a maximum period of 30 days.

An application for the maintenance may be filed against one or more persons. The allowance for maintenance and for expenses for the proceedings may be passed from the date of the order or even from the date of filing the application. If the children or relative fails to pay maintenance to a senior citizen, then the tribunal can issue a warrant against them and send them for imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month or until payment, if sooner made which ever is earlier. The proceedings against the children and a relative shall be taken before the tribunal in a district where they resides or resided last.

The Act also provides for a conciliation officer who can try for a negotiated settlement between the parties. Normally the order for maintenance is made on a monthly basis. The maximum monthly maintenance is Rs.10,000/- per month. The tribunal has the power to make alteration in the allowances if there is a change in the circumstances or for other reasons like misrepresentation or mistake of fact done by the applicant before it.

Foreign Contributions

The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 1976 regulates the acceptance and utilization of foreign contributions or foreign hospitality by people and associations in India. The act prohibits acceptance of foreign contribution by any:
a.Candidate for election
b.Correspondent, columnist, cartoonist, editor, owner, printer or publisher of a registered news paper.
c.Judge, Government servant or employee of any corporation
d.Member of any legislature
e.Political party or office-bearer thereof.

Organizations which are not a political party, but which have a political nature can accept foreign contribution only with prior permission of Central Government.
Associations like trust, society, companies etc with a definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social program can accept foreign contribution, only if they register with Central Government. Further such associations are permitted to receive foreign contribution only through a particular branch of a bank of their choice. Such an association shall give intimation to the Central Government regarding the amount of each foreign contribution received by it, the source and manner of receipt, purpose and manner for which such foreign contribution was utilized.
Every citizen of India who receives any scholarship or stipend from any foreign source shall give intimation to the Central Government regarding the amount, source and purpose of the said scholarship or stipend. If the amount of such scholarship or stipend does not exceed Rs 36,000/- per annum, the recipient is not bound to give intimation to the central government. No member of a legislature, office bearer of a political party, judge, government servant or employee of any corporation shall, while visiting any country outside India, accept any foreign hospitality except with the prior permission of the Central government. This restriction is not applicable for receipt of emergent medical aid during such visits. Further, a member of an Indian delegation is permitted to accept a gift from a foreign source, during a foreign trip, subject to the regulations made by the Central government in this regard.
A foreign hospitality shall mean any offer made by a foreign source, for providing a person with the costs of travel to any foreign country or with free board, lodging, transport or medical treatment. A foreign source does not include NRIs but the same shall include PIOs.
Associations, organizations, trusts, societies etc. receiving foreign contribution shall maintain proper accounts in that regard.
Acceptance of salary, wages or other remuneration by a person, from any foreign source by way of payment in the ordinary course of business transacted in India is not prohibited by the Act.