The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) might have an active politician as a member in the next few days, the Indian Express reported. In an unprecedented move, Avinash Rai Khanna, vice-president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, is the likely candidate to fill a post that has remained vacant for the last two years.
Though the appointment of an active politician is not prohibited, Khanna’ appointment will, very likely, cause a political ripple given that the ruling party is appointing someone from its own ranks.
A high-level committee headed by the prime minister decides the appointment of members and the chairperson for NHRC. The decision to appoint Khanna – who was a member of Rajya Sabha till April this year and also leads the BJP in Jammu and Kashmir – was apparently made “without dissent”.
A former NHRC member told the Indian Express, “While there is no bar on a political person being appointed to this post, it is certainly highly questionable. This sends a wrong signal. Couldn’t the committee find somebody without political links.”
According to India Today, opposition to the appointment is already being expressed on social media, with concerns over how independent the organisation can remain with such an appointment.
The BJP is also being criticised as in 2013, finance minister Arun Jaitley had opposed the appointment of former Supreme Court judge Cyriac Joseph on the grounds that he had political links.