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K.G. Balakrishnan, former chief justice of India, is tipped to head the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), a highly-placed government source said Wednesday.

The source said the formal decision to that affect would be taken “very soon”.

“The matter is being judged by the home ministry, and I’m not aware of the movement of the file. But the decision will be taken very soon,” a senior minister said.

The NHRC chairman’s position has been lying vacant since May 2009 when former chief justice of India Rajendra Babu retired from the position.

In response to a petition by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), the Supreme Court had last year sought the central government’s explanation on why the NHRC chief’s post was vacant.

The post of the NHRC’s chairman can only be filled by a former chief justice of India. Since the retirement of Rajendra Babu, various former chief justices of India, including Y.K. Sabharwal, have refused the government’s offer for appointment as the rights panel chief.

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