Government’s move to appoint sitting Kerala Governor and former Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam to the post of NHRC chairman has been challenged in top court. All India Bar Association (AIBA), a lawyers body has filed a Public Interest Litigation seeking Supreme Court’s intervention in the matter.
The petition is also seeking direction to the Centre to frame a transparent selection procedure and take consent from other available former Chief Justices of India who are below the age of 70 years. The PIL was mentioned before the bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Arun Mishra. Though the bench declined to pass any immediate direction or interfering in the process, it posted the hearing for next week.
“Let me see the papers,” Chief Justice Dattu said after the petitioner’s advocate sought urgent hearing on the petition filed through AIBA’s chairman Adish C Aggarwala.
The petition cited media reports suggesting that Justice Sathasivam, who is now the Governor of Kerala is being solely considered to succeed former CJI K G Balakrishnan as the NHRC Chief.
The petitioners further argues that there are other former CJIs -Justice R M Lodha, Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice S H Kapadia–but the Centre has not only considered but has already obtained consent of Justice Sathasivam for his appointment as Chairperson of the NHRC.
It contended that the proper procedure as laid down under the Protection of Human Rights Act for appointment of the Chairperson was not being followed and undue preference was being given to one candidate.
Justice Sathasivam took over as Governor of Kerala on September 5, 2014.