The government and the BJP have once again clashed over appointments to the National Human Rights Commission or NHRC. At the centre of the confrontation this time is former Supreme Court judge Justice Cyriac Joseph.
While the government wants Justice Joseph to be made a member of the rights panel, the BJP has reportedly opposed it and has expressed its reservations over his track record as a judge. Justice Joseph is accused of not delivering his order in a corruption case involving Samajwadi Party's Mulayam Singh Yadav in 2009. The order was eventually pronounced by a reconstituted bench only after Justice Joseph retired.
Members of the NHRC are selected by a committee which includes the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Leaders of the Opposition in both Houses of Parliament, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
At a meeting of the panel at the PM's residence this morning, the government reportedly pushed for Justice Joseph's name. But BJP leaders submitted dissent notes.
This is not the first time that there has been a stand-off over NHRC appointments. In March this year, the BJP disagreed with the government's decision to nominate National Investigation Agency (NIA) chief SC Sinha, who will retire in October, to the human rights body.
The BJP had then said it was dangerous precedent to provide prestigious post-retirement posts for the heads of investigating agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or the NIA. The party had argued that if the country's most senior investigators believe that during or after exiting office, they are eligible for other high-profile jobs, the neutrality of their offices could be compromised because they may seek to please the government.
But despite the BJP's opposition, the government went ahead with the appointment.
Last year, the government had proposed former CBI director AP Singh's name for the human rights watchdog, but gave up the idea after the BJP objected to his name.