“In accordance with section 4 of the Act, the Chairperson and other members of the NHRCI 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 continues to be of the view that the selection process currently enshrined in the Act is not sufficiently broad and transparent. In particular, it does not:
– require the advertisement of vacancies;
– establish clear and uniform criteria upon which all parties assess the merit of eligible applicants; and
– specify the process for achieving broad consultation and/or participation in the application, screening, selection and appointment process.
The SCA acknowledges that the NHRCI has advocated for changes to the selection process to include requirements to require the advertisement of vacancies and the establishment of clear and uniform criteria upon which to assess the merit of eligible applicants. The SCA notes, however, that 1) these proposed changes would not address the previously-stated concerns of the SCA with respect to the requirement that there be broad consultation and/or participation in the application, screening, selection and appointment process, and 2) it is unclear whether the process would be formalized in legislation, regulation, or in another binding administrative guideline.
It is critically important to ensure the formalization of a clear, transparent and participatory selection and appointment process for an NHRI’s 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 again encourages the NHRCI to advocate for the formalization and application of a process that includes requirements to:
a) Publicize vacancies broadly;
b) Maximize the number of potential candidates from a wide range of societal groups and educational qualifications;
c) Promote broad consultation and / or participation in the application, screening, selection and appointment process;
d) Assess applicants on the basis of pre-determined, objective and publicly-available criteria; and
e) Select members to serve in their individual capacity rather than on behalf of the organization they represent.”