Justice Balakrishnan completes tenure as NHRC Chairperson
Graphic: Justice Balakrishnan greets a colleague at the ICC meeting in Geneva, March 2015
Justice K.G. Balakrishnan has completed his tenure as the sixth and longest serving Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India.
Justice K.G. Balakrishnan completed his tenure on 11 May 2015 as the sixth and longest serving Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
The former Chief Justice of India took up the role on 7 June 2010.
During his tenure, Justice Balakrishnan was instrumental in charting a range of initiatives to promote and protect human rights in the country, placing significant emphasis on increasing the outreach work of the NHRC.
One of his major initiatives was to start "open hearings" of complaints on the problems of scheduled castes and atrocities against them in different states of the country. He also restarted the practice of NHRC "camp sittings" in different states to dispose of pending cases in the presence of government authorities.
With this focus on increasing awareness about human rights, the Commission registered a record number of 493,445 cases and disposed of 464,079 cases during his tenure.
Justice Balakrishnan promoted national level consultations with the different stakeholders on various issues of human rights to form consensus on recommendations to the government. During his tenure, more than 40 such conferences, seminars and colloquium were organised by the NHRC.
In addition, the NHRC conducted a record number of 501 training programmes for teachers, para-military forces, police personnel, students and other sections of society.
The Commission also filed seven petitions/intervention applications in matters of human rights issues before the Supreme Court and High Courts during his tenure, which included the issue of powers and role of the NHRC in respect of enquiry in two cases of encounter deaths.
Justice Balakrishnan strongly advocated for the passage of the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2011 and also urged the government for suitable modification in section 377 of the Penal Code to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexuals and transgender people.
During his tenure, the NHRC also commenced a study to develop a code of ethics for Indian industries to promote corporate-social responsibility.
Justice Cyriac Joseph, NHRC Member, will take on the role of Acting Chairperson until the appointment of a new Chairperson.
Date: 11 May 2015
- Justice Balakrishnan greets a colleague at the ICC meeting in Geneva, March 2015 - APF, Michael Power