“In accordance with Section 4 of the Act, the Chairperson and other members of the NHRC are appointed by the President of India based on the recommendation of a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House of the People, the Minister in-charge of the Ministry of Human Affairs in the government of India, the Leader of the Opposition in the House of the People, the Leader of the Opposition in the Council of States, and the Deputy Chairperson of the Council of States. The SCA acknowledges the position of the NHRC, that the members of the selection committee are elected officials accountable to the people of India and include voices from diverse political perspectives. However, the SCA does not consider this to sufficiently promote broad consultation or participation in the selection process, nor maximize the number of candidates from a wide range of groups. The SCA notes that the selection committee does not provide for the formal involvement of civil society organizations in the process.

The SCA reiterates the concern raised in its November 2017 and March 2023 review of the NHRC that the selection process currently enshrined in the PHRA is not sufficiently broad and transparent. In particular, it does not:

– require the advertisement of vacancies; and

– specify the process for achieving broad consultation and/or participation in the application, screening, selection, and appointment process.

 It is critically important to ensure the formalization of a clear, transparent, and participatory selection and appointment process for an NHRI decision-making body in relevant legislation, regulations, or binding administrative guidelines, as appropriate. A process that promotes merit-based selection and ensures pluralism is necessary to ensure the independence of, and public confidence in, the senior leadership of an NHRI.

The SCA also notes with concern that the NHRC has not provided information on steps taken to address its recommendations on selection and appointment made in November 2017 and March 2023. The SCA recommends that the NHRC advocates for the formalization and application of a process that includes requirements to: a) Publicize vacancies broadly; and b) Promote broad consultation and / or participation in the application, screening, selection and appointment process.

The SCA refers to Paris Principle B.1 and to its General Observation 1.8 on ‘Selection and appointment of the decision-making body of NHRIs’.”