By: O. Joy Singh
“One single integrated Judiciary having jurisdiction and providing
remedies in all cases arising under the Constitutional Law, the Civil Law or the Criminal Law is essential to maintain the unity of the country”
Justice Delayed! Justice Denied!
Who has delayed justice? And, who has denied justice? In a democratic country it is commonly known to all, the essential and importance of the strengthening of the ‘administration of justice’ and promotion of ‘justice delivery system’. Democracy cannot survive without judiciary. If there is no judiciary, there shall not be democracy. Hence, why justice is delayed and why justice is denied? Who is responsible? Why it is delayed and denied? The endeavor of the note is to highlight the issue for our educated people and lay-readers of the society for our self- -scrutiny and self-response in the interest of fair play of administration of justice.
It was about one year later after the Twelve Assembly Election of Manipur Assembly 2022, the Union Minister of Law and Justice, New Delhi was requested by a letter dated 28th March 2023 for filling up of 02 (two) vacancies of judges including the Chief Justice of the Manipur High Court for expeditious trial/disposal of Election Petitions pending before the High Court in order to fulfill the mandatory provision of the Sec. 86(7) of R.P. Act. 1951, which reads as follows:
86(7). Every election petition shall be tried as expeditiously as possible and endeavor shall be made to conclude the trial within six months from the date on which the election petition is presented to the High Court for trial.
The sanctioned strength of the Manipur High Court is 05 judges including the Chief Justice and the working strength of the judges was 03 and 02 seat of judges had fallen vacant since Feb., 23. Out of 03 judges only 02 judges including the Acting
Chief Justice were trying the election petitions pending before the High Court. As per statement issued on 6thJune 2023 by the High Court of Manipur, the number of cases pending in the High Court of Manipur is shown as 5519. The total number of election petitions filed is 36 against the 60 seats of Manipur Assembly i.e. 66%. The figures shown claims the highest record of pending cases in the country in election petitions. Here, It is also quite interesting to observe that some of the election petitions filed in Manipur High Court for the term of the election of Eleventh Manipur Legislative Assembly were anfractuous without any result.
Responding to the letter dated 28th March to the Union Minister of Law and Justice mentioned above, the Ministry stated vide their No. F.No, K- 11019/19/14/2023-US-/II (Pt) dated 26th April 2023 (which was received on 2 nd June 2023) that no proposal has been received from the Manipur High Court for the vacancy that occurred on 28-02-2023. A Memorandum dated 5th June 2023 was submitted to:-The Hon’ble Governor of Manipur requesting for favour taking appropriate action and copy of the letter was endorsed to 1. The Chief Secretary, Government of Manipur, 2 . The Registrar General of Manipur High Court and 3. The Union Ministry of Law and Justice through (Appointment division), New Delhi. The Bar Council and the Manipur High Court Bar Association also were apprised of the status for their needful action accordingly.
The MoP contains due provisions for appointment of the Chief Justice of the High Courts and Judges of the States in order to ensure that the vacancies are to be filled up duly in time. Consequent upon elevation of the Chief Justice, PV Sanjoy Kumar to the Supreme Court, the office of the Chief Justice of Manipur High Court has fallen vacant since Feb. 6th 2023, Justice Muralidarn has since been functioning as the Chief Justice of the High Court. In the meanwhile, Mr. Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur was recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium for appointment as the Chief Justice of Manipur High Court on 9th Feb. 2023, the central correspondence was, however, not responded by the Manipur government. The Supreme Court Collegium held on 10th January 2022 has also approved the proposal for elevation of the 02 Judicial Officers as Judges in the Manipur High Court, namely – 1. Shri Aribam Guneshwar, and Mrs. Golmei Gaiphulshillu Kabui. On Feb. 3, 2023, Shri Aribam Guneshwar was appointed as the Judge of the Manipur High Court and the appointment of Mrs Gaiphulshillu Kabui was pending for many months together in the Union Ministry of Law and Justice and she was appointed recently on Oct. 13th, 2023, after 21 months of the recommendation by the Supreme Court Collegium. .
After 6 months Mr. Justice Siddharth Mridul was recommended for appointment as the Chief Justice of Manipur on 5th July 2023. On 5th Oct,23, Hindustan Times
reported first that ‘ there was progress on the transfer and appointment of Mr. justice Mridul as the Chief Justice of Manipur High Court with the N.Biren Singhgovernment replying to the Central correspondence after withholding its opinion for three months. The recommendation to appoint justice Mridul Manipur high court chief justice was made on July 5. On 17th Oct. 23, Hindustan Times subsequently reported that ‘the Indian Government has finally appointed Sidharth Mridul as the new chief justice of the Manipur High court more than three months after his nomination. The report also maintains that ‘ On Oct. 9th, 23 when the Supreme Court took up a contempt pea complaining against inordinate delay by the centre in clearing the names, Attorney General R. Venkataramani informed the bench that Justice Mridul’s notification will be issued soon. The bench also cautioned the government against any further delay, setting a deadline of Oct. 20 when the case will be heard next. A day after the government’s assurance, the collegium recommended the transfer of MV Muralidharn, the acting chief justice of Manipur High Court to Calcutta High Court’, causing 01 seat of Judge again vacant.
The office of the Chief Justice of Manipur High Court had fallen vacant since 6th Feb. 2022, has been filled up after about 8 months. After 6 months of recommendation by the Supreme Court Collegium. Mr. Justice Siddharth Mridul of Delhi High Court has been appointed as the Chief Justice of Manipur High Court on 20th Oct. 2023. Mrs. Golmei Gaiphulshillu Kabui also appointed as the judge of Manipur High Court on 13th Oct. 2022, after 21 months of recommendation by the collegium. Now, consequent upon the transfer of justice Muralidharn again 01 seat of justice has fallen vacant.
Henceforth, it shall not be wrong to observe here that as regards the ‘strengthening of administration of justice’ and ‘justice delivery system’ the Union Government and the State BJP Government led by N. Biren Singh are responsible for such delay and denial of justice in the State. It is really unfortunate that the government could not take the notice of such grim working-situation of the judiciary in such state of extremely crisis-borne crisis in the extreme corner of the country.
“Forget not that the greatest curse for a man is to remain a slave. Forget not that the greatest crime is to compromise with injustice and wrong”