Probe into Manipur video case transferred to CBI, Centre tells SC

The top court, on July 20, took note of the incident and said the use of women as instruments for perpetrating violence was "simply unacceptable in a constitutional democracy"

Representative image of a CBI official (photo: NH File Photo)
Representative image of a CBI official (photo: NH File Photo)


The Centre on Thursday informed the Supreme Court that it has transferred to the CBI the probe into a case related to two women being paraded naked in strife-torn Manipur, saying the government has "zero tolerance towards any crimes against women". The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in an affidavit filed through its Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, also urged the top court to transfer the trial outside Manipur in the case for conclusion of the trial in a time-bound manner. Seven persons have been arrested in the case so far. The details of the sexual assault on two women came out in the open last week through the leak of a video of the incident.

The top court, on July 20, took note of the incident and said it was "deeply disturbed" by the video and the use of women as instruments for perpetrating violence was "simply unacceptable in a constitutional democracy".

A bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud had directed the Centre and the Manipur government to take immediate remedial, rehabilitative and preventive steps and apprise it of the action taken.

Filing its response, the Centre said, "The Government of Manipur vide letter dated 26.07.2023 has recommended to Secretary, DOP&T for entrusting the case to CBI for further investigation, which has been duly recommended to Secretary, DOP&T by MHA vide letter dated 27.07.2023. The investigation shall, thus, be transferred to the CBI." The affidavit said the central government believed that the investigation should be completed at the earliest and the trial be also conducted in a time-bound manner "which must take place outside Manipur".

"The central government, therefore, makes a specific request that the entire case, including trial of the offence in question, be ordered to be transferred by this court to any state outside the state of Manipur.

"The power to transfer the case/trial outside any state is only with this court and, therefore, the central government is making this request to this court to pass such an order with a further direction to conclude the trial within a period of six months from the date of the filing of charge sheet by the CBI," it said.

It said the Manipur government has informed that seven main accused were arrested and remain in police custody for further examination.

Several police teams have been formed at various locations to arrest identified culprits and an additional Superintendent of Police (SP)-rank officer has been entrusted to investigate the case under the supervision of other senior officials, it said.

"The approach of the central government is of zero tolerance towards any crimes against women. The central government considers the offences like the present one to be too heinous which deserve to be taken not only with the seriousness it deserves but justice should be seen to be done so that it has a deterrent effect throughout the nation with respect to crimes against women," it said.

This is one of the reasons why the Centre, with the consent of the state government, has taken a decision to entrust the investigation to an independent investigating agency, that is the CBI, the affidavit said.

As remedial measures, the MHA secretary said the Manipur government has formed "district psychological support teams for providing mental health intervention at various relief camps".

"To prevent repetition of such incidents, reporting of all such cases to the Director General of Police (DGP) by the police station in-charge of the jurisdiction has been made mandatory," it said.

One senior police officer of the SP rank will monitor these investigations under the direct supervision of the DGP, the affidavit said.

A suitable reward for reporting such incidents and for providing information leading to the arrest of the absconding culprits will also be given, it said.

"An all-women team of one senior special (psychiatrist), one specialist (psychiatry) and one psychologist from the district hospital in Churachandpur was deputed to assist the victims," it said.

The central government will also provide the services of experts from its medical institutions as per requirement and legal aid has also been offered to the victims through the District Legal Services Authority, it said.

The bench will hear pleas related to the ethnic violence in Manipur on July 28.

Tension mounted in the hills of Manipur after a May 4 video surfaced last week that showed two women from one of the warring communities being paraded naked by a few men from the other side.

The video was doing the rounds on the eve of a planned protest march announced by the Indigenous Tribal Leaders' Forum to highlight their plight.

At least 150 people have been killed and several hundred injured since ethnic violence broke out in the state on May 3 when a 'Tribal Solidarity March' was organised in the hill districts to protest against the majority Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe status. 

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