Manipur violence
The viral video of the May 4 incident renewed the national attention on Manipur, where violence broke out nearly three months ago, killing over 160 people since then, and injuring hundreds. File photo: PTI

Manipur incident 'horrendous'; don't want state police to handle it: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Monday termed as horrendous the video of two women being paraded naked in Manipur and sought information about steps taken so far in the FIRs lodged, saying now it will not want the state police to probe the matter as they virtually handed over the women to the rioting mob.

The top court said it may constitute an SIT or a committee comprising former judges to monitor the situation in the strife-torn state subject to hearing the law officers representing the Centre and Manipur on Tuesday.

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Questions delay in FIR

The bench, which listed a clutch of pleas on Manipur violence for hearing on Tuesday, said though the incident of stripping and parading these women came to light on May 4 why the Manipur police took 14 days to register an FIR on May 18.

“What was police doing? Why was an FIR in video case transferred to magisterial court on June 24, that is after one month and three days,” asked the bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra. “This is horrendous. There are media reports that these women were handed over to mob by the police. We also do not want the police to handle it,” the bench said.

When Attorney General R Venkataramani sought time for responding to the queries, the bench said it was running out of time and there was a great need for giving a healing touch to the state, for those who lost everything including their loved ones and their homes. “We would also want to know the package for rehabilitation being provided to the state for affected people,” it said.

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Seeks details of zero FIRs

The bench asked the state government to provide the details about the number of zero FIRs registered in the state torn by ethnic violence and the arrests made so far. A zero FIR can be filed in any police station regardless of whether the offence was committed within its jurisdiction.

Earlier in the day, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and the state government, told the bench that the Union of India has no objection if the apex court decides to monitor the investigation in the cases of violence.

The top court called for evolving a broad mechanism to deal with violence against women and asked how many FIRs have been registered in such incidents in the state since May.

At the outset, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the two women who were seen in the May 4 video being paraded naked, said they have filed a petition in the apex court.

‘Deeply disturbed by video’

The Supreme Court had on July 20 said it was “deeply disturbed” by the video and that using women as instruments for perpetrating violence is “simply unacceptable in a constitutional democracy”.

Taking cognisance of the video, a bench headed by the chief justice had directed the Centre and the Manipur government to initiate immediate remedial, rehabilitative and preventive steps and apprise it of the action taken.

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On July 27, the Centre informed the top court it has transferred the probe into the case involving the two women to the CBI and asserted the government has “zero tolerance towards 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 of the case outside Manipur for its conclusion in a time-bound manner. Seven people have been arrested in the case so far.

Scores of 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.

(With agency inputs)

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