Manipur violence: Story so far in Supreme Court

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On August 01, the Supreme Court of India heard a batch of petitions on Manipur violence including the recent sexual violence where two women were paraded naked and then gang-raped. While hearing the matter yesterday, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud slammed the investigation conducted by the Manipur Police as ‘lethargic’. The SC bench added, “The state police is incapable of investigation, they have lost control. There’s absolutely no law and order. If law and order machinery cannot protect people what happens to citizens?” Further, CJI stated that this would lead to an erosion of public trust in the efficacy of the legal system as well as question the functioning of the constitutional machinery. In this context, the bench ordered the DGP (Director General of Police) of Manipur to present on August 07, 2023, on the court premises. After hearing the contentions, CJI stated that “We are thinking out loud- we may think of constituting a committee consisting of former judges of High Courts. It will be a broad-based committee. First, we will decide on the remit of the committee such as relief, compensation, rehabilitation- to sort of supervise the work of the government.” 

The Supreme Court bench including CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice Manoj Misra, and Justice JB Pardiwala was hearing the matter related to Manipur violence including the sexual violence in Manipur. Two victims of the sexual assault, who were paraded naked during the violence, approached the Apex court whereas Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appeared for them. During the court proceedings on July 31, SA Sibal stated that the women do not want the transfer of investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or the transfer of trial to Assam. In response to this, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, submitted that the Centre never said to transfer the trial to Assam. Arguing further, Senior Advocate Indira Jaising contended that transfer of trial is not needed for now because it is at the stage of the investigation. Furthermore, Attorney General R. Venkataramani submitted that the investigation should be conducted by the CBI. 

Further, the Senior Advocate appearing for petitioners, Colin Gonsalves, submitted that there is a need to constitute a Special Investigation Team. He added that “He has no faith in CBI since the Central Government closed its eyes to what is happening in Manipur”. Following this, Advocate Vrinda Grover contended that there are various cases of violence against women as well as bringing to light the fact that zero FIRs were filed in some of the cases but nothing happened thereafter. In addition to this, Advocate Nizam Pasha submitted 14 other instances of violence against women and submitted that the cases should be transferred to the SIT for investigation. In light of the Manipur violence case, Advocate Bansuri Swaraj appeared in an intervention application and highlighted similar kinds of sexual violence in Bengal and Chhattisgarh. CJI interrupted her and stated that “We will hear you on that later. We are dealing with Manipur right now”. While hearing the matter on August 01, SC posted it for further hearing on August 7, 2023. 

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