Supreme Court, Manipur, positive suggestions, Centre
"The reliefs which have been sought under Article 32 can well be pursued in appropriate proceedings before the high court under Article 226," the bench said. (Representational image)

SC on Manipur: Apex court cannot be used as platform to escalate tension

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The Supreme Court on Monday (July 10) told the counsels representing the warring Kuki and Meitei ethnic groups from Manipur to avoid using the apex court as a platform that could potentially escalate tension in the northeastern state.

The Bench of CJI DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha, while making it clear that the court cannot run the law and order apparatus of the state to quell the violence, said it can at most direct the authorities to improve the situation. For that, it sought help from different groups and positive suggestions.

“Give us some positive suggestions by Tuesday to make the situation better and we will ask the Centre and the Manipur government to look into it,” the Bench told the different groups as it took on record the status report filed by the state chief secretary on the current situation in the violence-hit state.

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According to Live Law, the Bench was hearing two petitions. One was filed by the Manipur Tribal Forum Delhi seeking the protection of Kukis by the Indian Army. The other was filed by the chairman of the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) of the Manipur Legislative Assembly, Dinganglung Gangmei, challenging the Manipur High Court order to consider the inclusion of Meiteis in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) list.

Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, representing the Manipur Tribal Forum, expressed scepticism regarding the state’s claims, according to Live Law. He pointed out that violence has not abated despite the assurances given by the state during the last hearing. The death figure in mid-May was 10; now it is 110, despite the state’s assurances, he argued.

When Gonsalves submitted that everyone in the state was against the Kukis, the CJI reportedly said the court proceedings should not be used as a platform to escalate violence or exacerbate the existing problems in the state.

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The top court also asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Manipur government, to take instructions on a circular issued in June, by which it had asked state government employees to report to duty or face a pay cut.

On July 3, the top court had directed the Manipur government to file an updated status report detailing the steps taken for rehabilitation, improving the law and order situation, and the recovery of arms in the ethnic violence-hit state.

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 Meitei community’s demand for ST status.

Meiteis, who account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population, live mostly in the Imphal Valley. The tribal Nagas and Kukis constitute another 40 per cent of the population and reside in the hill districts.

(With agency inputs)

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