Biren govt told to revive rights panel

Manipur High Court

Imphal: Manipur High Court has directed the state government to appoint the chairperson and members of the Manipur Human Rights Commission so that it can start functioning with adequate staff members.

Established in 1998, the commission has not been functioning since the expiry of the term of the then chairperson and members in May 2010. The Manipur government has not appointed the chairperson and members so far despite demands by citizen's organisations.

Acting on a public interest litigation filed by former state medical director Th. Suresh, now chairman of Imphal-based Dr Suresh Centre for Foreign Studies and Placement, a two-judge bench of the high court directed the state government to make the appointments within three months from the date of passing the order.

The high court had announced on January 4 its judgment, which was reserved on September 9 last year. The certified copy of the order was issued on Thursday. The litigation was filed in January 2014.

The bench, comprising acting Chief Justice N. Kotishwar Singh and Justice Kh. Nobin Singh, also directed the state government to appoint other officers in a time-bound manner as the state commission, in the absence of adequate officers and staff, will not be able to function effectively and efficiently.

The petitioner had prayed for filling up of the post of chairperson and members and for deputing an officer not below the rank of secretary and a police officer not below the rank of inspector-general of police to the rights commission.

In its judgment, the court cited a Supreme Court ruling that setting up of state human rights commission is mandatory and not dependent upon the discretion of the state government.

Manipur is a state where human rights abuse by security forces is allegedly rampant. At present, a CBI special investigation team, constituted by the Supreme Court, is investigating 98 alleged fake encounter cases.

The state government has been maintaining that no eligible candidate is coming forward to be the chairperson of the commission.

"Revival of the state commission will provide the victims of alleged human rights violations or other rights the forum to seek their grievances addressed. The high court passed the order after hearing the petition 34 times in the past four years," Suresh told reporters on Friday.

Rakesh Meihoubam, director of the Manipur unit of the Human Rights Law Network, said, "As there is no forum for the poor people to seek their grievances addressed, people are thronging the chief minister's office on Meeyamgi Numit (People's Day) to meet the chief minister (N. Biren Singh)."

On the 15th day of every month, Biren Singh listens to public grievances.


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