Retired Justice Arun Kumar Mishra takes charge as NHRC head

Justice Arun Kumar Mishra, who retired as a Supreme Court judge last year, was named head of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday. 

Justice Mishra, a dedicated Supreme Court judge who retired on September 2 last year, caused controversy earlier this year when he called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “versatile genius” who “thinks internationally and acts domestically.” 

The President nominates the Chairman and representatives of the NHRC following the advice of a committee chaired by the Prime Minister. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Union Home Minister, and the leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, and the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha are the other members of the board.

The Chairman must be a former Chief Justice of India, as per the original 1993 Human Rights Act. In July 2019, the act was modified by introducing a sub clause 2(i) in Section 3 that used the word “Chief Justice of India or a judge” in the sense of chairman nomination.

Only non-CJIs had formerly acted as acting chairpersons. The chairperson’s initial five-year term was lowered to three years or until the incumbent reached the age of 70, whichever occurred first, under Section 4(i) of the modified statute. Following the modification, a Supreme Court judge would be appointed chairwoman of the commission for the first time, following the retirement of the present chairperson, Justice H.L. Dattu, former Chief Justice of India.

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