The National Human Rights Commission currently holding a status of participant (A status) is likely to be downgraded to the position of an observer (B status) when its accreditation renewal comes up for consideration before the United Nations.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) currently holding a status of participant (A status) is likely to be downgraded to the position of an observer (B status) when its accreditation renewal comes up for consideration before the United Nations (UN).
There are various reasons for this, including the corruption charges raised against Chairman, K.G. Balakrishnan, former Chief Justice of India. Other reasons that are expected to go against the NHRC include lack of (a) diversity in its composition, (b) transparency in its appointment process and (c) autonomy in having its own staff for monitoring and investigating human rights cases.
The Asian NGOs Network on National Human Rights Institution (ANNI) in its report on the Performance and Establishment of National Human Rights Institutions in Asia suggests that “India desperately needs an effective, independent, victim-sensitive, transparent, and accountable national human rights institution (NHRI) capable of providing effective leadership to the other 158 statutory human rights institutions in the country”.
The appointment of K.G. Balakrishnan as the Chairman of NHRC was widely criticized. The criticism stemmed from the numerous controversies surrounding K.G. Balakrishnan including blocking the prosecution of former Justice Nirmal Yadav, attempting to exempt the office of the Chief Justice of India from the purview of the Right to Information Act and delaying action against Justice P.D. Dinakaran even after the Parliament had initiated an impeachment motion against him.
Another aspect that will go against the NHRC is the lack of diversity in its composition. Members to the NHRC are usually appointed from the judiciary and the bureaucracy. Arguably, the NHRC should provide due representation to women members, persons with disability and civil society representatives.
The NHRC also lacks the resources necessary to run an effective,powerful institution that can protect and promote the human rights ofover 1 billion people. The budget for 2010-2011 has been reduced.From Rs. 24.10 crore ($ 5.1 Million) to Rs. 18 crore ($3.8 Million). In other words, the Government of India has allocated a mere Rs. 0.158 ($ 0.003) per person per year, towards the protection and promotion of human rights.
“ANNI input is part of the material that will be considered by the accreditation panel for making its recommendation on NHRC's application. The other inputs that will be taken into account are NHRC's own compliance report as well as independent appraisals by the office of the UN human rights commissioner and the Asia Pacific forum of national human rights institutions”, reports TOI.
The ANNI report points out that approximately 450 million people in India live below the poverty line while 46 percent of children in India are still under-nourished, double that of Sub-Saharan Africa. The report concludes by saying that NHRC has failed desperately to take the lead in the national discourse of human rights.