Manipur violence: Three-judge Bench continues hearings monitoring the situation

The Bench led by the Chief Justice of India Dr D.Y. Chandrachud posted the matter for further hearing to issue directions on the high-powered committee’s latest reports and the affidavit filed by the state government.

TODAY, a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court addressed certain concerns of the petitioners with respect to the unabating violence in Manipur.

The Bench led by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dr D.Y. Chandrachud and also comprising Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj is seized of the matter of relief and rehabilitation of violence-affected people of Manipur and an early control of the situation which has been described as akin to a “civil war”.

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.

Today, at the outset, Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of the Union and state governments, filed the status report on the recovery of arms for the perusal of the Bench.

Mehta also filed an affidavit stating that the issues being debated in the court have already been brought to the notice of the three-member committee which was constituted by the Supreme Court on August 7.

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 Vrinda Grover, appearing for the organisation Women in Governance, and assisting the court, brought to the notice of the court that the bodies of two victims of sexual violence, who were raped and killed on May 4, have not yet been returned to the families.

Despite writing to the nodal officers and the committee, no action has been taken in respect of the bodies, Grover submitted.

To this, Mehta submitted that the committee has taken cognisance of the grievance and issued certain directions to the state government, which are being implemented.

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, raised the concern that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has not filed a status report on the investigation of the cases transferred to them.

According to Jaising, since the court is monitoring the investigation, the CBI is bound to provide an update on the investigation.

Jaising also urged the court to facilitate coordination between the committee, which is providing psycho-social support to the victims of violence, and Dattatray Padsalgikar, who is looking into the investigation of the cases.

On August 7, in addition to appointing the high-powered committee, the Supreme Court had also appointed the director general of police (DGP), Maharashtra, Dattatray Padsalgikar, to oversee the investigation by the CBI.

Replying to Jaising, Mehta argued that the CBI is not mandated to give updates to the court. He also stated that the court had already “purposefully” appointed an officer, Padsalgikar, to supervise the investigation.

The CJI remarked that Padsalgikar, a seasoned officer from the Maharashtra police cadre who has served extensively in the Northeast, has visited Manipur; he is aware of the sensitivities of the case.

The Bench allowed Padsalgikar time to monitor the situation and thereafter ask for a status report. 

The matter is posted for further hearing on the committee’s latest reports and the affidavit filed by Mehta on September 25.

The Leaflet