Manipur Govt files status report in SC on recovery of arms in ethnic violence-hit state

The Manipur government on Friday told the Supreme Court that it has filed a status report on the issue of recovery of arms from “all sources” in the ethnic violence-hit state.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told a bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud that the report has been filed on the issue and it is for the judges only.

He informed the bench, also comprising Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, about another short affidavit in the matter.

Mehta told the bench that the affidavit says “whatever issues are being debated here are already been brought to the notice of the (apex court-appointed) committee” and the panel is considering them.

The top court had earlier appointed a judges committee, headed by Justice (retd) Gita Mittal, to oversee relief and rehabilitation of victims of ethnic violence in the state.

Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for the petitioners’ side, told the bench that bodies of two women, who were gang-raped and killed in May in Manipur, have not been given to their families yet.

Mehta said the top court-appointed committee has already taken cognisance of this and has issued directions to the authorities.

The bench posted the matter for hearing on September 25.

The top court had on September 6 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 came after it was submitted before the bench that besides illegal ones, a huge cache of arms and ammunition were stolen from police stations and army depots in the state.

“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 had said, making it clear that he, personally as a judge, was averse to filing any such documents which are not available to litigants.

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Issuing a slew of fresh directions, the bench had directed the Union home secretary to communicate with Justice (retd) Mittal for finalising names of the experts for helping the panel in its functioning.

The panel headed by Justice (retd) 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.

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