PUCL Bulletin, December 2001

Appointments to Bihar State Human Rights Commission are politically motivated

It has been learnt from reports appearing in the media that the State government is insisting on the appointment of Mr. U.P. Sinha, retired Chief Justice as the Chairperson of the Commission in spite of the objection of the leader of the Opposition and your returning the recommendation for reconsideration.

Without casting any aspersion on the integrity of Mr. U.P. Singh, we are firmly of the opinion that a chief justice who joined the RJD and fought election on its ticket for Lok Sabha is not fit to hold the office of the Chairperson of the State Human Rights Commission because he would not enjoy anybody's confidence. The people are bound to feel that a Chief Justice so impatient to seek office as not to hesitate in joining a political party soon after retirement is least likely to stand up to the government of the party, he is so beholden. A Chief Justice who joins a political party immediately after retirement to seek election and failing to get elected seeks another office with the support of the ruling party does not inspire any confidence, which must be a prerequisite for holding the office he is so desperately seeking. Any man of honour and integrity would have withdrawn his name following the objection of the leader of Opposition and your refusal to appoint him.

Two members are to be appointed from amongst persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in matters relating to human rights. It is reported that some police officers have been recommended for appointment under this category. As an exception some sensitive police officers may qualify to be appointed, but as a rule they do not unless having knowledge of and experience in matters relating to human rights also includes knowledge and experience of their violation.

We would also like to contest the position of the Government that the recommendation of the Committee is binding because it is the view of the majority. Under section 22(1) of the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993, the Governor does not have power to appoint the Chairperson and members of the Commission without obtaining the recommendation of the Committee as mentioned under the same section, but at the same time he is not bound to accept the recommendation of the committee. Has it been the intention of Parliament to have a Commission of the choice of the Government it would have empowered the Council of Ministers to make the recommendation instead of providing for a separate committee with Leaders of Opposition in it.

We urge you to ensure that the hapless state is not saddled with a Human Rights Commission, which protects rather than punish the violators of human rights.

-- PRABHAKAR SINHA -- National Vice President; RAMCHANDRA LAL DAS - President, Bihar; KISHORI DAS - General Secretary; ASHUTOSH KUMAR - Secretary & Vice President elect; DAISY NARAIN - Secretary elect' SUDHA VERGESE -- Vice President.

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