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BJP opposes NIA chief`s appointment as NHRC member

BJP has reservations against giving NHRC posts to retired bureaucrats and police personnel.

New Delhi: BJP has objected to government`s suggestion of appointing NIA Chief SC Sinha as a member of the NHRC on the grounds that "pliant" bureaucrats should not be given such post-retirement jobs and insisted that those from the marginalised sections and civil society be chosen.

Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley gave separate dissent notes to the Prime Minister-led selection panel that met yesterday to decide on a new appointment to the National Human Rights Commission(NHRC).

Sources said government had proposed Sinha`s name but this was objected to by Swaraj and Jaitley. Sinha is due to retire on October 31 this year.

Jaitley reportedly pointed out during the meeting that since the UPA has come to power it has been giving post-retirement employment to heads of investigating agencies, including the CBI.

Former CBI chief Vijay Shankar Tiwari was appointed to a committee headed by Justice (retd) Punchhi Commission while another ex-CBI boss Ashwini Kumar was recently made Nagaland governor. A P Singh, also a former CBI chief, was recently appointed a member of the Union Public Services Commission (UPSC).

Swaraj and Jaitley said now an attempt is being made to appoint the NIA chief as NHRC member. Such a practice is hampering the functioning of chiefs of investigating agencies who should work without fear or favour. Instead they become pliable in greed of a post-retirement job, the BJP leaders said.

Swaraj suggested in her dissent note that instead of IAS and IPS officers, who are the ones mostly facing charges of violating human rights, members of civil society and the marginalised and weaker sections be chosen for such jobs.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Deputy Chairperson of Rajya Sabha PJ Kurien, who are part of the selection panel, were present at the meeting held yesterday.

Sources said despite the opposition`s reservations on the issue, the government is keen on going ahead with Sinha`s appointment.

Both the BJP leaders suggested that members from the media, dalits, tribals and others representing civil society and weaker sections be appointed to NHRC.

The main opposition party has been opposing appointment of retired bureaucrats and senior officials to such bodies.

While BJP maintains that government wants to appoint to these key posts those bureaucrats and senior police officials who were close to the administration, sources said the party`s reservations about Sinha are due to the fact that he had allegedly held RSS responsible for "Hindu terror".

BJP had earlier opposed retired CBI chief A P Singh`s appointment to NHRC despite several requests and informal meetings of UPA ministers with Swaraj and Jaitley. The government then apparently decided to appoint Singh as a member of the UPSC.

The party has reportedly conveyed to the government that IAS and IPS officers are often violators of human rights and should not be made NHRC members.