Manipur violence: SC forms 3-member judicial committee to oversee relief; ex-Maha DGP to supervise CBI probe

The committee will look into relief, remedial measures, rehabilitation measures, and restoration of homes and places of worship

Supreme Court of India (photo: IANS)
Supreme Court of India (photo: IANS)

Ashlin Mathew

The Supreme Court on Monday, August 7, formed a three-member committee of three former HC judges to oversee relief, rehabilitation of Manipur violence victims and “restore a sense of faith in the rule of law and build a sense of confidence”.

The committee will be headed by former Chief Justice of J&K HC Justice Gita Mittal and will comprise former Bombay HC judge Justice Shalini Phansalar Joshi and former Delhi HC judge Justice Asha Menon. The committee will look into relief, remedial measures, rehabilitation measures, and restoration of homes and places of worship.

A bench of Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud with Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, however, underscored that the committee will not replace the CBI but is being constituted to ensure faith in the rule of law.

“The broad outline is to use whatever in our power is to restore faith in rule of law. We will appoint a committee of three former HC judges. This committee of three judges will look at the investigation, relief, remedial measures, compensation and rehabilitation. It is a broad-based committee. It will look at the relief camps too,” said the Court.

The bench was a batch of pleas filed on the ethnic violence in Manipur, including a plea by two women from Kuki-Zo community who were videographed being molested and then paraded naked. The union government had ordered a CBI probe in the case; however, the women demanded an SIT probe.

Refusing to transfer the cases outside Manipur, the Supreme Court said it was not casting aspersions on the Central Bureau of Investigation, but the investigations will be overlooked by former Maharashtra DGP Dattatray Padsalgikar.

The apex court suggested that five or six deputy SP rank officers from different states to be included in the CBI probe team to ensure that “there was a sense of faith and an overall feeling of objectivity”. They will be functioning under CBI. Padsalgikar will be overseeing this CBI investigation, as "one more layer of security", observed the court.

The bench order both Padsalgikar and the three-member judicial committee to submit separate reports before the top court.

The Manipur DGP was present in the Court in accordance with the order passed last week as the CJI had slammed the investigation as tardy, while noting that FIRs had been filed much after the incidents and arrests had been too few.

The Attorney General for India R Venkataramani informed the bench that the suggestion is to have murder cases investigated by senior level officers in the rank of SP and sexual violence cases will be investigated by a team comprising only female officers, while the Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta informed the bench that the 11 cases of sexual violence would be investigated by the CBI and State will form SITs for other cases.

The state said that it would constitute 42 SITs to look after cases which were not transferred to the CBI. The Supreme Court bench said that it there should be at least one inspector from other state police forces. Additionally, the state SITs would be supervised by 6 DIG rank officers who are not residents of Manipur.

In the earlier hearing, the court had sought details from the state and the union government about the 6,000 FIRs that they had claimed to have registered in relation to the violence in the state.

Violence broke out on May 3 in Manipur between the Meiteis (who are currently not recognised as a scheduled tribe) and mostly Kuki tribal people. It originated after a Tribal Solidarity March called by the All Tribal Students' Union, Manipur (ATSUM) in the Torbung area of Churachandpur district. The violence has claimed more than 150 lives in Manipur and displaced around 70,000 people since May.

The march was organised to protest the Meitei demand for inclusion in the scheduled tribe (ST) category after the Manipur High Court ordered the state government to study their demand.

The demand for including the Meitei community in the ST category has been a matter of contention in Manipur for a while.

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