This article is written by – Abhishree Paradkar, Symbiosis Law School, Pune
On Monday, the Apex Court adjourned a plea that sought the court’s intervention to ensure that the ApexHuman Rights Watchdog of India ran with its entire strength to 9th September 2021. This matter was brought before a division bench consisting of Justice L Nageshwara Rao and Justice Anuradha Bose.
Contentions in the Petition
It claimed that for the first time in National Human Rights Commission’s history ever since its inception, the NHRC had been running without its full strength. Furthermore, Supreme Court lawyer and human rights activist RadhakantaTripathy pointed out in his writ petition that the vacancies of two members and a Director General of Investigation of National Human Rights Commission, which is a requirement under the protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (which was amended in 2019) stayed vacant.
The petition also stated that the NHRC, in its opinion, has become handicapped due to this inaction by the government. The respondent’s negligence, inaction, and failure to fill up the vacancies of the NHRC violate Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.
The petitioner also stated that Section 3 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (which was amended in 2019) also prescribed that a Constitution of the National Human Rights Commission along with the Chairperson and five other members, should be formed and Section 11 of the said Act also prescribed that a Director-General of Investigation should be appointed. Section 7 prescribed that in the absence of said appointment, an acting chairperson should be appointed.
This new post for membership had been created by the amendment made to the protection of the Human Rights Act in 2019. From May 2020, the post of Director General of Investigation will remain vacant, after Prabhat Singh, IPS, the previous Director-General of Investigation, retired.
Tripathy also pointed out that the appointment of two members as well as the Director-General has made the NHRC handicap and dysfunctional in the eyes of the law.
He finally contended that this matter is directly connected with rule of law and the administration of justice. With increasing pendency of cases as well as investigation in serious cases, the negligence as well as the inaction of the government for not appointing the chairperson, Director General of Investigation, and members of the NHRC, the following inaction is extremely arbitrary unreasonable, and therefore, it also violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.
The matter is further set to be heard on 9th September 2021.
Kakkar, S. (2021, August 10). ‘NHRC Working Without Full Strength For First Time’: Plea In Supreme Court To Fill Up Vacancies.
Radhakanta Tripathy v. Union of India, 2021.