A Bill to change the process of appointment of chairperson and members of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was introduced in Lok Sabha on Monday.

Introducing the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019 Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said the legislation was brought to strengthen the NHRC, but the opposition Congress alleged that it was an attempt to undermine the institution.

A key change proposed in the legislation is that a retired Supreme Court judge could also be considered for the Chairpersons position, currently reserved for former Chief Justice of India.

Reddy said the post of Chairperson of the NHRC remains vacant when a retired Chief Justice of India is reluctant to take the responsibility.

“So we want to make a change so that a retired judge of the Supreme Court can also be appointed as the chairperson of the NHRC,” Reddy said.

The Minister said the government is receptive to good suggestions and the amendments are in line with Modi government’s policy of ‘Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’.

Similarly, an amendment for the appointment of members is also being considered.

The members could be picked from a pool of retired Chief Justices of High Courts.

Currently, a serving or retired SC judge is considered.

The NHRC was constituted under the Protection of Human Rights Act in 1993. The Act was last amended in 2006.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury opposed the Bill, saying “it is continuing from the RBI to the CBI, all institutions are undermined and diluted, and now it is the time to this institution”.

He said it was a dilution of the parent Act and will reduce the status of NHRC

Chowdhury said improvement can be done on the existing framework.

“NHRC is a democratic institution and there is a need to bolster democratic institutions.

“We will not allow its dilution,” he said.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said the government has ignored the recommendations of the NHRC in the Bill, he said