In a first, NHRC prepares for a political appointee

Sources in the NHRC said this is the first time an active politician is being appointed to the post, which has remained vacant for over two years now.

Written by Maneesh Chhibber , Manoj C G | New Delhi | Updated: November 6, 2016 5:04 am
National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, NHRC member, BJP vice-president, Avinash Rai Khanna, NHRC bjp member, bjp member, nhrc politician, BJP, NDA government, india news, indian express Avinash Rai Khanna

IN A move that could have far-reaching impact, the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre is in the final stages of appointing a politician from its own ranks as a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Sources in the NHRC said this is the first time an active politician is being appointed to the post, which has remained vacant for over two years now.

According to sources, BJP vice-president Avinash Rai Khanna is likely to be appointed as NHRC member in the next few days. Khanna, the party leader in charge of Jammu & Kashmir, was a member of the Rajya Sabha till April this year.

The chairperson and members of the NHRC are selected by a high-level committee headed by the Prime Minister, and comprising the Lok Sabha Speaker, Union Home Minister, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

Sources said the panel met last month to discuss names for the vacant post. “Some other names were also discussed, but his (Khanna’s) name was cleared. There was no dissent,” said a member of the panel. Section 3 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, which deals with the issue of “Constitution of a National Human Rights Commission”, says that only a former Chief Justice of India can be appointed NHRC chairperson.

The four full-time members, as per the Act, should include a former judge of the Supreme Court, a former chief justice of a high court and two others “from amongst persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights”.

“While there is no bar on a political person being appointed to this post, it is certainly highly questionable. This sends a wrong signal. Couldn’t the committee find somebody without political links,” said a former NHRC member who did not want to be named.

After his Lok Sabha constituency of Hoshiarpur became a reserved seat, Khanna did not contest the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. The Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP government in Punjab appointed him as a member of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission. However, Khanna quit that post after about 13 months, after he was elected to the Rajya Sabha.

When it was in the opposition, the BJP had stressed the need to appoint persons of impeccable credentials to such posts. In 2013, then Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley had opposed, in writing, the move to appoint former Supreme Court judge Cyriac Joseph as a member of the NHRC as Joseph was “perceived to be close to certain political and religious organisations”. However, most of the other members, including then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, rejected the objections and cleared the appointment.

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  1. S
    Sampat
    Nov 6, 2016 at 5:58 pm
    There is no leader of opposition in Lok Sabha. The panel headed by one who himself violated human rights, will surely make NHRC toothless.
    Reply
    1. H
      Himanshu
      Nov 6, 2016 at 10:37 am
      First UPSC [one of most important consutional body] was degraded by rewarding Bi for political reasons ,now an attempt to degrade NHRC[one of most important statutory body].Please dont bring the nation to peril by diminishing important pillars that ensure efficiency and accountability.This is not what we votef you for.
      Reply
      1. L
        lucy
        Nov 6, 2016 at 4:31 am
        All directing towards a impending holacaust, this time the Indian brahmins.
        Reply
        1. L
          lucy
          Nov 6, 2016 at 4:30 am
          No surprises. Whether it is the THIEF JUSTICE OF INDIA(Retd) OR A POLITICALY GOONED THUG AS CHIRMAN OF NHRC.....
          Reply
          1. I
            Indus
            Nov 6, 2016 at 10:00 am
            Do the Indian express lament if a leftist was appointed to the post! They would have extolled the virtues of the appointee. Are judges not partisan . The present CJI and many judges openly indulge in politics is well known fact.
            Reply
            1. I
              Indus
              Nov 6, 2016 at 10:03 am
              don't forget that many upper caste persons fought for dalit and minority
              Reply
              1. V
                VP Joshi
                Nov 6, 2016 at 3:30 am
                I'll be judge, I'll be jury, said cunning old Fury: I'll try the w cause, and condemn you to death. - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
                Reply
                1. S
                  Subbu.I
                  Nov 6, 2016 at 1:35 pm
                  WHEN A THIRD RATE TV ACTOR AND C GRADE FILM HERO CAN BE OPPOINTED AS FTII CHAIRMAN VOR A 12th DROP OUT AND TV SEREIL ACTRESS VERY ARROGANT AND IGNORANT WOMEN CAN BECOME HRD MINISTER. THIS APPOINTMENT IS NOT AT ALL SURPRISING AND MORE TO COME
                  Reply
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