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Next in PM Narendra Modi's firing line are...

June 20, 2014 09:41 IST

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Kavita Chowdhury

Members of national panels have received calls from ministries to step down. Kavita Chowdhury reports

Not just governors, chiefs of statutory national commissions, too, have been asked to step down from their posts by the Narendra Modi government.

Several members of the National Disaster Management Authority appointed by the United Progressive Alliance government on Thursday said they had received calls from the home ministry, after which five members resigned.

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights chairperson Kushal Singh, who had been asked by the women and child development ministry to step down, however, refused to budge and moved the high court here.

It is believed Mamta Sharma, chairperson of the National Commission for Women, has also been asked to resign.

Sharma, a former Congress MLA from Bundi in Rajasthan, couldn't be contacted, as she was abroad.

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Photographs: Press Information Bureau

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Kavita Chowdhury

At a press conference on Thursday, NDMA Vice-Chairman M Shashidhar Reddy said he had already quit three days ago (on Tuesday), while other five members of the commission had resigned, after receiving calls from the home ministry in this regard.

Reddy, also a Congress politician from Telangana , said he had not received any calls for resignations from the government.

NDMA member K M Singh said, "I have already submitted my resignation." He confirmed he had received a call from the home ministry.

NDMA has eight members. 

Those who have resigned are former director-general of the Central Industrial Security Force K M Singh, former civil aviation secretary K N Shrivastava, J K Bansal, former director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre B Bhattacharjee and K Salim Ali, former special director of the Central Bureau of Investigation.

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Image: NDMA Vice-Chairman M Shashidhar Reddy
Photographs: Press Information Bureau

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Kavita Chowdhury

Speaking to Business Standard, NCPCR chairperson Kushal Singh said she had received two phone calls-from Sarada Ali Khan, joint secretary in the women and child development ministry, and Anil Joshi, additional secretary in the ministry-, asking her to step down.

On June 9, Singh moved court, naming the two bureaucrats in her petition. The court has issued a notice to the ministry in this regard.

"If they have to remove me, they must use the due procedure laid down in Section 7 of the law (Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act) for removal from office. Why should I resign? Resignation is a voluntary act. The NCPCR is an autonomous body and if we are to be removed at will, the whole purpose and mandate for the commission will be defeated," said Singh, former chief secretary of Rajasthan.

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Image: NCPCR chairperson Kushal Singh
Photographs: Press Information Bureau

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Kavita Chowdhury

While most of these commissions are statutory bodies, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes is a constitutional authority.

Its chairperson, P L Punia, criticised the new government's move to pressurise commission chiefs to resign.

"Using third-degree methods like those adopted by the police, and pressurising people to resign is just not done," he said.

Punia categorically denied reports he had been asked to step down.

The Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe commissions had constitutional backing, he said.

On other commissions, Punia, a former Congress MP from Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh, said, "There has to be solid grounds for removal and chairpersons of these statutory bodies are not obliged to tender their resignations."

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Image: National Commission for Scheduled Castes chairperson P L Punia
Photographs: Press Information Bureau

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Kavita Chowdhury

According to unconfirmed reports, Karan Singh, president of Indian Council for Cultural Relations, has also been asked to step down.

Often, appointments to national commissions are political, with bodies such as the National Commission for Women drawing flak for this.

NCPCR chairperson Kushal Singh says the current developments present an opportunity to highlight the need to bring about transparency in appointments at these commissions.

On Thursday, Shekhar Dutt resigned as governor of Chhattisgarh.

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Image: Indian Council for Cultural Relations president Karan Singh
Photographs: Press Information Bureau

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