Functioning without a chairperson for the past six years, the Odisha Human Rights Commission is now without a single active member after its acting chairperson and lone member Justice B K Mishra retired on Thursday.
Justice Mishra has been serving as the only member of the commission since 2015 and as acting chairperson for two years.
The commission’s last chairperson, Justice R K Patra, completed his tenure in 2012. As per the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, the state commission must consist of a chairperson, who has been a chief justice of a high court; one member who is or has been a judge of a high court or district judge in the state, with a minimum of seven years experience as district judge; and another member is to be appointed from among persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights.
The Act specifies that the chairperson and members shall be appointed by the Governor, provided every appointment is made after obtaining the recommendation of a committee comprising the chief minister, Speaker and Leader of the Opposition of the legislative Assembly, and minister in-charge of the state’s Home Department.
Leader of Opposition and Congress leader Narasingha Mishra said he had written to the CM several times on the issue, but not received any acknowledgment. “I also raised the matter in the Assembly, but not received a reply.” BJP’s state spokesperson Pitambar Acharya also accused the BJD government of having “no respect for human rights”. The government said it will address the issue soon.
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