The Madras High Court on Friday directed the Tamil Nadu government to appoint a chairperson for the State Human Rights Commission here as soon as possible, preferably within three months.

The First Bench comprising Chief Justice M.Y. Eqbal and Justice T.S. Sivagnanam passed the order on a public interest litigation petition.

The petitioner sought to quash a government order and direct the authorities to take necessary steps to appoint a retired High Court Chief Justice as chairperson and a retired High Court Judge as member of the commission within a stipulated period.

The Bench said that the post of chairperson had been lying vacant since August 2011. To date, no appointment had been made. Advocate-General, A. Navaneethakrishnan, drew the court’s attention to an amendment in the law which inter alia provided that in the event of the occurrence of any vacancy in the post of chairperson by reason of his death, resignation or otherwise, the government by a notification may authorise one of the members to act as chairperson until appointment of a regular chairperson was made. Consequently, the government issued the notification on January 9 this year authorising a member to act as chairperson.

The Bench said that although the notification had been issued in January, steps had not been taken to appoint a chairperson. Without going into the question whether a member of the SHRC who admittedly was not a retired Chief Justice could act as a chairperson, it was directing the government to appoint a chairperson.

High Court passed order based on public interest litigation petition

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