Relief for Manipur students as SC allows admission to Central universities in other states

A plea before the Bench led by Chief Justice India (CJI) Dr D.Y. Chandrachud by 284 students sought admission to Central universities in places to which they have relocated following the violence in Manipur.

TODAY, the Supreme Court directed displaced students of Manipur University, Imphal to avail their education at two Central universities in Assam or Meghalaya, or through the online mode.

The displacement has been caused by the violence that erupted in Manipur in May this year, which has been described as akin to a “civil war”.

The violence has sharply divided the state into two regions based on ethnicity, the central Imphal valley dominated by the majority Meiteis, most of whom are Hindu, and the hills surrounding the valley dominated by the mostly Christian Kuki-Zo and Naga tribal communities.

A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice India (CJI) Dr D.Y. Chandrachud and also comprising Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, was hearing a plea by 284 students, seeking relocation to Central universities across the country.

At the previous hearing, senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, appearing for the petitioners, had argued that the students had already lost six months of the academic year.

Today, the Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, representing the Union government, apprised the court of the steps taken by Manipur University for its students.

Mehta submitted that the university has appointed nodal officers to facilitate the admission of students in the hills and the provision of Internet facilities.

On the CJI’s inquiry whether the Kuki students can get their education in the hills and if this solution is “workable”, the advocate general of Manipur replied in the affirmative.

To this, the counsel appearing for the petitioner stressed that students have taken refuge across the country and they apprehend risk to their lives in going back to the hills.

On availing of internet facilities, the counsel submitted that displaced students are living on charity in various parts of the country and lack resources for computers or internet facilities.

The counsel also objected to the “long-drawn” process of contacting the appointed nodal officer.

On June 8 this year, the government of Manipur appointed nodal officers to coordinate with the directorate of government schools of the state and other authorities for admission of displaced students in feasible nearby schools and on other matters such as the availability of books.

Having already lost a semester, the counsel pressed for the immediate relief of admission to Central universities in places where students have sought shelter.

Of the 284 students who have petitioned the Bench, 93 have relocated to Delhi, 30 to Guwahati, 125 to Mizoram and Shillong and 33 to southern states, the counsel added.

Opposing the plea for admission to Central universities where displaced students are relocated, Mehta argued that the displacement constitutes a “temporary situation” wherein the students can return to Manipur after the violence settles down.

Mehta expressed concern that since certain Central universities are considered “good”, it would be difficult to ascertain whether a student relocated out of displacement or after getting admission to another Central institution.

The CJI expressed doubts about the online learning aspect of education and suggested that the students be accommodated in a few Central universities.

In reply, Mehta presented the option that the displaced students could attend classes at Assam University in Silchar and North-Eastern Hill University in Shillong.

Finding the solution acceptable, the Bench allowed the dispersed students to opt for either of the Central universities in Silchar and Shillong.

The Bench directed students who wished to get admission to either of the two universities to contact the nodal officer appointed by Manipur University.

In addition, the Bench directed the process of relocation to be completed within two weeks from the time of request from such students.

In the alternative, the students have been permitted to complete their pending education at Manipur University through the online mode.

The Bench also noted that students can place their grievances before the three-member expert 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.

The committee was directed to engage with the state administration and in case of the scope of another solution, submit a report for further directions.

The Leaflet