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PIL on filling of NHRC vacancies, SC says plea infructuous now after appointment, but lauds effort of lawyer

ANI | Updated: Sep 09, 2021 15:58 IST

New Delhi [India], September 9 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Thursday said and noted that the PIL filed by top court lawyer and human rights activist, Radhakanta Tripathy, is now infructuous since the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairperson has already been appointed (Justice Arun Mishra).
A bench of the apex court, headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao, said, "The plea now is infructuous since the NHRC Chairperson has already been appointed."
Tripathy had filed the PIL before the apex court seeking its intervention to direct the authorities to ensure that the human rights watchdog of the country fills up the vacancies in the NHRC.
The PIL was filed on February 2 this year when the NHRC was functioning without a Chairperson and two other members.
There was no acting chairperson also.
Tripathy mentioned the matter for early hearing. The matter was first listed on April 19 when due to technical glitches it couldn't be heard.
Subsequently, Justice P C Pant (a retired judge of the Supreme Court) was appointed as Acting Chairperson for about a month. Then the Government appointed Justice Arun Kumar Misra as the Chairperson and Justice M M Mittal as a judicial member. Rajiv Jain is a non-judicial member.
It is pertinent to mention here that in 2017, Tripathy through his PIL ensured that the vacancies were filled up in the NHRC.
It was posted in his PIL, wherein the Paris principle was mentioned, one woman member with a non-judicial background was appointed in the NHRC.
For the first time in the history of NHRC's inception, the apex human rights watchdog of the country, during February 2021, was running without its full strength, as there was no Chairperson, Acting Chairperson, two members and the Director General (DG) of Investigation, Tripathy claimed in his PIL.
Tripathy filed the petition seeking the intervention to ensure the apex human rights watchdog functions with its full strength.

The petition filed by Tripathy, pointed out the vacancies of Chairperson, two members and the Director General (DG) of Investigation of National Human Rights Commission as required under Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 as amended in 2019.
"The Commission cannot function without its Chairperson, member and Director General of Investigation," the petition filed by Tripathy said.
"The NHRC has become handicapped due to the inaction of the government. The negligence, failure and inaction of the Respondents in filling up the vacancies in the NHRC violate Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India," Tripathy said in the petition.
The petition of Tripathy claimed that Section 3 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 as amended in 2019 prescribes the Constitution of a National Human Rights Commission with a Chairperson and five other members.
Similarly, Section 11 of the Act prescribes for the appointment of a Director-General of Investigation. Section 7 of the Act Prescribes of appointment of an Acting Chairperson in the absence of Chairperson, the petition stated.
The vacancies in the NHRC had been continuing as Justice H L Dattu retired on December 02, 2020, as the Chairperson of the NHRC and Justice D Murugesan retired from the Commission in September 2018, as a member.
A new post for membership has been created by the Amendment of the Protection of Human Rights Act in 2019. The post of Director General of Investigation has been lying vacant since May 2020, after the retirement of Prabhat Singh, IPS, who retired as Director General (Investigation) in the NHRC, the petition said.
Tripathy, in his plea, alleged that the non-appointment of Chairperson, two members and Director General of Investigation in the NHRC had made it handicapped and dysfunctional in the eyes of law.
It is therefore directly connected with the administration of justice and rule of law, increasing pendency of cases and investigation of serious cases, the petition said.
Negligence and inaction of the government in not appointing the Chairperson, members and Director General of Investigation of NHRC, in the circumstances is arbitrary, unreasonable and therefore violates Article 14 and 21 of the constitution of India, the petition filed by Tripathy said.
In earlier PIL for filling up the vacancies in the NHRC, the then CJI Tirath Singh Thakur, after verifying the file notings stated against the Centre " Your mind is somewhere and heart is somewhere else."
In a subsequent hearing, the then bench headed by CJI Jagdish Singh Kheher (Retired) remarked " Tripathy you helped everybody by filing the PIL. We are grateful to you". (ANI)