“Fostering Confidence: Supreme Court’s Initiative for Thorough Investigation into Manipur Cases”

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manipur violence

Manipur Cases !

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has today proposed the formation of a committee comprising three former High Court justices, which will not only investigate but also address issues related to ethnic violence in conflict-stricken Manipur, in addition to other matters. The committee’s scope will extend beyond just investigating instances of violence.

“Our endeavor is to restore faith in the rule of law. We will create a committee consisting of three former High Court justices at a certain level. This committee will look into matters beyond just investigations, including relief, remedial measures, and more,” stated the Court.

Justice Geeta Mittal, a former chief justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Justice Shalini Joshi, a former justice of the Bombay High Court, and Justice Asha Menon, a former justice of the Delhi High Court, will make up the committee’s three members.

The Court mentioned that former IPS officer Dattatreya Padsalgikar will oversee the CBI investigation, and at least five officers of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) rank, brought in from various states, will be a part of it. These officers will work across the basic framework and administrative structure of the CBI.

The Court stated, “There will be 42 SITs (Special Investigation Teams) to handle cases that have not been transferred to the CBI. The oversight of these SITs should be undertaken by DIG-rank officers from outside Manipur. Each officer will oversee the functioning of six SITs to ensure proper conduct of the investigations.”

The Centre informed the Supreme Court today that district-wise Special Investigation Teams (SITs) will be formed to investigate cases related to violence, addressing the demand of the Court’s Monitoring Committee which had sought this in a petition related to the investigation of cases related to violence in the northeastern states.

Apart from segregating cases for effective investigation, the Director-General of Police of Manipur, Rajiv Singh, was present before the bench headed by Chief Justice Divai Chandrachud to answer questions related to caste-based violence and the steps taken by the administration.

Attorney General R Venkataramani stated, “Without granting permission for any external investigation, SITs should be formed at the district level.”

For cases involving crimes against women with more than 11 First Information Reports (FIRs) or complaints being investigated by the Central Investigation Bureau (CBI), the investigation will be carried out by a Superintendent of Police (SP)-rank officer leading a district-level SIT, which will comprise all women officers. The CBI team handling the probe includes two female officers at the SP level, according to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. The CBI crew is balanced, with officers coming from all throughout the nation. We’ve achieved harmony.

The Attorney General informed the Court that the government is handling the situation very sensitively and has segregated the cases and filed a consolidated affidavit.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising argued that the conflict is ongoing, suggesting a two-pronged approach: investigating and preventing future crimes.

Advocate Nizam Pasha, who had been commended by the Supreme Court last month for his valuable and “neutral” suggestions aimed at reducing the current crisis, argued that there are 16 FIRs against women in crimes and all of them need to be transferred to the CBI for investigation. “They are calling it an SIT, but the selection is done by the state… the allegations are against the state police – from active complicity to the commission of crimes. If it is selected by the state cadre, the apprehensions increase. The selection should be done by the court. For the public prosecutors, they should be officers of other states, not just other law officers,” he said.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan argued that there should be an independent body for the inspection of supply of arms and ammunition.

The Centre argued that not trusting the police in the investigation would not be appropriate.

SG Mehta said, “Not trusting police officers will not be proper. In the proposed committee formed by the Supreme Court, only judicial officers should be included, not civil society groups.”

On August 1, the apex court had stated that the law and order situation in Manipur and constitutional machinery had completely broken down. It had rebuked the state police in its “slow” and “lackadaisical” investigation into incidents of caste violence, especially those targeted against women, and had sought answers from the DGP on August 7.

The Center had asked the court to transfer 11 out of 6,523 FIRs involving violence against women and children to the CBI so that a case could be brought outside of Manipur in place of the two FIRs linked to recordings showing women being paraded nude by a crowd.

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