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Supreme Court Seeks Report On Manipur Arms Recovery From “All Sources”


Chief Secretary said it is unfortunate that the platform of Supreme Court is being “misutilised”

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Manipur government and the law enforcement agencies to file a status report on the recovery of arms from “all sources” in the ethnic violence-hit state.

The top court’s direction assumes significance as submissions have been made in proceedings that besides illegal ones, a huge cache of arms and ammunition were stolen from police stations and army depots in the state.

A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra also took note of the affidavit of the Manipur chief secretary that there was no short supply of basic commodities like food and medicines for people facing economic blockade in the state.

The affidavit said the claim made by the counsel (senior lawyer Meenakshi Arora) for the apex court-appointed judges committee, set up to oversee relief and rehabilitation of victims, were without any factual basis.

The chief secretary said it is unfortunate that the platform of the top court is being “misutilised”.

“The chief secretary of Manipur has filed an affidavit dealing with availability of rations and essential commodities including in Moreh and the alleged outbreak of measles and chicken pox in Moreh.

“The Chief Secretary has furnished steps taken to distribute rations in nine camps. If any further grievance subsists in regard to specific instances, this should be brought to notice of district administration. Any such grievance should be dealt with expeditiously,” the bench said in its order.

The top court reiterated that the compensation, food, medicines and other essential articles be provided to all needy persons irrespective communities.

The top state officer said that there was no outbreak of chicken pox and measles in relief camps as alleged.

On the issue of recovery of arms, it said, “Let a status report be furnished to this court by the government. The report shall be made available only to this court.” “Keeping in mind the sensitivity of the issue, the status report (on recovery of arms) shall be made available only to this court,” the CJI said, making it clear that he personally as a judge was averse to filing any such documents which are not available to litigants.

Issuing a slew of fresh directions, the bench directed the Union home secretary to communicate with Justice Gita Mittal, chairperson of the apex court-appointed three member panel to oversee relief and rehabilitation work in Manipur, for finalising names of the experts for helping the committee in its functioning.

It also directed the state government to nominate an officer with whom the committee can interact for carrying out its work.

On the aspect of appointing experts, the court directed the home secretary to interact directly with the Chair of the Judges’ Committee to finalise the names of experts to carry out the remit of the committee on ground.

It also directed the Manipur government to file a status report giving details about the steps taken to upgrade the state victims compensation scheme to bring it on par with the NALSA (National Legal Services Authority) scheme.

On the reference made by the chief secretary in the affidavit about the lawyers including Arora, who represented the panel, the bench said, “Any reference made to counsel in affidavit shall not be construed as any comment on the counsel. We make it clear that counsel appearing before the court do so as officers of the court and are responsible to this court.” It also directed the state government to submit a status report regarding the setting up of the portal for the committee.

On being told that a large number of bodies are lying in morgues and needed to be disposed of in a dignified manner, the bench said the government will have to take a call so the unclaimed bodies don’t spread diseases.

“The dead bodies cannot be forever in the morgue as it can trigger an outbreak,” the bench said.

On September 1, the top court had asked the Centre and the state government to ensure uninterrupted supply of basic commodities like food and medicines to people facing economic blockade in certain areas of the border state.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and the Manipur government, had said that nodal officers were appointed by the Union of India and the state pursuant to its earlier orders to facilitate the functioning of the court-appointed all-women committee of judges to oversee relief and rehabilitation in the strife-torn state.

The panel headed by Justice (retired) Mittal, a former chief justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, also comprises justices (retd) Shalini P Joshi and Asha Menon.

Manipur plunged into a vortex of violence in May over a high court order directing the state government to consider including the non-tribal Meitei community in the list of Scheduled Tribes.

This order led to rampant ethnic clashes. More than 160 people have been killed and several others injured since ethnic violence first broke out in the state on May 3 when a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in hill districts to protest against the majority Meitei community’s demand for ST status.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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