Manipur violence: SC asks Centre, state to ensure safety of citizens

The Supreme Court Tuesday asked the Centre and the Manipur government to take steps to ensure the safety of the citizens in the ethnic violence-riven state besides ordering disbursement of funds for reconstruction of villages and places of worship.

The top court also took note of the submissions about objectionable public utterances by some groups and individuals.

“We request all parties to maintain equilibrium in their speeches and steer clear of any sort of hate speech,” the court said.

Observing that law and order fell within the executive domain, a bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud said it cannot direct as to where the Army and the central armed police forces have to be deployed.

The bench, also comprising justices P S Narasimha and Manoj Misra, however, ordered sufficient arrangements to be made to ensure the protection of the citizens and private and public property in the state.

“We are of the view that it will not be appropriate for this court in exercise of judicial function to direct the Army and paramilitary forces to be deployed at certain places. However, we impress upon the state and the Union (of India) to ensure there is protection of life and liberty of people in Manipur,” the bench said.

The bench said it will be “very dangerous” for the court to say as to where the Army be deployed. Moreover, there is executive and civilian control over the Army since independence, it said.

The court said the state administration will take a considered view on disbursement of funds for reconstruction of villages and places of worship which have been damaged in recent violence.

The bench was considering the suggestions given by the lawyers for various petitioners who have moved the top court for directions to deal with ethnic violence in the state.

It took note of the submission that committees have been formed in seven districts to oversee the functioning of relief camps and ensure proper facilities. It also took note that these panels do not include even a single MLA belonging to the minority Kuki tribe.

It would be desirable that steps be taken to build public confidence and there should be representation of communities in such committees, the bench said.

The bench asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and the state government, to file an action taken report (ATR) within a week on the suggestions put forth by some lawyers to deal with the problems being faced by the citizens in the state due to violence.

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The top court had, while hearing a batch of petitions on Monday on the ethnic conflict in the state, said it was not a platform to be used for escalating tensions and asked the lawyers for the warring groups to exercise restraint during the court proceedings.

It was hearing petitions filed by different NGOs, including the one by ‘Manipur Tribal Forum’, which has sought Army protection for the Kuki tribe, Dinganglung Gangmei, the chairman of the Hills Area Committee of the Manipur Legislative Assembly, who has challenged the high court’s order on designating the Meitei community as a Scheduled Tribe, the high court bar association and others.

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