Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan is likely to take over as the new Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), after his retirement on May 12.
The post of NHRC chairperson has been vacant since June 1, 2009 after former Chief Justice of India S Rajendra Babu retired from the post on May 31.
Though two other former Chief Justices of India - R C Lahoti and Y K Sabharwal are eligible for the post, they could not be appointed due to different reasons.
As per the provisions of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, only a retired CJI below the age of 70 years is eligible for the post, which makes only Justices Lahoti and Sabharwal eligible for the important assignment.
In response to a Right to Information (RTI) query, the Union Home Ministry had stated that because of "adverse media and other reports" with regard to Justice Sabharwal, it was felt that the highly sensitive post may not be offered to him.
Justice Lahoti declined the offer citing other engagements.
The government has authorised Justice G P Mathur, a retired Supreme Court judge and a member of the commission, to act as its chairperson until a new appointment is made.
The apex court had earlier expressed annoyance with the Centre's submission that retired chief justices were not available for appointment as NHRC chairperson.
A bench headed by Justice S H Kapadia had on April 20 asked the Attorney General G E Vahanvati appearing for the Home Ministry to commence the process of appointing a Chairperson within four weeks.
The government had in a brief affidavit earlier submitted that required incumbents "were not available" to take the post and the government was taking necessary steps to do that.
Once appointed Justice Balakrishnan would hold the post for five years.