The Leader of Opposition’s letter came on the day Justice Arun Mishra, known for his controversial tenure in the Supreme Court, took over as the NHRC Chairperson.

Mallikarjun KhargeFILE PHOTO
news Controversy Wednesday, June 02, 2021 - 12:44

Shortly after former Supreme Court judge Justice Arun Mishra took over the post of the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Mallikarjun Kharge, the Leader of Opposition in the  Rajya Sabha, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Modi, raising concerns regarding the manner in which the NHRC appointments have been made. Taking to Twitter, Kharge questioned why the BJP-led Union government has not considered anyone from the SC, ST, OBC or minorities for the appointments.

Kharge, who is a part of the Appointments Committee, for the appointment to the post of chairperson, and members of the National Human Rights Commission, had placed on record his views on the committee's decision to recommend a panel of names for the selection to the post of chairperson and members of the NHRC. Kharge had asked for at least one person belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities to be recommended for appointments either to the post of Chairperson or a member to the National Human Rights Commission from amongst the existing list of candidates.

The Congress leader said he had also proposed that if this is not feasible, the meeting may be postponed for a week and reconvened bringing before the Selection Committee the names of some candidates from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities so that one of these could be recommended for the appointment either for the post of chairperson or member of the NHRC.

In his letter to the Prime Minister,  Kharge said that he had raised in the meeting the issue of increased attacks on people from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities and suggested that at least one person belonging to these communities be recommended for the appointment of the Chairperson. Kharge said in the letter, “I also pointed out that appointment of the Chairperson or a member to the NHRC cannot simply be ignored on the pretext that there is no specific provision to this effect in the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 and amendments made thereto Obviously, there cannot be any bar to appoint either Chairperson or member to the NHRC on this ground.”

He also expressed his disagreement with the recommendations made by the Committee. “Since the Committee did not accept any of my proposals, I express my disagreement with the recommendations made by the Committee in regard to appointments to the posts of Chairperson and Members of NHRC,” the letter read.

The NHRC had been without a chairperson since its former head ex-Chief Justice of India Justice HL Dattu retired in December 2020. Justice Prafulla Chandra Pant, a former judge of the Supreme Court of India, served as the acting chairperson till Justice Arun Mishra took over on Wednesday.

Justice Mishra was elevated to the Supreme Court in June 2014 and heard many politically sensitive and high-profile cases in the five years before his retirement. Though he pronounced many verdicts and orders on issues ranging from the environment to the interests of hassled home buyers, as well as issues related to the telecom sector, his tenure was also remembered for its controversies, like the judgment in the Prashant Bhushan contempt case and the land acquisition case.

Justice Mishra praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the inaugural function of the International Judicial Conference 2020 had also been criticised, as he was a sitting judge praising a member of the Executive. During his address, on ‘Judiciary and the Changing World’ at the Supreme Court, Justice Mishra had termed Modi as an “internationally acclaimed visionary” and a “versatile genius, who thinks globally and acts locally.”

Also read: SC Justice Arun Mishra: A look at seven controversies during his tenure

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