31 July 2023 11:06 AM GMT
In the Manipur case hearing on Monday, the Supreme Court disapproved of an attempt made by an intervenor to draw equivalence with crimes against women happening in other parts of the country. The Court highlighted that the violence in Manipur are of an "unprecedented magnitude", happening in the middle of "communal and sectarian strife".A bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY...
In the Manipur case hearing on Monday, the Supreme Court disapproved of an attempt made by an intervenor to draw equivalence with crimes against women happening in other parts of the country. The Court highlighted that the violence in Manipur are of an "unprecedented magnitude", happening in the middle of "communal and sectarian strife".
A bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra was dealing with the crime related to the horrific video from Manipur, which showed two women being paraded naked before being subjected to sexual violence by a mob of men. The bench was also hearing a batch of petitions relating to the ethnic violence which has been going on in the State since May.
CJI Chandrachud orally remarked that one could not excuse what was taking place in Manipur on the ground that similar crimes were happening in other parts of the country. The bench underlined that drawing comparisons between incidents in different states would not be conducive to addressing the specific issue of violence faced by women in face of communal strife in Manipur.
The remarks of the bench came when Advocate Bansuri Swaraj, appearing for an intervenor, submitted that similar incidents of crime against women were taking place in other parts of the country such as West Bengal. Through her application, she urged the Court to take congizance of these issues too, saying "all daughters of India need protection". She commenced her arguments by stating–
"After this horrific incident came to light in Manipur, an identical incident took place in Bengal."
However, CJI DY Chandrachud expressed his disinclination to hear the application and said–
"We will hear you on that later. We are hearing Manipur matters right now."
However, Advocate Swaraj pressed for her plea to implement similar mechanisms as adopted to abate Manipur violence in other cases of violence against women too. She said–
"Whatever mechanism your lordships are implementing- whether it is transferring the investigation to CBI or monitoring the investigation yourself, the daughters of India, pan-India need to be protected. I am grateful for my lords for taking cognizance of whatever is happening in Manipur"
"The horrific video came to light in May 2023. In July, a mob of 40 to 50 men disrobed a Panchayat poll candidate, molested her, and paraded her nude in a village in the district of Howrah in West Bengal. Another candidate in post-poll Panchayat violence was also paraded nude. It is identical to what has happened in Manipur. No FIR are has been lodged."
To this, CJI DY Chandrachud orally remarked–
"Undoubtedly there are crimes against women all over the country. That is unfortunately our social reality. We are however dealing with something of unprecedented magnitude- namely crimes and perpetuation of violence against women in a situation of communal or sectarian strife of a nature which is taking place in Manipur. So there is no gainsaying in the fact that there are crimes which are taking place against women in West Bengal as well. The only answer is this- you cannot excuse what is taking place in one part of the country like Manipur on the ground that similar crimes are happening in other parts too. Question is how do we deal with Manipur? What suggestions do you have for Manipur? If you have something to assist the court on that or if you have something in terms of laying down a framework for investigation, please tell us that. What sort of investigation framework should be let down, please tell us that."
However, Advocate Swaraj continued to insist that the Court's mechanisms for addressing such violence needed to consider all regions and states equally. She said–
"In the case of West Bengal, it is equally grave because there the violence against women is actually being used to punish the electorate. Ms Indira Jaising was asking about the number of FIRs. She said 5995 FIRs in Manipur. My lords, there are 9304 FIRs in West Bengal. Only 3% people are incarcerated. 97% of perpetrators are roaming free. My humble request is that the conscience of civil society has definitely woken up here. What is happening in Manipur cannot be condoned. But my humble request is that more bone chilling facts are coming to light. Similar things are happening in West Bengal, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Kerala. My lords may kindly protect all daughters of India and not limit it to Manipur. Two women in Bikaner have been raped, accused are police officers. All daughters must be protected."
Upon her arguments, CJI DY Chandrachud remarked–
"Are you for a moment saying do something for all the daughters of India or don't do anything for anybody at all?"
"All daughters of India", Swaraj replied.
The detailed version of a full courtroom exchange in the matter can be found here. Live updates posted from the hearing can be read here.
Case Title: X And Anr. v. The State Of Manipur And Anr W.P.(Crl.) No. 327/2023 + connected matters