The commission is a multi-member body consisting of a chairman and four members. The chairman should be a retired chief justice of India, and members should be serving or retired judges of the Supreme Court, a serving or retired chief justice of a high court and two persons having knowledge or practical experience with respect to human rights. In addition to these fulltime members, the commission also has four ex-officio members—the chairmen of the National Commission for Minorities, the National Commission for SCs, the National Commission for STs and the National Commission for Women.
The chairman and members are appointed by the president on the recommendations of a six-member committee consisting of the prime minister as its head, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, leaders of the Opposition in both the Houses of Parliament and the Central home minister. Further, a sitting judge of the Supreme Court or a sitting chief justice of a high court can be appointed only after consultation with the chief justice of India.
The chairman and members hold office for a term of five years or until they attain the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier. After their tenure, the chairman and members are not eligible for further employment under the Central or a state government.
The president can remove the chairman or any member from the office under the following circumstances:
The salaries, allowances and other conditions of service of the chairman or a member are determined by the Central government. But, they cannot be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment.
All the above provisions are aimed at securing autonomy, independence and impartiality in the functioning of the Commission.
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