The Supreme Court (SC) of India granted protection to retired Colonel Vijaykant Chenji from coercive action in the criminal case filed against him in connection with his book namely, The Anglo-Kuki War 1917-1919 published in 2019. Today, the matter was mentioned before a three-judge bench of the SC including Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice Manoj Misra, and Justice JB Pardiwala. During the SC proceedings, Senior Advocate Anand Grover, appearing for Chenji, submitted that the chambers of the lawyers appearing in the case before the High Court had been ransacked, so they had to withdraw from the case.
Along with this, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta urged the Supreme Court to consider the broader implications and requested the CJI to inquire whether the Manipur High Court was functioning properly or not. In context with the issues addressed by SA Grover, the bench ordered, “Issue notice. Mr. Anand Grover submits that he will file an affidavit stating that it is not possible to engage a lawyer to appear before the High Court. Protect from coercive action till the next date of hearing. Serve the standing counsel of the State of Manipur.”
Further in the argument, SG Mehta contended that the petitioners should have approached the Manipur HC whereas CJI replied to this, “We have to satisfy our conscience that lawyers are not appearing, then we can arrange legal aid also. I will not let Supreme Court become a Section 482 CrPC (inherent powers of High Court) court…we are conscious of that.”
According to the plea moved by Chenji before the Court mentioned that the copy of the FIR registered against him was never served for the book. He also claimed that the FIR registered against him on the basis of a complaint filed by an organization called Federation of Haomee was intended to harass and persecute him at a time when sectarian strife had been plaguing Manipur.
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