The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India needs a complete overhaul in view of lack of transparency in the appointment of chairman and other members, non-inclusion of human rights activists and the need for the Commission to have a direct relationship with the public, according to a report by NGOs.

Talking to reporters after submitting the report, ‘An NGO Report on the Compliance with the Paris Principles by the National Human Rights Commission of India,' to the International Coordination Committee (ICC) on National Human Rights Institutions on January 22, this year, Henry Tiphagne of People's Watch said the ICC emphasised factors such as transparency, broad consultation throughout the selection and appointment process, advertising vacancies, maximising the number of potential candidates from a wide variety of societal groups and selecting members to serve in their own capacity rather than on behalf of the organisation they represent in the selection and appointment procedures. Sadly, none of these guidelines was followed in the selection and appointment of the NHRC.

The selection and appointment process had been widely criticised by the public, he charged.

The Commission not only lacked financial resources, but historical knowledge and intellectual capacity. However, the NHRC refused to acknowledge it was under resourced financially and had not requested for an increase in staff or members to the Commission, it said.

The Commission remains inaccessible to almost the entire population it was purported to serve. Also the NHRC had not developed a strong working relationship with the SHRCs. Activists believe that integrating the SHRC into the NHRC structure would only be a practical system and it would pave the way for good governance, the report pointed out. The report is the outcome of a peer group review process in the NHRC, he added.

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