14 May, 2021

Tiger, Tiger Whining Bright!

What was supposed to be India’s watchdog against rights violations has turned into what critics call a government arm for obfuscation and occasional apologies

Tiger, Tiger Whining Bright!

In a 2016 interview to a leading national daily, former chief justice of India and then chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), H.L. Dattu, had lamented that he was heading a statutory body that was, in reality, a “toothless tiger”. The appellation was rei­terated by the Supreme Court, in 2017, while hearing a petition on extra-judicial killings in Manipur. The nation’s apex body for the protection of rights was called out by its own chief and the top court directed the Centre “to take note of the concerns of the NHRC and remedy them at the earliest”. These seem to have had little effect. From being a toothless tiger in 2016, the NHRC appears to have become, in 2020, one that also lost its will to even bare its fangs over growing ini­quities, and suffered an impaired vision that saw flagrant human rights violations only selectively.

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