Former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Rajinder Sachar passed away on Friday. He was 94. Sachar was a prominent activist for human rights and had formulated the report on the social, economic and educational condition of Muslims in India, widely known as the Sachar Committee report.
The report highlighted a range of disabilities faced by the Muslim community in India and made a slew of recommendations to address the situation. It placed Indian Muslims below Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in backwardness.
Sachar began his legal career as an advocate at Shimla in early 1950, and then moved to the Supreme Court of India and practised civil, criminal and revenue cases. Sachar was appointed as the Additional Judge of the Delhi High Court for a period of two years in 1972. In his career, Sachar served as the acting Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court, and Judge of the Rajasthan High Court.
Before heading the Sachar Committee, the former chief justice had been avidly vocal about the civil liberties and was one of the authors of “Report on Kashmir situation” in 1990, when the militancy was at its peak in the state. He was appointed to an advisory committee chaired by Chief Justice Aziz Mushabber Ahmadi to review the Protection of Human Rights Act and determine whether rapid changes and amendments were needed. The committee which submitted its report in 2000 recommended changes to the membership of the National Human Rights Commission, changes to procedures to reduce delays in following up recommendations and a broadening of the commission’s scope.
Sachar was one of the prominent supporters of the demand for reservation to women in parliament. He had stated on several occasions that reservations for women in parliament could help eliminate gender bias in legal cases. In 2003, Sachar along with Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan condemned the US invasion of Iraq calling it “unprovoked, unjustified and violative of international law and the United Nations Charter.”
While his works in the field of Human rights is extremely notable, he will be widely remembered for the 403-page report on the condition of Muslims in the country. The report was commissioned by the the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government in 2005 and was tabled in Parliament the following year. The seven-member committee gave recommendations on how to remove obstacles obstructing people from the minority community to participate in the economic, social and political development.