PIL in SC seeks independent panel headed by ex-apex court judge to probe incidents of sexual assault in Manipur

A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking constitution of an independent committee under a retired apex court judge to inquire into the incidents of sexual assault and violence in Manipur.

The PIL by advocate Vishal Tiwari says it has been filed against the violation of the rule of law and oppressive brutality, chaos and anarchy being perpetrated in Manipur.

“Recently a video of Manipur got viral showing two ladies who were under capture of mob and were paraded in a disgraceful manner by disrobing them and were subjected to the sexual harassment. This entire incident shocked the nation.

“This matter pertaining to the violence, assault, sexual harassment, rape and riots have been prevailing over months in Manipur yet there has been no action from the Respondent No 1 (Union of India) or Respondent No 2 (Manipur government) in this regard”, it said.

The PIL said the independent expert committee should be asked to submit its report within four weeks and direction be issued for action against state agencies for dereliction of duty and not complying with the 2013 verdict of the apex court in Lalita Kumari case.

In its judgement in the Lalita Kumari case, the apex court has issued a set of guidelines to be followed by police including making it mandatory to register an FIR u/s 154 of the CrPC, if the information discloses the commission of a cognisable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation.

If the information does not disclose a cognisable offence but indicates the necessity for an inquiry, a preliminary inquiry may be conducted to ascertain whether information reveals any cognisable offence, the apex court had said.

Tiwari has also sought court’s direction for a CBI probe into the violence in Manipur.

The PIL said no preventive and corrective measures have been taken in the violence-scarred state where there was “violation of rule of law and Constitution” with no “recourse to justice”.

It said the violence has made the life of the common people miserable. It claimed there was no intervention either by the Centre or the state government to stem the violence.

“Horrific incidents have rushed out wherein several cases of sexual assaults of women have surfaced. A video has surfaced which shows two women forced by a mob to walk naked in the northeast Indian state of Manipur which is a severe violation of a women’s modesty.

“The Manipur Police took to the social media to describe the incident as a case of abduction, gang rape and murder. Such cognizable offence was not dealt as per the criminal law system of the country and was not in consonance with the Supreme Court’s dictum,” the PIL said.

The PIL said in accordance with the 2013 Lalita Kumari case verdict of the apex court, duty has been cast upon the police for registering an FIR when the information of a cognisable offence has been disclosed to it.

On July 20, observing that it was “deeply disturbed” by the video of two women being paraded naked in strife-torn Manipur, the top court had said that using women as instruments for perpetrating violence is “simply unacceptable in a constitutional democracy”.

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Taking cognisance of the video, a bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud had directed the Centre and Manipur government to take immediate remedial, rehabilitative and preventive steps and apprise it of the action taken.

It had said the visuals shown in the media indicated gross constitutional violation and infraction of human rights.

At least 160 people have been killed and several hundred injured since ethnic violence broke out in the state on May 3, when a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the majority Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

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