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SC moved against governor Sathasivam’s appointment as NHRC head

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SC moved against governor Sathasivam’s appointment as NHRC head
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court is likely to hear on Monday a plea by All India Bar Association (AIBA), seeking to restrain the central government from the purported move to appoint Kerala Governor Justice (retd) P. Sathasivam as the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission.

The apex court bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice Arun Mishra said they would look into the papers before deciding on the hearing of the matter as senior counsel B.B. Singh appearing for AIBA urged the court to hear the matter on Monday, saying that senior consul Ram Jethmalani would appear.

The incumbent head of the NHRC, Justice (retd) K.G. Balakrishnan, is demitting office next month.

The AIBA has sought direction to the central government "not to illegally and arbitrarily consider the sole candidature of Justice Sathasivam for the post of chairman, NHRC, without following the proper procedure" as the "integrity of the esteemed institution will be at stake if the said appointment is given effect to".

Referring to newspaper reports, the AIBA in its petition has said the central government has already obtained the consent of Kerala Governor Justice Sathasivam to be the head of the national human rights body without considering other eligible former chief justices of India, including Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice S.H. Kapadia.

Failure to obtain the consent of Justice Lodha, Justice Kabir and Justice Kapadia and obtaining the consent of Justice Sathasivam only would render the "selection process faulty and amenable to challenge".

The proper procedure as laid down in the law for the appointment of the chairperson of the NHRC was not being followed and the undue preference was being given to Justice Sathasivam, the AIBA said in its petition.

The petitioner association has contended that the appointment of Justice Sathasivam as the NHRC head would bring conflict of interest as he being the governor was a part of the executive arm and was no longer eligible to be appointed chairperson of National Human Rights Commission.

"One cannot associate with politics/politicians and still possess the purity of a judge," the AIBA said in its petition.

The AIBA has sought direction to the Centre to frame a transparent selection procedure based on definite criteria, by setting up a search committee which would invite nominations, including the option of taking consent from all available former chief justices of India, before a recommendation is made to the president to appoint the NHRC chairman.

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