Manipur Violence: SC Steps Welcome, Though Belated

Manipur Violence: SC Steps Welcome, Though Belated

In the case of Manipur, Supreme Court was forced to intervene only because the Central and state governments were simply apathetic

EditorialUpdated: Wednesday, August 09, 2023, 12:20 AM IST
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Manipur Violence | PTI

It’s not the first time the Supreme Court has intervened in criminal cases so that justice is not only done but is also seen to be done. It had once done so in some cases arising out of the Gujarat riots. It even ordered the trial of such cases in Maharashtra. In the case of Manipur, it was forced to intervene only because the Central and state governments were simply apathetic. When a video of two women being paraded naked became viral and it came to the notice of the apex court, it warned the Centre that it would be forced to take steps if it remained noncommittal. Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a 32-second statement, expressing his anguish over the incident, which lost much of its punch when he clubbed Manipur with Congress-ruled states, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.

Following Modi’s statement, the Manipur police swung into action and arrested some of the men who molested the women. Surprisingly, the state feigned ignorance about the macabre incident, which happened as early as on May 4, the second day of the occurrence of violence. The police knew about the incident but they did precious little to bring the accused to book. It was against this backdrop that the court was compelled to intervene. Under the Constitutional scheme of things, the judiciary, the executive and the legislature have to work in tandem and not step into one another’s domain. Ordinarily, the Centre should have on its own taken action to control violence. The fact is that violence has been raging in parts of the state even after three months have passed.

The court has formed a three-member committee consisting of retired judges of high courts like Gita Mittal, Shalini P. Joshi and Asha Menon to visit the state and understand the condition of the people, especially women, who have been suffering the most. They should be able to suggest measures that would deliver justice to over 50,000 people who have been pushed into relief camps or into a state of penury. The court has also appointed former Maharashtra police chief Dattatray Padsalgikar to oversee the manner of investigation of cases, which will be the responsibility of the Central Bureau of Investigation. The investigations have to be led by a Joint Director-rank officer with five Deputy Superintendents of Police drawn from outside of Manipur assisting him. One can only hope that these measures will yield results, and those who lost their kith and kin and properties will get adequate compensation.

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