As blockades multiply and persist in Manipur, Supreme Court directs government to ensure supply of basic necessities

The court also inquired about the steps being taken to deal with the outbreak of chickenpox, measles and other diseases in relief camps. The Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta replied that the government was taking appropriate steps.

TODAY, the Supreme Court directed the Union and Manipur governments to ensure the supply of food, medicines and other basic necessities in the violence-affected areas of the state.

The Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dr D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice J.B. Pardiwala, part of a three-judge Bench which also comprises Justice Manoj Misra (who was indisposed today), heard the parties on the blockade in Moreh, a town in district Chandel.

Senior advocate Meenakshi Arora appeared on behalf of the three-member committee constituted on August 7 by the Supreme Court.

She submitted that basic food supplies are unable to reach the residents in Moreh, a town on the Myanmar–India border, on account of the ongoing blockade in the region.

The committee, headed by Gita Mittal, former Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, has been given a broad-based mandate to oversee government actions— including relief, rehabilitation and compensation— for those impacted by the violence.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing on behalf of Mahua Moitra, member of Lok Sabha from the Krishnanagar constituency in West Bengal and assisting the court, emphasised that the blockade in Moreh is causing starvation.

Several respondents in the matter raised the issue of blockades in other areas of Manipur.

Calling blockades a sensitive issue, the court refrained from issuing directions to the armed forces on the issue.

Taking into account all the blockades in place in Manipur, the Bench decided to direct the Union and state governments to take necessary steps to ensure the supply of food and other basic items.

On Jaising’s request, the court directed the governments to ensure the supply of basic necessities through all possible modes, including through air dropping in places where blockades cannot be removed.

Arora also highlighted that the committee is apprised of the outbreak of chickenpox, measles and other diseases in several relief camps in Manipur.

To this, the Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta stated that the government is aware of the issue and prayed to the court to trust that the administration will take proper remedial and preventive measures.

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi highlighted the destruction of over 600 churches in Manipur during the ongoing conflict.

The court directed that copies of the petition be served to the committee and the state government.

Ahmadi also raised the question of provision of compensation to those displaced outside Manipur by the conflict.

Taking notice of the concern, the Bench reiterated the need to upgrade the victim compensation scheme of Manipur to bring it in conformity with the scheme propounded by the National Legal Services Authority.

The CJI noted that the issue of the compensation scheme will be taken up during the next hearing.

In order to facilitate communication between the expert committee and the government on the aforementioned issues, the Bench directed Mehta to ensure official communication of the appointment of two nodal officers.

On August 25, the Bench had directed the Union home ministry and the chief secretary of Manipur government to designate one nodal officer each for coordinating the measures and providing necessary support to the committee.

The matter is posted for further hearing on September 6. 

The Leaflet