11 Aug 2023 4:57 AM GMT
The Apex Court expressed its anguish of the manner in which women have been subjected to grave acts of sexual violence in the course of the sectarian strife in Manipur. The Court observed:"Subjecting women to sexual crimes and violence is completely unacceptable and constitutes a grave violation of the constitutional values of dignity, personal liberty and autonomy all of which are protected...
The Apex Court expressed its anguish of the manner in which women have been subjected to grave acts of sexual violence in the course of the sectarian strife in Manipur.
The Court observed:
"Subjecting women to sexual crimes and violence is completely unacceptable and constitutes a grave violation of the constitutional values of dignity, personal liberty and autonomy all of which are protected as core fundamental rights under Part III of the Constitution. Mobs commonly resort to violence against women for multiple reasons, including the fact that they may escape punishment for their crimes if they are a member of a larger group"
The bench comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra further stated :
“In time of sectarian violence, mobs use sexual violence to send a message of subordination to the community that the victims or survivors hail from. Such visceral violence against women during conflict is nothing but an atrocity. It is the bounden duty of the state – its foremost duty, even – to prevent people from committing such reprehensible violence and to protect those whom the violence targets.”
In the aforenoted background, the Court directed to constitute a committee of three former High Court Judges that will essentially look at relief and rehabilitation of the survivors. Pertinently, the said committee will comprise of:
Gita Mittal, former Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court;
Justice Asha Menon, former Judge of Delhi High Court;
Justice Shalini Phansalkar Joshi, former Judge of Bombay High Court
Notably, the committee will be required to take the following steps:
Enquire into the nature of violence against women that occurred in the State of Manipur from 4 May 2023 from all available sources including personal meetings with survivors, members of the families of survivors, local/community representatives, authorities in charge of relief camps and the FIRs lodged as well as media reports; and
Submit a report to this Court on the steps required to meet the needs of the survivors including measures for dealing with rape trauma, providing social, economic, and psychological support, relief and rehabilitation in a time bound manner;
Ensure that free and comprehensive medical aid and psychological care to victims of survivors is provided;
Ensure conditions of dignity in relief camps set up for displaced persons including suggestions for additional camps;
Ensuring the payment of compensation and restitution to victims of violence;
Issuing directions for the appointment of nodal officers at relief camps and the provision of toll-free helplines to provide updates on any investigation, missing persons, and the recovery of dead bodies. The nodal officers must also ensure that they maintain a database of all persons who are housed in their respective relief camps.
The above directions have been passed in the backdrop of the horrific video of May 4, showing two women in Manipur being paraded naked and subjected to sexual violence amidst the ethnic conflict in the State. The Supreme Court on July 20, took suo motu cognizance of the matter and asked the Centre and the State Government to inform it of the steps taken to bring the perpetrators into law.
“We are very deeply disturbed by the videos which have emerged yesterday about the two women who were paraded in Manipur. We are expressing our deep concern. It is time that the government really steps in and takes action. This is simply unacceptable”, CJI had said while taking suo motu cognizance.
“Using women as instrument in an area of communal strife to inflict gender violence is deeply disturbing. This is the grossest of human rights violations”, CJI said.
Other reports about the judgment can be read here.
Case Title : Dinganglung Gangmei vs Mutum Churamani Meetei & Ors | 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 626 | 2023 INSC 698
Click here to read the judgment