Steps taken to fill slots in NHRC wholly unsatisfactory: SC

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New Delhi, Dec 8 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Central government to fill the slot of the member, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and that of its Director General (Investigation) observing that the steps taken so far were “wholly unsatisfactory”.

Pulling up the government, a bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice L. Nageswara Rao asked why it has not yet taken any satisfactory step to fill up the slots lying vacant for a long time.

The court observation’s came as Additional Solicitor General Pinki Anand submitted the status report on the steps taken by the government on filling the vacancies.

The court was hearing a PIL by lawyer Radhakanta Tripathy seeking court’s intervention for filling vacancies in rights body which are vacant for a long time.

The petitioner has contended that the two vacancies have severely hampered the functioning of the human rights body as the single member bench was unable to shoulder the burden of immense volume of cases pending before it.

In the course of the hearing, the bench asked if these posts are advertised. On being answered in negative, the court asked why such position could not be kept in public domain.

Anand said that she would seek instructions from the government on this count.

Finding the bench unimpressed by the status report and the submissions advanced on behalf of the government, Anand handed over to the bench a file having file noting. After perusing it, the bench observed that the name of a politician has been finalised for the post of the member.

“Your mind is somewhere and heart is somewhere else,” said the bench.

In the last hearing of the matter on December 2 while describing the earlier status report as “wholly unsatisfactory to say the least”, the court had asked the Centre to furnish information as to “When was the reference to the Statutory Committee under the Act asking for filling up of the vacancies made and by whom.”

The court had further asked if the Committee had met for doing what was needed and, if so, the date on which such meetings were held and the result of the meetings be indicated.

On the appointment of the Director General (Investigations), the court had asked when was the recommendation for appointment of suitable officer made and by whom was it approved and also sought an explanation for the delay in making of the selection/recommendation.

The petitioner told the court on Thursday that the process being followed by the government was non-transparent and government was not adhering to the UN Guidelines for the Establishment of National Human Rights Institutions – also called UN Paris Principles.

The UN Paris Principles emphasises on the independence, diversity, impartiality, and fairness of the rights body.

The lawyer told the court that till date, not a single non-judicial member of the Commission was a woman. He said that Justice Fatima Beevi was from judicial background.

As bench was about to pass an order, Anand sought six weeks time for taking steps to fill the vacancies. Allowing her plea, the court directed the next hearing of the matter in last week of January 2017.

–IANS

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