Lok Sabha passes Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019


New Delhi: A view of the Lok Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament (PTI photo)

New Delhi: A view of the Lok Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament (PTI photo)

The Lok Sabha on Friday passed a bill to expedite the process of appointment of chairperson and members of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) after the government assured steps were being taken “round-the-clock” to protect human rights.

Piloting the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019 Minister of State (Home Affairs) Nityanand Rai, said changes in the legislation will help in protecting human rights effectively.

Addressing concerns raised by members on the amendment Bill, the minister said the government has made humanity “rajdharam”, adding, during the era of Prime Minister Narendra Modi the women were coming forward and shouldering greater responsibilities.

The amendment provides for a reduction in the tenure of chairpersons of national and state human rights bodies to three years from the current five years.

It also stipulates that besides a former chief justice of India, as is the current requirement, a former Supreme Court judge can also become NHRC chairperson.

Similarly, a former high court judge can also become a state human rights commission chairperson besides a high court chief, according to the bill.

Rai said the bill also gives more administrative and financial powers to these bodies.

Under the existing Act, chairpersons of commissions such as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes and National Commission for Women are members of the NHRC.

The new bill provides for including the chairpersons of the National Commission for Backward Classes, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities as members of the NHRC.

The participation of civil society representatives will provide more strength to protect human rights, the minister said.

On the demand of Asaduddin Owaisi ((AIMIM) that the chairperson of the NHRC should be from the national commission for minorities, the minister said there is a provision for OBC which will also include minorities.

He further said till date NHRC has been bestowed with A rating and in the “coming days also the A rating would be maintained.”

Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) had earlier accorded A rating to NHRC.

Participating in the discussion, Pinaki Misra (BJD) said what differentiates India from China, Pakistan and others is that “our NHRC” is more constitutionally valid.

Sushil Kumar Singh (BJP) was of the view that there was a need to give more teeth and power to the commission. “Strengthen this Commission further,” he said.