Will ensure political executive doesn’t turn a blind eye’, SC on Manipur violence

NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it will ensure that the political executive does not turn a blind eye to the law-and-order situation in Manipur, while stressing that it won’t enter into political arena, however asked the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to ensure that constitutional authorities act with restraint and do not make provocative statements.

The apex court also asked the state government to file a fresh status report on measures taken for security and relief and rehabilitation of people affected by violence.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud directed the government authorities to ensure that law and order is maintained. The bench, also comprising Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala, said: “Let the state of Manipur apprise us of what steps have been taken. As a constitutional court we will ensure this…”

Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, representing a party in the matter, submitted that illegal immigrants are coming from Myanmar and they are involved in poppy cultivation and that is how these militant camps are growing there. Mehta, representing the Manipur government, said that illegal immigrants coming from Myanmar is a real issue.

Advocate Nizam Pasha pointed out that the chief minister’s official Twitter handle was publishing provocative tweets. Pasha said the CM is speaking about Kuki foreigners and that “you destroyed Manipur in the name of Christianity, etc… this is from the CM official handle”.

The Chief Justice said the court would not enter into the political arena, and added that there must be restraint on part of the authorities, and asked Mehta to advise the constitutional authorities to act with restraint and not make such statements.

The Chief Justice made it clear that the bench will not allow the court to be dragged into areas which are politics and policy. “We know the remit of the constitutional court,” he said.

Mehta submitted that the state government is alive to the fact. The top court asked the state government to file a fresh status report on the rehabilitation, relief, and security measures for people affected by violence.

During the hearing, the bench said it will not deal with the legal issues arising out of the Manipur High Court’s decision on reservation for majority Meiteis, as the pleas challenging the order were pending in the larger division bench at the high court. The top court said that tribals can move the division bench of the high court with issues connected with the quota issue.

The bench said, “As the Supreme Court of India, we will ensure that the political executive does not turn a blind eye to the situation”. In connection with security apprehensions of Kuki and other tribal communities, the bench ordered that the chief secretary and his security advisor will assess and take steps to ensure peace and tranquillity in the villages cited by tribals.

The state government, in its status report, said: “A total of 318 relief camps have been opened where more than 47,914 people have been given relief. The provision for ration, food, water and medical care & medicines are being arranged by the District Magistrates with Sub-Divisional Magistrates, Executive Magistrates and District level Officers of concerned line Departments by deputing responsible Officers.”

The state said: “Free passage of people from relief/safe locations to airport/native places (ex-state) is taking place and about 3,124 have been helped through flights.”

On May 8, the Supreme Court asked the Centre government to focus on relief camps, rehabilitation of displaced persons, and protection of religious places while hearing a plea by Manipur Tribal Forum seeking a probe by special investigation team (SIT) into the killing of tribals. The top court noted Centre’s submissions that no violence was reported in Manipur in the past two days and the situation is gradually returning to normalcy, and sought an updated status report after a week.

Dinganglung Gangmei, BJP MLA and Chairman of the Hill Area Committee (HAC) of the Manipur Legislative Assembly, moved the apex court against the high court’s March 27 direction for including Meetei/Meitei community as the Scheduled Tribe in the Presidential list.

A separate petition has been filed by Manipur Tribal Forum for a probe by SIT into the killing of tribals. The development comes amid large-scale violence in Manipur, causing death of over 50 people and displacement of thousands others.

The plea by Gangmei contended that the Meeteis/Meiteis are economically, politically, and educationally advanced and dominant and there have been long standing tensions between them and the tribals. — IANS

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