My Question to Accused Ex-CJI KG Balakrishnan by Prerna Prasad SignUp

My Question to Accused
Ex-CJI KG Balakrishnan
Prerna Prasad Bookmark and Share

Friday, September 23, 2011 - 2:00 PM

I was working in the morning shift on News Desk. Nawab Pataudi’s funeral was the day driver. Around 1 PM, camera crew came to the newsroom and started preparing for a newsroom interview. At 2 PM, former Chief Justice of India (CJI) KG Balakrishnan arrived and Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Saradesai was there to interview him. Accused in misusing the most revered office, Ex-CJI Balakrishnan was not here to answer questions related to the blots in his service. But, he was here to answer queries regarding National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which is being headed by him currently.

His predecessor Justice J S Verma publicly demanded Balakrishnan’s resignation as the chief of NHRC citing his involvement in several corruption cases. But, Balakrishnan refused to resign and even comment on Justice Verma’s demand.

The purpose behind writing this piece is to share with you that for the first time, I posed a question to a guest in the newsroom. And that too, to a former CJI.

My question was, “Can you tell us few examples where NHRC has taken concreteaction in the complaints it has received in the past few months?” An infuriated Balakrishnan answered, “What do you mean by concrete action? We have submitted several reports and have asked the authorities to provide compensation.” And, when I quizzed him again, “Is compensation the only way of providing justice?” his secretary replied, “We do not have powers to prosecute but in our reports we have suggested removal of certain officers and usually the authorities act on our advice.” Neither of them could substantiate their answers with aconcrete example and like all others, my question too remain unanswered.

After my query, Managing Editor Vinay Tewari asked, “What percentage of the complaints received have been resolved by NHRC?” Balakrishnan said, “Around 90-95%” and, this figure was also verified by his secretary. The last question by Rajdeep Sardesai was, “Honestly speaking, don’t you think NHRC needs reformation of its basic structure so that it could prove to be a more effective institution?” Balakrishnan said, “These suggestions are supposed to be put forth by media and it’s the Parliament which has to make amendments in statutes, I cannot do anything about it.”

On the whole, none of his answers had any new piece of information. And he failed to give convincing answers to critical questions. Whatever he said could be summarized as, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is an autonomous but ineffective body. All it does is to give recommendations to authorities, that violate human rights and there is no way it can compel them to act on its advice.

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