The Manipur High Court on Tuesday gave one last opportunity to the state government to take measures to ensure that the Manipur State Human Rights Commission is functional by the next date of hearing on January 13, 2023, be it by appointing a regular chairman or by way of an interim arrangement.
If the state government fails to take steps, the Manipur 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 and the HC would have to deal with the same in a timely manner, the HC stated.
The court issued the direction after Imphal Free Press highlighted how many are awaiting to raise their grievances and complaints of rights violations before the MHRC, as it remains non-functional since the retirement of acting chairperson Khaidem Mani. The report entitled "Manipur Human Rights Commission remains non-functional since August" was published on December 9.
The advocate general of Manipur on Tuesday 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.
He also produced a copy of the letter of December 9, 2022 received from the Legal Officer, government of Manipur, stating that 3 (three) applications were received in response to the advertisement of December 9.
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.
The advocate general, however, admited that in terms of the judgment rendered by the Supreme Court, the post has to be filled up, at the latest, within three months from the day the vacancy arose. Presently, the vacancy in the post of MHRC chairman arose on September 1, upon the incumbent demitting office on August 31. Therefore, the period of three months is also long over.
The HC stated that however, the state government is still in the process of gathering applications and does not seem inclined to make any interim arrangement at the moment.
The division bench of the Manipur High Court is 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.
The HC also noted that International Human Rights Day was celebrated recently in the state of Manipur.
Other local newspapers also reportedly 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.