Chief Justice of India T S Thakur Thursday asked the Centre to consider providing more teeth to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and state rights bodies to make certain recommendations by them “binding” on the executive.
“It is time at least to revisit whether the entire things (recommendations) have to be recommendatory. The power vested in the NHRC has to be revisited whether it is only a recommendatory body. We must ask the Centre that there is a need to revisit the Act,” said CJI Thakur. “Maybe we could follow a graduated or staggered approach where some part is recommendatory.”
Speaking on the occasion of Human Rights Day, the CJI also agreed with the grievance of NHRC acting chairperson Justice Cyriac Joseph that over 600 recommendations made by the rights watchdog have not been acted upon by the Centre and state governments and critics often term it as a “toothless” body.
“When recommendation for paying of compensation is made by a body like NHRC, which comprises respected retired judges and officials, the least the government can do is pass a reasoned order as to why it finds its recommendation unreasonable. More than 600 recommendations have been turned down — this is a very large number,” CJI Thakur said.
MoS for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said it was unfair to call NHRC toothless.
“We know that NHRC is performing its role, but there are certain constraints. We need to look into all these issues. Nobody should be able to make a comment like NHRC is a toothless body. It is distressing to see such an important functionary feel that adequate support is not being provided. We are duty bound to visit areas where concerns are being raised,” Rijiju said.
The CJI appreciated the minister for his “frank” remarks and hoped that the government would revisit the issues raised.