Unfilled vacancies in NHRC, SHRCs matter of concern: Justice Pant

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New Delhi, Mar 19 (PTI) National Human Rights Commission Member justice (retd) P C Pant on Friday said it was a 'matter of concern' that there are unfilled vacancies in the NHRC and the SHRCs.

He said this during an online event in which other senior officials of the rights panel and members of the state-level commissions were also present.

The posts of NHRC chairperson, two panel members, DG(Investigation) and a few others are presently vacant, a senior official said.

Former Chief Justice of India and ex-chairperson of NHRC, justice H L Dattu early December 2020 had completed his tenure during which the apex body disposed of over 4.2 lakh cases, officials had said.

He had joined the NHRC on February 29, 2016, after retiring as the CJI on December 2, 2015. Pant during his deliberations said, 'It is a matter of concern that there are unfilled vacancies in the NHRC and the SHRCs.' Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram states are yet to establish state human rights commission, the NHRC said in a statement.

The event was the annual meeting of officials of the NHRC with those of the SHRCs. NHRC Member Jyotika Kalra, Secretary General Bimbadhar Pradhan, chairpersons and members of SHRCs and senior officers were also present, it said.

Justice Pant also said that the definition and punishment for offence of violation of human rights needs to be incorporated in the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA) and the procedure of trial of such offence is also to be clarified.

This has created problems for human rights courts, established in various states under the Act. He said that he had raised this issue last year also, but, unfortunately, the PHR Act still remains un amended till date on this aspect.

Several important suggestions emerged in the meeting, which was divided into three thematic sessions focusing on COVID-19 management and related activities by the NHRC and SHRCs, best practices, disaster management -- climate change and future strategies.

Some of the important suggestions emerged during the open discussions, were that every SHRC should have at least one woman member; and making the contact details of officials of the SHRCs public, and available in each police station, it said. PTI KND KJ