NEW DELHI: Former Justice of Supreme Court Arun Mishra takes charge as Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday. He had retired from the apex in September last year.
The post was vacant for almost 6 months since former Chief Justice of India H L Dattu retired in December last year, the post of a member was also vacant. In a statement in March, former SC judge Prafulla Pant who has been an NHRC member raised the issue of vacant posts in the NHRC and State Commissions, terming it a “matter of concern”.
“Justice Mishra has been appointed on the recommendation of a high-powered committee embracing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Harivansh, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge”
Successively, Pant was appointed the acting chairperson. Several State Human Rights Commissions are under-staffed, and activists have moved high courts to fill out the vacancies. For example, Maharashtra, the state that saw an unprecedented migrant exodus last year during the nation-wide lockdown to contain COVID-19, has not had a full-time chairperson since 2018.
He was appointed as a Supreme Court judge in 2014, Justice Mishra had also been the Chief Justice of Rajasthan and Calcutta High Courts. As chairperson of NHRC, his tenure will be for five years or till he reaches the age of 70, whichever is earlier.
He, Kharge, however, has put his disagreement on record with the committee’s recommendation as he had requested appointing a person belonging to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe as NHRC Chairperson.