As many as 71 individuals, including activists, members of human rights organisations, academics and researchers, signed a statement, condemning the Centre's decision to appoint former Supreme Court judge Arun Mishra as the chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Justice Mishra assumed office on Wednesday morning. The statement noted that the decision was not based on the previous track record of the individual, but on whether the person was 'indispensable to the government'. It also violated three principles of the Paris Principles that govern the recognition of the NHRC- independence, pluralism and accountability.
"This decision made by the Modi-led Government smacks of brazen arrogance and indifference to public opinion and once again highlights the cynical disdain of the government for democratic norms and constitutional proprieties," the statement noted, adding that Mishra's tenure at the Supreme Court was "very controversial", reported by Scroll. in.
The Congress leader, Mallikharjun Kharje, who is also the leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, urged the Prime Minister in a letter to include at least one person in the commission for the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and minority communities. The appointment also ignored the directive which requires the first preference for the post to go to a former Chief Justice of India.
The signatories included People's Union for Civil Liberties members Ravikiran Jain, V Suresh and Mihir Desai; academicians Nandini Sundar and Apoorvanand, human rights activists Aakaar Patel and Harsh Mander, among others.
In the statement, it said that the former Supreme Court judge had 'scant respect' in matters relating to the critical right to life and livelihood of millions of people of marginalized communities. In all politically sensitive cases, such as Loya Case, Sahara Birla Corruption Case, Sanjiv Bhat Case, Haren Pandya Case, he always sided with the Central government.
He was also criticized by the Supreme Court Bar Association for praising PM Narendra Modi at a judicial conference involving judges from 24 countries in January 2020 by calling him an "internationally acclaimed visionary" and a "versatile genius, who thinks globally and acts locally". The statement noted that the appointment might be his 'reward' for the comments.