Supreme Court directs professor charged for interview on Manipur crisis to approach high court virtually

The division Bench denied further extension of interim protection from arrest to Dr Kham Khan Suan Hausing, a professor of political science at the University of Hyderabad.

ON Monday, the Supreme Court allowed Dr Kham Khan Suan Hausing, a professor of political science at the University of Hyderabad, to file a petition before the Manipur High Court virtually and allowed his counsel to appear via the online mode.

A division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M. Trivedi was hearing a transfer petition praying to transfer a criminal petition, instituted under Articles 226 and 482 of the Constitution, in the Manipur High Court to the Delhi High Court.

A first information report (FIR) was lodged under Sections 153A, 200, 295A, 298, 505(i) and 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) against Dr Hausing for giving an interview to The Wire.

On July 10, a second FIR was filed against him on the ground that his name had been added to the electoral roll of the Churachandpur assembly constituency in 2005 allegedly using fraudulent means.

On August 14, 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 allowed Dr Hausing two weeks to move the Manipur High Court to seek the necessary remedies, including anticipatory bail.

Today, the court took notice of the Order dated September 22, where the Bench had directed the petitioner to seek remedy before the high court under Article 482 of the Constitution.

In the Order, the Bench had directed the high court to permit the counsel for the petitioner to appear through a video conferencing platform.

The Advocate General of the high court had also been directed to ensure that e-filing facility was made available in the Manipur High Court.

During the course of the hearing today, senior advocate Anand Grover, appearing for the petitioner, prayed the court to allow the continuation of the Order dated August 14 for another couple of weeks.

Grover explained that it took several weeks for the delivery of the hard copies of the documents pertaining to the petition, as per the previous instructions of the Manipur High Court, proof that the situation in the state was not conducive for the conduct of normal judicial business.

Grover also sought to remind the court that thereafter, the three advocates, engaged by Grover to represent Dr Hausing in the Manipur High Court had withdrawn from the case due to alleged threats.

Grover also brought to the court’s recall the fact that the residents of one of the lawyers was vandalised by a mob, underlining the present and continuing threat to legal representatives in the state.

Grover contended that these circumstances were beyond the control of the petitioner, yet the interim protection granted to him was dissolved for no fault of his.

Justice Trivedi remarked that the option of appearing before the Manipur High Court virtually was open to Grover.

Justice Trivedi also stated that despite the expiry of the two-week interim protection, no coercive steps had been taken by the Manipur police against Dr Hausing.

Grover responded, “Why should I [the petitioner] suffer the agony [of anticipating an arrest]?”

Consequently, dismissing the transfer petition, the Bench granted liberty to the petitioner to file the petition through the virtual mode and to appear before the high court online.