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Manipur violence: Supreme Court clarifies statements under Section 164 of CrPC to be heard by local magistrates in Manipur

In earlier hearings, the Supreme Court had directed the trials pertaining to violence in Manipur to be conducted in Assam. Today, the court clarified that statements under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 shall be heard by local magistrates in Manipur. 

TODAY, the Supreme Court directed the local magistrates in Manipur to record statements under Section 164 (recording of confessions and statements) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973 pertaining to violence in Manipur.

A three-judge Bench led by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dr D.Y. Chandrachud and also comprising Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra heard an application by the registrar general of Manipur High Court seeking clarification on the role of local magistrates.

On August 25, the Bench had directed the trials pertaining to the violence in the state to be conducted in Assam.

The Bench had considered the issue of the continuing violence in Manipur, as well as issues of connectivity and infrastructure, while considering whether the trials could be conducted in Manipur or should be shifted out of the state.

The Bench had directed the chief justice of the Gauhati High Court to nominate one or more officers of the rank of a chief magistrate and sessions judge in Guwahati for the trials.

Today, addressing the doubts raised in connection with the Order dated August 25, the court clarified that statements under Section 164 of the CrPC will be recorded by local magistrates in Manipur.

Senior advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for the organisation Women in Governance, and assisting the court, informed the court that some of the witnesses who are victims of the violence have been forced out of the state into refugee camps and as internally displaced persons.

To this, the Bench held that their statements will be recorded by the magistrate of the jurisdiction where the victims or witnesses are temporarily residing.

Further, the court clarified that the test identification parade of the accused persons will also be conducted by the local magistrates in Manipur.

A counsel appearing on behalf of a three-member committee which was constituted by the Supreme Court on August 7, apprised the court of the committee’s seventh to twelfth reports.

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.

The court directed the reports to be distributed among the petitioners and respondents.

On September 6, the Bench had directed the state government to file additional status reports on certain issues raised in the court such as the recovery of arms looted from police stations and camps, upgrading the victim compensation scheme of Manipur and dealing with the dead bodies. 

The matter is posted for further hearing for the perusal of the status reports. 

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