NHRC mulling amendments to Human Rights Act

NEW DELHI, Apr 26: Dearth of retired High Court Chief Justices has prompted the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to think about relaxing norms for appointment of chairpersons in its state bodies by amending the existing Act.
The NHRC is also mulling the possibility of having a single human rights body for the north-eastern states where the problem of getting a retired High Court Chief Justice is more.
NHRC Chairperson Justice K G Balakrishnan said some of the smaller states like in the north-east have a problem with regard to appointing Chairpersons as there are no available retired Chief Justices.
“For these seven north-east states, there is only one High Court. So there are no enough retired Chief Justices. So there should be some relaxation and the Act could be suitably amended.
“Overall, in north-eastern states, there may be one SHRC to cater to all these seven states. Some such amendments could be made,” Balakrishnan told PTI in an interview.
The Commission has already called for suggestion from the existing SHRCs regarding the amendment of ‘The Protection of Human Rights Act’ of 1993.
“We have got a proposal to amend the Act. Proposal is pending consideration. We are collecting details from SHRCs on what amendments could be carried out. After codifying it, we will send it to Home Ministry,” he said.
The proposal for amendments in the Act came as NHRC noticed that the SHRCs in some states were not active with 15 states and union territories still not having human rights bodies.
In north-east,except for Assam and Manipur, the other five states have not constituted SHRCs. In Manipur the post of Chairperson is vacant.
“Recently, I have written to the Chief Ministers asking them to constitute the SHRCs. In some of the states, there are no chairpersons like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh. Commission is not very active there. I wrote a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister last asking him to appoint a chairperson,” he said.
He said some complaints should be and could be resolved at the state level. “It is difficult for us to monitor the activities and also results.
“States can effectively deal with the problems more effectively than us. They know the ground reality, what remedy is to be suggested, SHRCs will be in a better position to deal with those problems,” he said.
The Commission, he said, is now planning to have a sitting in Chhattisgarh. “We had planned to go there earlier but was postponed due to local body elections. Now there are new problems. Once it is over, we will go there,” he said.
The NHRC will go to Gujarat on May 14 and later to West Bengal. In North East, the Commission will have sittings in Guwahati and Shillong in May last or June first week.
According to a senior NHRC official, seven states which have constituted SHRCs have not appointed chairpersons while one has an acting chairperson. (PTI)