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HindustanTimes Tue,21 Oct 2014

Ignoring BJP, Centre puts SC Sinha in NHRC

Prasad Nichenametla, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 05, 2013
First Published: 20:21 IST(5/4/2013) | Last Updated: 01:10 IST(6/4/2013)

Heading for a confrontation with the BJP, the Centre on Friday appointed the National Investigation Agency chief SC Sinha as National Human Rights Commission member.

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Leader of opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley respectively had asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not to appoint Sinha or any other police officer to the post.

BJP leaders believe the government was anxious to appoint Sinha to reward the NIA chief for investigations by the agency that linked right-wing extremist elements to several terror cases.

The government had last year proposed former CBI director AP Singh's name for the human rights watchdog but the two BJP leaders - who are members of the selection committee headed by the Prime Minister - had opposed AP Singh's name too.

Singh was subsequently accommodated as a Union Public Service Commission member where the government has a free hand.

"It was felt that letting the BJP have its way with Sinha's appointment too would give the BJP the power to veto all such appointments," a government source told HT.

The selection committee had, by majority, recommended Sinha's name, he said, confirming that formal orders for Sinha had been issued.

Swaraj had earlier said the government had given the selection panel four names for consideration on paper but insisted on Sinha's name.

Sinha - an IPS officer of the Haryana cadre - was due to retire in October later this year.

Incidentally, the NIA chief was in the running for the CBI director's post but lost the race to his senior, Ranjit Sinha. He will now get a five year term at NHRC.

In their separate dissent notes, Jaitley had spoken out against enticing senior police officers with post-retirement sops while Swaraj had demanded   the government look beyond police officers.

It could be a woman, someone from the northeast, media or human rights organisation, she suggested in her dissent note.

But Sinha isn't the first police officer to be appointed to the NHRC.

The BJP-led NDA coalition had appointed former CBI director PC Sharma to the same post in 2004, then seen as a reward for the CBI watering down the Babri demolition case against BJP leaders. The Congress had then called the appointment "regrettable".

Human rights activists had also moved the Supreme Court against Sharma's appointment but could not persuade the court to quash his appointment.

The court pointed that it could not go by reported perceptions about Sharma.


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