Debating the Protection of Human Rights Bill (Amendment) Bill 2019 in the Lok Sabha, Congress Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor on Friday, slammed the Modi government for arresting activist Sudha Bharadwaj in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence in 2018, while she was awarded by Harvard for her humanitarian work in Chhatisgarh. He also highlighted the casualties in Assam due to the National Registration Citizenship saying the bill must be withdrawn and amended by the Home Minister.
"Sudha Bhardwaj was awarded by harvard for Human rights while our government arrested her. This bill is cosmetic. The minister must withdraw it. 57 people have committed suicide in Assam due to NRC. It is an abuse of human rights," he said.
Calling the current National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) a toothless tiger, he said that the Modi government ignores most of its recommendations adding that political leaders should not be members of the commission.
"This NHRC is toothless tigers. Government ignores its recommendations. The independence of the NHRC must be taken seriously especially when the government nominated its leader as a memeber of NHRC. Only after an outcry his nomination was rescinded. Leaders should be banned from NHRC memebership," he added.
Talking about how the proposed bill violates the Paris Principles agreed by the United Nations, he added:
" Entire logic of the bill is to ensure the International community that we reform the Human Rights commission in lines with Paris Principles. The NHRC top post is vacant and it should not be so as a hostile government can hijack it."
Slamming the arrest of arrests of top advocates Indira Jaisingh and Anand Grover, Tharoor said that this government is trying to stifle internationally recognized human rights defenders.
"Days after the International Commission of Jurists condemned the attempt of this government to stifle the voices of two of the most famous and internationally recognized human rights defenders in our country - two senior advocates Indira Jaisingh and Anand Grover who have been in the forefront of defending cancer patients other vulnarable sections of society, this bill is debated," said Tharoor.
According to PRS, introduced by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on July 8, 2019, the bill aims at amending the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993 so that the NHRC Chairperson can be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or a Judge of the Supreme Court. It also allows three members to be appointed, of which at least one will be a woman also it allows chairpersons of various commissions such as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, and National Commission for Women, National Commission for Backward Classes, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities are members of the NHRC.
PRS further states that the Bill reduces the term of office to three years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier and allows reappointment of members of the NHRC and SHRCs for a period of five years. The Bill also allows the Secretary-General and Secretary to exercise all administrative and financial powers (except judicial functions), subject to the respective chairperson’s control.