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UN Commission downgrades our rights body's status

The National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) lost its 'A' status with United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) with its affiliate, the Global Alliance for National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) saying no to the re-accreditation of NHRC.

Besides India, seven other countries are also in the same queue. The GANHRI report cited reasons based on Principles Relating to Status of National Institutions.

According to the report, NHRC suffers from a structural-compositional issue. "Citing political appointments, police officers in its investigation unit and lack of pluralism in its staff, had led to the deferment," stated the report.

Brushing aside the blame, the NHRC has clarified that Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 was framed in a way where six eminent people — including Prime Minister, Speaker, Rajya Sabha deputy chairman, leaders of opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, and minister in-charge of human rights are part of the committee selecting chairperson and members of NHRC.

But, according to Section 3 (2) of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 the members of NHRC should be comprised of the following- a chairperson who has been CJI, a Supreme Court judge, chief justice of a high court and two people having knowledge or practical experience in matters related to human rights.

The report has also criticised the current selection process by terming it as "insufficient broad and transparent." Since 2004, no women have been a part of the NHRC body, stated the report.

In response to this, the chairperson Justice H L Dattu has called the process "routine" saying that, "the questions will soon be answered."
According to the legal experts, with growing awareness of human rights, NHRC's role is bound to grow.

This seems a wake-up call, where the commission should not only enhance the connection with its state wise stakeholders but also the clear link between structure and functioning.
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