Apex court asks government why NHRC chief’s post vacant


New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday sought the union government’s explanation on why the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chief’s post has been lying vacant for the last six months.

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The issue has been raised in a public interest litigation (PIL) of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), which has contended that the NHRC is an important agency, established under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

The NHRC chairman’s position has been lying vacant since May 2009. The bench of Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justice Aftab Alam Monday issued a notice to the union government and sought its reply within a month.

PUCL chairman Pushkar Raj in his PIL pointed out that the human rights panel chief’s post has been vacant since former Chief Justice of India Rajendra Babu retired from the position in May 2009.

“The government’s failure in appointing the NHRC chairman is affecting the functioning of the commission, which has a direct bearing on the administration of justice and the rule of law,” Raj in his plea to the apex court said.

He termed as “arbitrary and unreasonable” the government failure to appoint the NHRC chief. The civil rights society, founded by the late Jaiprakash Narain.

According to the legislation, the post of the NHRC’s chairman can only be filled by a former chief justice of India, but since retirement of Rajendra Babu, various former CJIs, including former chief justice of India Y.K. Sabharwal, have refused the government’s offer for appointment as the rights panel chief.