By Paojel Chaoba
IMPHAL, April 18: Incumbent President of All Manipur Bar Association (AMBA), Khaidem Mani, has tried to mislead the public without cross checking proper facts and references of his own association, members of the AMBA executive said today.
Mani had derided a report made by this newspaper on April 14 last under the caption, `Bar Association cries foul at CM`™s alleged recommendation of a junior officer for judgeship.`™
The gist of that report was, AMBA had sent a representation to concerned authorities of the judiciary that the recommendation of the Chief Minister for elevating S Serto for judgeship of the High Court of Manipur was not conventional nor ethical, as there are six senior judicial officers more senior than him, who all have the requisite qualification to be appointed judgeship of the Manipur High Court.
However, refuting the report as `handiwork of a few interested persons`™, and as `unfortunate and regretful`™, Khaidem Mani sent a self styled press release on April 16 conveyed by e-mail, besides speaking to the paper on the phone.
This paper also on maintaining neutrality, ethics and freedom of expression carried the `clarification`™ under the top headline, `AMBA suspects impersonation and forgery in alleged memo on HC judge appointment: AMBA president.`™ His statement mentioned that `there was no resolution taken by AMBA to submit such a letter/memorandum on the subject concerned to any authority.`™
He even hinted that it may be the handiwork of vested interests and that legal action would be taken up against them after thorough inquiry.
IFP however has found out that the General Secretary of AMBA did make the representation as per Resolution number 4 of the executive meeting held on February 18. There is no question of impersonation and forgery in this regard for all the stationary as well as the signatures are confirmed as authentic. The relevant signed documents are with IFP.
Mani had further pointed out that the alleged memo is unwarranted and misleading pointing out that the High Court of Manipur `was inaugurated not in the month of December,2011 as alleged but actually it was inaugurated on 23rd March, 2013`™.
Here, it may be pointed out that this paper was referring to the DO letter number 16/2/2012-Law (GHC) dated August 27,2012 made by the Chief Minister to Salman Khurshid where it clearly stated that, ` You may like to recall the new High Court of Manipur which is one of the most beautiful architectural High Court building complex in the country was inaugurated on December 3, 2011 by Dr. Manmohan Singhji, Hon`™ble Prime Minister of India and Smt. Sonia Gandhiji, Hon`™ble Chairperson UPA in your presence among others.`
The report was based on the this D.O.letter and if Khaidem Mani is correct, then the Chief Minister must have erred in the letter to the former Union Law minister.
Mani also mentioned that, `Judgeship does not follow any time scale promotion scheme and appointments are made strictly on merit, though seniority is given some consideration.`™
Here, it may be taken note that the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill,2014 which was introduced in the Lok Sabha on August 11, 2014 by the Minister of Law and Justice, Mr Ravi Shankar Prashad gives procedures for selection of High Court judges, Chief Justice of India and Supreme Court judges deeply emphasizes on seniority as a top criteria.
The AMBA recommendation had also mentioned that `recommendation of Songkhupchung Serto for elevation as Judge is not based on seniority and it is against the directive of the Hon`™ble Chief Justice of India, that elevation shall be on seniority basis unless there is adverse remark. Those six senior judicial officers have no adverse remark till date.`™
The AMBA President did not even seem aware not only of these information but of developments in the organisation he is president of. But this is AMBA`™s internal matter. The IFP however stands by its initial report as it was based on statements mentioned in the AMBA documents.
Further, the extract copy of the proceedings of the Executive Committee AMBA held at its office today further substantiates the IFP story that a representation had been sent to concerned judicial areas for nullifying the recommendation of S Serto by AMBA.