The Lok Sabha on Friday passed a bill to expedite the process of appointment of chairperson and members of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) after the government assured steps were being taken “round-the-clock” to protect human rights.
Piloting the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019 Minister of State (Home Affairs) Nityanand Rai, said changes in the legislation will help in protecting human rights effectively.
Addressing concerns raised by members on the amendment Bill, the minister said the government has made humanity “raj dharma”, adding, during the era of Prime Minister Narendra Modi the women were coming forward and shouldering greater responsibilities.
The amendment provides for a reduction in the tenure of chairpersons of national and state human rights bodies to three years from the current five years.
It also stipulates that besides a former chief justice of India, as is the current requirement, a former Supreme Court judge can also become the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairperson.
Similarly, a former high court judge can also become a state human rights commission chairperson besides a high court chief, according to the bill.
Nityanand Rai said the bill also gives more administrative and financial powers to these bodies.
Under the existing Act, chairpersons of commissions such as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes and National Commission for Women are members of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
The new bill provides for including the chairpersons of the National Commission for Backward Classes, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities as members of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
The participation of civil society representatives will provide more strength to protect human rights, the minister said.
On the demand of Asaduddin Owaisi All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) that the chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) should be from the national commission for minorities, the minister said there is a provision for OBC which will also include minorities.
Asaduddin Owaisi further said till date National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)has been bestowed with A rating and in the “coming days also the A rating would be maintained.”
Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) had earlier accorded A rating to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
Participating in the discussion, Pinaki Misra Biju Janata Dal (BJD) said what differentiates India from China, Pakistan and others is that “our National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)” is more constitutionally valid.
Supriya Sule Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) was of the view that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)and science were getting challenged and “what Vikas were we talking about?”
“We are talking of peace and then we are challenging NHRC,” Supriya Sule said adding that the bill should be brought again and there should be a detailed discussion on it.
Sushil Kumar Singh Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) was of the view that there was a need to give more teeth and power to the commission.
“Strenthen this Commission further,” Sushil Kumar said. Asaduddin Owaisi asked the government “Why do you want to put the MPs of the ruling party in National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)” and also asked the Centre to frame a legislation to prevent mob lynching.
Opposing the bill, N K Premchandran Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) urged the government to come up with a comprehensive bill.