NHRC official aghast to find Modi photo and slogan in emails
A senior National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) official was aghast on Wednesday to learn that the Centre’s e-governance facilitator was appending to the rights watchdog’s outgoing emails a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his “sabka saath” slogan, a move he said could affect perceptions about the organisation’s independence.
The development comes days after the same agency, the National Informatics Centre (NIC), had received a rap from the Supreme Court for a similar embellishment of the top court’s outgoing emails without its knowledge or permission.
The NHRC official said the apex rights organisation had been clueless about the matter, till this correspondent drew attention to it on Wednesday evening, since only the receivers of the mails and not their writers could see the footer with Modi’s picture and the slogan. Apex court sources had earlier made a similar point.
“Now that you have brought the matter to us, we will take it up with our chairperson, Justice Arun Mishra,” the NHRC official, who declined to be named, told The Telegraph.
The NHRC official said: “We had no idea that our forum was being used for such purposes by the NIC (which operates under the ministry of electronics and information technology). Our website and digital networks are handled by the NIC as a facilitator.”
A media release emailed by Jaimini Kumar Srivastava, NHRC deputy director (media and communications), that this newspaper had received on Wednesday evening carried the footer with Modi’s picture and the slogan “Sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas, sabka prayas (Together with all, development of all, trust of all and effort by all).”
Even the moving band of graphics on top of the home page of the NHRC’s official website showed a photo of the Prime Minister, but with a different slogan, “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav”, which promotes the official celebrations for the 75th anniversary of Independence.
The NHRC official underlined that the central and state governments were the biggest litigants before the rights watchdog, which took up thousands of cases relating to human rights violations by the government and its instrumentalities every year.
“In such a situation, using the NHRC portals to pedal government policies or its political personalities is certainly not acceptable,” the official said.
The Supreme Court registry had on September 23 evening been alerted by some people that its outgoing emails were being appended with Modi’s photo and the “sabka saath” slogan.
On September 24 morning, after the matter came to the attention of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, the NIC was told to remove the footer immediately and all its senior officials were pulled up, court sources had said. The NIC had obliged within an hour, they had added.
An apex court source too had said that such a footer would damage perceptions of the court’s independence, particularly because the central government was the biggest litigant before the top court.
The emailed media release this newspaper had received from the NHRC was about an advisory to the Centre and states towards fixing responsibility for the deaths of sanitary workers during hazardous tasks, and protecting the rights of manual scavengers and those engaged in hazardous cleaning jobs.
The NIC was established in 1976 to provide technology-driven solutions to central and state governments in various fields.
Its website says it “offers a wide range of services which includes multi-gigabit nationwide networks NICNET, NKN, National Data Centres, National Cloud, pan-India VC infrastructure, Command and Control Centre, multi-layered GIS-based platform, Domain Registration and Webcast. This plays a significant role in delivering citizen-centric e-services.”