Bharatiya Janata Party MP Satyapal Singh on Friday once again questioned Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, reported PTI. “It is our belief that we are descendants of rishis [sages],” Singh said in the Lok Sabha during a discussion on Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

The Lok Sabha passed the bill, which proposed changes to the composition and appointment terms of the National Human Rights Commission and the state human rights commissions.

Singh was making the point that the Indian culture and tradition did not value human rights, and instead focused on building human character. He claimed human rights were a western concept, and accused NGOs working in the field of targeting the establishment, police and soldiers, instead of Maoists, criminals and terrorists. Listing out the Centre’s claims about the benefits of the bill, Singh quoted a former judge as saying that rights of humans should be protected, “not of brutes and rapists”.

The former Mumbai Police chief, who was also a minister in the previous National Democratic Alliance government, said: “Our culture says we are the children of rishis. I don’t want to offend people who believe that we are children of monkeys but according to our culture we are children of rishis.”

His remark drew sharp criticism from the Opposition. “Unfortunately, my ancestors are not rishis,” said Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP Kanimozhi. “My ancestors are homo sapiens, as science says, and my parents are Shudras. They were not even born of any god, or part of any god. They were born outside and I am here and many people from my state are here because of the social justice movement and the human rights which we fought for till today and we would continue doing that.”

Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy said Singh’s remark was an antithesis of the Constitution. “Article 51(A), sub-Section (h) of the Constitution says that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform,” he said. “What Satyapal ji has said is that we have not evolved from monkeys. He is denying the theory of evolution of Darwin.” Roy’s party colleague Mahua Moitra also opposed Singh.

This is, however, not the first time that Singh has opposed Darwin’s theory. In January 2018, he had questioned the theory of evolution and pushed for it to be removed from school and college curriculum. In July 2018, he reiterated his objections to Darwin’s theory of evolution, saying he does not consider himself a “child of monkeys”.