The appointment of other members is not dependent or contingent upon appointment of the Chairperson, and hence other members can be appointed independent of the existence or absence or appointment of the Chairperson, the Bench held.
The Manipur High Court has directed the state to appoint the chairperson and the members of the Manipur Human Rights Commission within a period of three months.
Th. Suresh Singh had filed a public interest litigation seeking for a direction to the State to fill up the vacancies of the members and other supporting staff of the Manipur Human Rights Commission.
Responding to the petition, the State had submitted before the court that because of non-availability of retired Chief Justice, the state government could not appoint the chairperson and because of non-appointment of chairperson, other members cannot be appointed, as without a chairperson, the State Human Rights Commission cannot be constituted, by referring to Section 21 of the Act which provides that the State Commission shall consist of a chairperson and other members as provided thereunder.
Rejecting this contention, the bench of Acting Chief Justice N Kotiswar Singh and Justice KH Nobin Singh observed that the Act itself contemplates certain situations where there may not be a chairperson for one reason or other, in which event, any other member can be authorised to function as the chairperson until the appointment of the new chairperson as provided under Section 25 of the Act.
“It is not only in the case of death, resignation, but for any other reason, as such a situation is covered by the word “otherwise” in the Section. The meaning of the word “otherwise” is wide enough to cover any other situation other than death or resignation. It can also cover such situation when a Chairperson demits office on reaching the age of superannuation or the term because of which a vacancy occurs in the office of the Chairperson,” the bench said, holding that the state need not wait for the appointment of a chairperson for the other members to be appointed.