“Article 3 of the PHRA states that the NHRC shall consist of the Chairperson who shall be a former Chief Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court, a Commissioner who shall be a current or a former Judge of the Supreme Court, a Commissioner who shall be a current or former Chief Justice of a High Court, three Commissioners who shall have knowledge of or practical experience in human rights (of whom one shall be a woman) and the Chairpersons of seven National Commissions.

 The SCA acknowledges the appointment of one woman out of the six-member commission in December 2023 with experience in human rights in line with the requirements of section 3 of the PHRA. The SCA further acknowledges information from the NHRC that it has engaged State authorities to complete the appointment of the two outstanding Commissioners with knowledge of or practical experience in human rights and that they anticipate the appointment will be made within one month of the end of the 2024 general elections. However, the SCA continues to reiterate its previous assessment that the current composition of the membership of the NHRC with only one woman is not sufficient to meet the pluralism requirements of the Paris Principles. This is further reiterated in terms of the composition of the staff where the SCA notes that approximately 20% of the NHRC staff complement are women while 24% belong to minority groups.

The SCA is of the view that a diverse decision-making and staff body facilitates the NHRI appreciation of, and capacity to engage on, all human rights issues affecting the society in which it operates and promotes the accessibility of the NHRI to all citizens.

The SCA recommends that the NHRC continues to advocate for the completion of the appointment process to fill remaining vacancies in its leadership body, and for further amendments to the PHRA, to ensure a pluralistic balance in its composition and staff, by ensuring that diversity of Indian society is represented including, but not limited to, religious or ethnic minorities and the equitable representation of women on the NHRC’s decision-making body.

 The SCA refers to Paris Principle B.1 and to its General Observation 1.7 on ‘Ensuring pluralism of the NHRI’.”