The High Court gave “one last opportunity” to the State Government to take measures and to ensure that the Manipur State Human Rights Commission is made functional at least by the next date of hearing which falls on January 13, 2023, “be it by appointing a regular Chairman or by way of an interim arrangement”.
The High Court of Manipur on Tuesday rebuked the government of Manipur for its failure to appoint a regular chairman of the State Human Rights Commission. In an order, the court pulled up the state government and sternly warned that if the state authorities failed to do so by January 13, 2023, the High Court “would be left with no option but to entertain complaints regarding violation of human rights from aggrieved persons in the form of writ petitions”.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by Urikhimbam Nobokishore Singh that was represented by advocate O Kiranjit. The matter came up before the bench comprising of Manipur High Court Chief Justice Sanjay Kumar and Justice A Bimol Singh.
Lenin Hijam, Advocate General (AG) of Manipur stated that an additional affidavit has been filed, in terms of the earlier order, furnishing the details of the advertisements issued by the State Government for the purpose of filling up vacancies in the Manipur State Human Rights Commission.
The AG also produced a copy of the letter dated December 9, 2022 received from the Legal Officer, government of Manipur, stating that three applications were received in response to the advertisement. He further stated that no decision has been taken by the State Government with regard to making an interim arrangement under Section 21 (6) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, to fill up the post of Chairman.
Lenin Hijam, however, admitted that in terms of the judgment rendered by the Supreme Court, the post of the chairman has to be filled up, at the latest, within three months from the day the vacancy arose. Presently, the vacancy in the post of Chairman, Manipur Human Rights Commission, arose on September 1, 2022, upon the incumbent demitting office on August 31, 2022.
The High Court observed that the “period of three months is also long over” and the State Government was still in the process of gathering applications and did not seem inclined to make any interim arrangement at the moment.
The High Court stated, “We are utterly dissatisfied with the state of affairs as it is a statutory obligation of the State Government to ensure that the body is made functional. It may be noted that International Human Rights Day was celebrated recently in the State of Manipur and it was reported widely in the newspapers that many persons have complaints in relation to violation of human rights but are left without a remedy, owing to this body being non-functional since September, 2022”.
The court gave “one last opportunity” to the State Government to take measures and to ensure that the Manipur State Human Rights Commission is made functional at least by the next date of hearing which falls on January 13, 2023, “be it by appointing a regular Chairman or by way of an interim arrangement.
“In the event the State Government fails to take steps in that regard, this Court would be left with no option but to entertain complaints regarding violation of human rights from aggrieved persons in the form of writ petitions and this Court would have to deal with the same in a timely manner. It would be for the State Government and the office of the learned Advocate General, Manipur, to ensure that necessary steps are taken to facilitate such timely disposal in all such cases”, observed the court. AG Lenin Hijam sought time to enable the State to take steps and to report the progress made. It may be mentioned here that even the last State Human Rights Commission’s chairman was appointed after due intervention by the court.