NHRC: BJP vice-president to be on NHRC panel

"Some other names were also discussed, but his (Khanna's) name was cleared. There was no dissent," source said.

Amid raging political controversies, the latest one stirring up the political battle is decision of NDA government to appoint BJP leader and vice-president Avinash Rai Khanna as a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

In a report, The Indian Express said that this is the first time a politician is being appointed to this post, and it has remained vacant for two years now.

It is to be noted that the members of the NHRC are selected after careful consideration by a high-level committee which is headed by the Prime Minister, and also has the Lok Sabha Speaker, the Union Home Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

The Indian Express sources state that the panel met in October to discuss possible candidates for the vacant post and after discussion of some names, cleared Khanna’s name without any dissent. “Some other names were also discussed, but his (Khanna’s) name was cleared. There was no dissent,” source said.

Reportedly, the rules clearly state in Section 3 in The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993  that the Commission shall consist of: a Chairperson who has been a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; one Member who is, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court; one Member who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of a High Court; and two Members to be appointed from amongst persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights.

It is to be emphasized here that in 2013, UPA-led government appointed retired Supreme Court judge Cyriac Joseph, where the BJP, led at that time by Arun Jaitley, had opposed to the appointment alleging that Joseph had “political links.” The UPA government had selected Joseph to occupy the post in NHRC. The Opposition had raised an objection and had written a letter to the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh voicing their dissent. However, Singh rejected the objections.

Khanna has been a Rajya Sabha MP till April 2016, when his tenure ended. Earlier, he contested Lok Sabha elections from Hoshiarpur constituency in Punjab.He is currently the in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir BJP.

Following the announcement, Twitter has flooded with disagreements from various politicians and eminent personalities. Former Swaraj Abhiyan leader Prashant Bhushan tweeted, “Modi government’s alarming decimation of all Accountability Institutions continues with appointment of BJP’s JK VP as member NHRC.”