Not isolated case, cannot be justified: SC on violence against women in Manipurtext_fields
New Delhi: The Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud, expressed deep concern over the recent violence against women in strife-torn Manipur and emphasized the need for decisive action. The case involved the shocking incident of two women being paraded naked amid communal and sectarian strife, a situation that the Chief Justice termed as "unprecedented."
During the proceedings, the court firmly rejected attempts to justify the heinous act by citing similar crimes occurring elsewhere in the country. Instead, it called for a specific focus on addressing the situation in Manipur.
The women's lawyer, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, highlighted the survivors' need for confidence in the investigation. However, the government's inability to provide data on the number of registered cases against women indicated the gravity of the issue at hand.
The Supreme Court took charge of the case and ordered the Centre and Manipur government to provide detailed information on six crucial points, including the number of cases, zero FIRs, arrests, and the status of legal aid and Section 164 statements recorded so far.
The court was unequivocal in its denouncement of offences against women, terming them "horrendous." It raised concerns about the efficacy of the Manipur police handling the case and suggested the need for a healing touch in the state.
Responding to the Centre's proposal to transfer the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the court raised concerns about the survivors' trauma and requested a high-powered committee of women members from civil society to ensure justice reaches their doorstep.
Chief Justice Chandrachud emphasized that the violence witnessed in Manipur cannot be justified by drawing comparisons to incidents in other parts of the country, making it crucial to find a tailored approach to deal with this specific issue. The bench demanded information from the government regarding arrests made so far and the measures taken for the rehabilitation and aid of those affected by the violence since early May.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, assured the court that the Union of India had no objection to the Supreme Court overseeing the investigation into the Manipur violence, indicating the seriousness of the matter. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, on behalf of the victims, had already filed a petition in connection with the case.
Responding to public outrage and growing concern, the Centre transferred the case related to the two women being paraded naked to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) reaffirmed its "zero tolerance towards any crimes against women" and urged the top court to ensure a time-bound trial by considering transferring it outside Manipur.
As the investigation unfolds, the Supreme Court has called for a comprehensive mechanism to address violence against women in Manipur. The incident has ignited a national debate on ensuring the safety and protection of women in all regions of the country. With seven arrests made so far, the court is actively monitoring the situation and expects accountability for those responsible for the heinous acts.
The victims, referred to as "X" and "Y" in court documents, petitioned the Supreme Court for a fair and impartial inquiry and sought protection of their identities. They also requested the trial's transfer outside Manipur, expressing a lack of faith in the state police.
The Supreme Court's suo motu cognizance of the disturbing video and subsequent actions have sent a strong message about the seriousness of violence against women. The court's demand for comprehensive action not only addresses the immediate case but also aims to establish a mechanism to protect women across the state and ensure complaints are promptly addressed and FIRs lodged.