Skip to main content

Top UN body tells India: Stop political, government interference in National Human Rights Commission

Ex-chief justice, Supreme Court, current chairman
NHRC HL Dattu with Modi
By Our Representative
An authoritative report to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) by OHCHR’s affiliate, Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutes (GANHRI), has created flutter by recommending that accreditation to India’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) should be deferred till November 2017.
Prepared by GANHRI’s Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA), has particularly taken strong exception to politicians and government functionaries as NHRC members, even as referring to the fact that the Chairperson of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes is a Member of Parliament (MP), and “has voting rights in the full statutory commission.”
The reference here is to PL Punia, member of the Lok Sabha from 2009 to 2014 representing Barabanki Lok Sabha constituency. A Dalit leader of the Congress, as chairperson of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes he sits ex-officio on NHRC.
In November last year, a senior BJP leader, former Rajya Sabha member Avinash Rai Khanna, was selected to join as NHRC member. Following national furor over the move, Khanna re-joined BJP and took over as national vice-president, the post he had surrendered in the first week of November join NHRC.
Quoting UN documents, which require a national human rights institute to be “independent from government in its structure, composition, decision-making and method of operation”, the report notes, it must be constituted and empowered to consider and determine the strategic priorities and activities of NHRC “based solely on its determination of the human rights priorities in the country, free from political interference.”
“Government representatives and MPs should not be members of, nor participate in, the decision-making organs of an NHRI”, the report states, adding, their membership of, and participation in, the decision-making body of NHRC has “the potential to impact on the real and perceived independence”.
The report insists, NHRC’s legislation should clearly indicate that government functionaries and politicians “participate only in an advisory capacity”, adding, in order to further promote independence in decision-making, and avoid conflicts of interest, NHRC’s “rules of procedure should establish practices to ensure that such persons are unable to inappropriately influence decision-making.”
The report particularly takes exception to Section 11 of the NHRC Act, which requires that the Central Government to appoint a civil servant with the rank of secretary to take the role of Secretary General of NHRC, and a police officer of the rank of Director General of Police or above to take the post of Director (Investigations).
The report underlines, “The practice of having police officers and former police officers involved in the investigation of human rights violations, particularly in circumstances where the alleged perpetrators are the police. It noted that this practice has adverse implications for the actual and perceived independence of the NHRC.”
Insisting that there should be “broad consultation and/ or participation in the application, screening, selection and appointment process”, the report bemoans, for the last five years, the position of secretary-general of NHRC “has been held by a variety of people and has been vacant for a substantial period of time.”
"As concerns the Director General (Investigation) and the practice of using former police officers to investigate complaints”, the report says, adding, “For victims of abuses by police, there is a real or perceived conflict of interest, and this may impact the ability of such persons to access human rights justice.”
---
Download full report HERE

Comments

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Kerala governor turned History Congress into political arena, 'insulted' Prof Irfan Habib

Counterview Desk
In a signed statement, office bearers of the Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA), Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi (president), Prof Jabir Raza (vice-president), Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir (secretary) and Prof Farhat Hasan (joint secretary), have said that Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had sought to insult veteran historian Prof Irfan Habib, 88, at the 80th session of the Indian History Congress, even as turning it into his “political arena”.