Putting an end to the controversy over his selection as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), former Rajya Sabha member Avinash Rai Khanna has re-joined the BJP and taken over as its national vice-president, the post he had surrendered in the first week of November.
He had resigned from the party to qualify for the rights panel membership but appointment of a political person to the post had evoked criticism from various quarters.
A petition was also filed in the Supreme Court to challenge his appointment under Section 24 (3) of the Protection of Human Rights Act and Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution as he had been a member of Punjab Human Rights Commission.
As per law, the NHRC has a former chief justice of Supreme Court as its chairperson, a former chief justice of a high court and two others “from among persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights”.
A high-level committee headed by the Prime Minister and including Lok Sabha speaker, Union home minister, leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha selects the members.
Sources said the entire controversy embarrassed the government and also disheartened Khanna that it was decided that he returned to active politics instead of taking up the new assignment. Sources said Khanna is likely to be considered as a candidate from any of the seat the BJP contests in Hoshiarpur district.
For last few days, Khanna has become again active in the functions of the party in the region and a local press release issued by the Hoshiarpur BJP on Friday also mentioned Khanna as the senior vice-president of the party. “Khanna has re-joined the party and the active politics,” said one of his key aides.
Khanna did not respond to repeated calls made by this correspondent. State BJP chief Vijay Sampla, when contacted, admitted that Khanna was actively attending the BJP meets. “However, question of his re-joining does not arise as Khanna ji has never quit the BJP. He was already the vice-president of the party,” said Sampla.