Lok Sabha passes Protection of Human Rights Bill

July 19 (IANS A Bill to protect the rights of “right people”, including vulnerable, farmers and financially backward persons, was on Friday passed in the Lok Sabha with voice vote.

The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019 provides amendment to the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 so that “terrorists” and “rapists” could not be protected.

Moving the Bill in the Lok Sabha for passage, Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai said the Bill amends the Human Rights Act that provides for a National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), State Human Rights Commissions (SHRC), as well as Human Rights Courts.

The Bill amends the Act to provide that a person who has been Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or a Judge of the Supreme Court will be the chairperson of the NHRC, Rai said.

“The Act provides for two persons having knowledge of human rights to be appointed as members of the NHRC. The Bill amends this to allow three members to be appointed, of which at least one will be a woman. 

“The Bill provides for including the chairpersons of the National Commission for Backward Classes, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities as members of the NHRC,” he said.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on July 8 had introduced the Bill.

Participating in debate over the Bill, BJP MP Satya Pal Singh said that the government is committed to protecting the human rights and that the Narendra Modi government has been honest and willing to work towards protecting the rights of the vulnerable.

“Various schemes introduced for the interest of farmers and financially backward persons. Human rights of the ‘right people’ should be protected – not the ‘terrorists’ and ‘rapists’,” he said.

DMK MP Kanimozhi said that the Bill does not fulfill the criteria of the Paris principles and questioned the decision of appointing of chairpersons from the various ministries.

She said that the NGOs and social activists who have protected the rights of women, children, dalit and other minority communities must be made a part of the NHRC. “The re-eligibility will dilute the autonomy of the committee,” she added.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor opened with the United Nations sub committee’s discontentment towards the Indian NHRC’s attempts and stated that the commission is not “fully compliant” with the Paris principles and even if the Bill is supposed to amend that, it fails to do so.

He categorically states six reasons why the Bill fails.

Stating “lack of autonomy” as the first problem, Tharoor claimed that “no independence or autonomy is given to the NHRC”.

“The government ignores it. It is a ‘toothless tiger’. The authorities do not submit reports to the committee and the government has ignored NHRC’s plea to give them power to penalise contempt,” he added. 

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