“In November 2016, the SCA was of the view that the requirement that the Chair be a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and that the majority of members be recruited from the senior judiciary severely restricts the potential pool of candidates, particularly as it relates to the representation of women in the governing body of the NHRCI. The SCA acknowledged that the justification for these requirements is based on the NHRCI’s quasi-judicial function. However, it noted that: 1) the quasi-judicial function is but one of the ten (10) functions enumerated in section 12 of the Act; 2) section 3(2) also provides for the appointment of two (2) members amongst persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights, who are not required to be chosen from the judiciary; and 3) no women had been appointed to any of the positions on the governing body of the NHRCI since 2004. 

The SCA further noted that, of the 468 staff positions in the NHRCI, only 92 (or 20%) were women. 

The SCA acknowledges with appreciation the steps that the NHRCI has taken to address the concerns noted by the SCA regarding gender balance in its membership and staff. 

With respect to its membership, the SCA notes that a woman was appointed in April 2017, and that the NHRCI has advocated for changes to its Act to increase the number of members and provide that one (1) be a woman. The SCA notes, however, that the proposed amendment has not been adopted, and that having only one (1) member who is a woman does not represent appropriate gender balance. It encourages the NHRCI to continue to advocate for changes to its enabling law to provide for appropriate gender balance in the composition of its membership. 

With respect to its staff, the SCA notes the efforts made by the NHRCI in recent appointments to increase the representation of women, as well as the gender sensitization programme it organized for its staff in July 2017 in collaboration with APF. It encourages the NHRCI to continue these efforts, in particular by ensuring that diversity of Indian society is represented including, but not limited to, Dalits and other religious or ethnic minorities.”