IMPHAL, May 30: The Human Rights Law Network (Manipur) has in a release said that the High Court of Manipur has, in response to a Public Interest Litigation filed by the newly formed High Court of Manipur Bar Association through its president Rarry Mangsatabam passed an order directing the State Respondents to fill up the vacant posts of the State Chief Information Commissioner and State Information Commissioners of the Manipur Information Commission within a period of six months in accordance with the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005. According to the release, the said order was passed on May 29 by a division bench of the High Court of Manipur comprising of Chief Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice N Kotiswar Singh. The said Act mandates that by virtue of Sub Section (1) of Section 15 of the RTI Act, the State Government shall by notification in the official Gazette constitute a body to be known as Information commission to exercise the powers conferred on and to perform the functions assigned to it under this Act, it said.
Consequently, on 12th September 2006, the Government of Manipur had issued a notification in the name of the Governor of Manipur for the constitution of Manipur Information Commission under the relevant provision of the Right to Information Act, 2005 wherein RK Agousana Singh, IAS (retired) was being appointed as the Chief Information Commissioner under the above noted notification, it said.
Thereafter, the Manipur Information Commission started its functioning by its lone Chief Information Commissioner until the appointment of Birendra Singh, IAS (Retired) as Information Commissioner of the Manipur Information Commission. Consequently, the Chief Information Commissioner and the State Information Commissioner started functioning by holding their separate benches for sometime till the retirement of the Chief Information Commissioner on 12th September 2011, it said.
Thereafter, the remaining State Information Commissioner continued its functioning till the passing of the judgment and order dated 13th September 2012 passed in “Namit Sharma -Versus- Union of India” by the Supreme Court of India whereby the said judgment mandates for functioning of the Information Commission in the benches of two in which one of them should be a judicial officer, it said.
However, the operation of the above mentioned directions of the Supreme Court of India was stayed on 16th April 2013 during the pendency of a review petition filed the Union of India. In regard to its operation of the said judgment, the Supreme Court of India has further clarified that subject to orders that may be finally passed after hearing the Review Petition, the Competent authority will continue to fill up the vacant posts of the Information Commissions in accordance with the Judgment In Namit Sharma -Vs- Union of India except the relevant paragraphs which have been stayed by the Supreme Court of India, it said.
Having heard the submission of the learned counsel for the petitioner Meihoubam
Rakesh, the High Court passed the order directing the State Respondents to appoint the incumbent Chief Information Commissioner and the Information Commissioner within a period of six months, it said.
The Respondents in the PIL are (i) the State of Manipur, (ii) Commissioner/Secretary (DP & AR), Government of Manipur and Secretary (Law & Legislative Affairs), Government of Manipur.
The present PIL has been filed under the active initiative of Human rights Law Network (Manipur).