7 Aug 2023 10:30 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Monday said that it will pass a slew of directions in relation to the Manipur violence cases to "restore a sense of faith in the rule of law and build a sense of confidence".The Court said that it will constitute a committee of three former female High Court judges to "look at diverse aspects on humanitarian nature". It will be a "broad based committee" looking at...
The Supreme Court on Monday said that it will pass a slew of directions in relation to the Manipur violence cases to "restore a sense of faith in the rule of law and build a sense of confidence".
The Court said that it will constitute a committee of three former female High Court judges to "look at diverse aspects on humanitarian nature". It will be a "broad based committee" looking at things including relief, remedial measures, rehabilitaiton measures, restoration of homes and places of worship.
This Committee will be headed by Justice Gita Mittal (former Chief Justice of J&K High Court), and will consist of Justice Shalini Phansalkar Joshi( former Bombay HC judge) and Justice Asha Menon(former Delhi HC judge).
Directions on investigation
As regards investigation, the Court noted that the Centre has decided to entrust 11 FIRs relating to sexual violence to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The Court said that it will allow the transfer of these cases to the CBI. However, it will also include 5 officers from the rank of at least DySP if not SP drawn from other States "to ensure that there is a sense of faith and an overall feeling of objectivety". The Court clarified that these officers will be functioning within the administrative set up of the CBI.
Further, the Court said that it will add "one more layer of security" by appointing one officer to oversee the CBI investigation, who will be reporting back to the Court.
Mr.Dattatray Padsalgikar IPS, former Maharashtra DGP, was identified by the Court as the overseeing officer.
"For the purpose of ensuring proper investigation of the FIRs which are transferred to the CBI, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs shall place at the disposal of the CBI five officers drawn from the States of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha and NCT of Delhi at least of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. At least one of these five officers shall be a woman", the Court directed in the judgment which was released later.
As regards the State police investigation, the Court noted the statement of the State that it will constitute 42 SITs to look after cases which are not transferred to the CBI.
For these SITs, the Court said that it will order to include at least one inspector from other State Police forces. Further, the State SITs will be supervised by 6 DIG rank officers who are from outside State of Manipur.
"In order to ensure proper monitoring and supervision of the investigation by the police authorities, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs shall make available, on deputation, one officer of the rank of Police Inspector drawn from the States of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and NCT of Delhi. The Ministry of Home Affairs shall also nominate, on deputation, at least fourteen officers not below the rank of Superintendent of Police to be in charge of the respective SITs. The investigation by the SITs constituted for the State of Manipur shall also be monitored and supervised by Shri Dattatray Padsalgikar, the officer appointed by this Court for the purpose"
A bench comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra was hearing a batch of petitions relating to Manipur violence. The Manipur DGP was personally present before the Court as per the order passed last week.
On the last hearing, a bench led by CJI DY Chandrachud had slammed police investigation as "tardy". The bench had noted that the FIRs were registered several days after the occurrences and the arrests have been very few.
Court room exchange
When the matter was taken today, Attorney General for India R Venkataramani handed over the bench a note containing the details sought by the bench.
"The government is handling the situation on a very mature level", AG said. He informed the bench that the suggestion is to have murder cases investigated by senior level officers in the rank of SP and sexual violence cases will be investigated by a team comprising only female officers. "Today the position is still sensitive...Any externally directed investigation doesn't inspire confidence", AG said,
Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta informed the bench that eleven cases of sexual violence will be investigated by the CBI and State will form SITs for other cases.
Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for the organization 'Women in Governance-India', pointed out that while most of the FIRs are registered in Imphal, the victims reside in other jurisdictions and some of them are in relief camps.
Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for TMC MP Mahua Moitra, submitted that measures should be ensured to prevent the outbreak of further violence. She also read out certain suggestions, jointly prepared by herself, Advocates Vrinda Grover, Nizam Pasha and Shobha Gupta, regarding the constitution of a "high-powered committee" comprising retired female judges which will act as the "eyes and the ears of the court". She also suggested that the Special Investigation Team should consist of women officers with unblemished record from outside the State of Manipur. Jaising also urged the Court to implement the directions passed in the Tehseen Poonawalla case (2018) to prevent mob violence.
Advocate Nizam Pasha, for Zomi Students Federataion, stressed that the SIT officers must be selected by the Court to ensure impartiality. He also highlighted the issue of dead bodies of tribals lying unclaimed in hospitals. He submitted that the situation is such that the victims are not in a position to come to the hospitals in Imphal to identify and claim the bodies. Therefore, he suggested that the bodies be transferred to a hill district or a system be created by which the bodies could be identified online.
Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, for Manipur Tribal Forum Delhi, reiterated the submission made by him on earlier occasions that the "core ring leaders" who are behind the violence should be arrested and cautioned that until that is done, the violence will not abated.
Senior Advocate Maninder Singh submitted that there are foreign militants involved in the violence and the victims are not from one particular community alone. "These foreign militants have automatic rifles. The basic issue is poppy cultivation which funds them..they can just go over and come back from border..", he said.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan argued–
"One issue is the looting of ammunition from state administration. The allegation is that they were allowed to be looted. This is a very serious allegation because arms resulted in violence to get worse...It should be investigated whether the state coalesced."
The submission was also supported by Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, who said "5 lakh rounds of ammunition is a huge number. Some action against that has to be taken."
Countering this submission, Senior Advocate Ranjit Kumar underlined that the ammunitions were stolen from the camps established as per the Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement and not the state administration. He stated that the government as well as the militants each had a key to the ammunitions and it was the militants who had taken ammunitions from the camp.
Other reports on the judgment can be read here.
Case Title : Dinganglung Gangmei vs Mutum Churamani Meetei & Ors | 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 626 | 2023 INSC 698
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