Sushma, Jaitley oppose PM in NHRC appointment

| | New Delhi

The Government’s proposal to accommodate a retired Supreme Court judge in the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has triggered yet another political row. At the meeting of the Selection Committee headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on Thursday, Leaders of Opposition Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley objected to former Supreme Court judge Justice Cyriac Joseph being appointed a member of the rights panel.

The two BJP leaders have also given in writing their dissent to the panel, which also includes Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha PJ Kurien.

Sources claimed that the two BJP leaders, Swaraj and Jaitley, have questioned Justice Joseph’s track record as a Supreme Court judge and cited an adverse intelligence input to object to his appointment. 

Justice Joseph was also in the eye of a storm for not delivering judgement in a case related to Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. A reconstituted bench pronounced the order only after Justice Joseph retired. The name of Justice Joseph was also doing the rounds as chairman of the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (APSAT). 

The two BJP leaders even pointed out that retired police officials and civil servants should not be appointed as NHRC members as most cases of human rights violations are against officials from this fraternity. They suggested that social workers, lawyers, journalists and others involved in human rights activities should be chosen instead.

“Our party has always held that people having a clean track record and free from political biases should be appointed in such bodies. There should be no compromise on it,” BJP spokesman Syed Shahnawaz Hussain said.

The party had in March this year objected to Government’s proposal to make National Investigation Agency (NIA) chief SC Sinha a member of the NHRC on grounds that heads of investigating agencies should not get post-retirement appointments. But Sinha was accommodated in the panel despite BJP’s reservation.

Former CBI chief AP Singh was also tipped to become a member of the NHRC after his retirement, but following the BJP’s objection he was later accommodated as member of the Union Public Service Commission.

Sources claimed that just in the case of Sinha it was most likely that the Government will also overrule the dissent of the Leaders of Opposition of both the houses of Parliament to bring in Justice Joseph as member of the panel. 



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