SC comes to rescue of 284 displaced students of strife-torn Manipur

The Supreme Court Monday came to the rescue of 284 students from ethnic violence-hit Manipur by giving them the option of attending classes online at Manipur university or getting relocated to Assam University in Silchar or the North East Hill University in Shillong.

The top court was hearing a plea filed by the Manipur University EIMI Welfare Society on behalf of the 284 students, who are currently residing in various places across the country, seeking relocation to other central universities so they don’t lose out on education due to the violence in the state.

“We can give them three options. The first one is the online classes at the Manipur University and second that they can be admitted to the Assam University at Silchar and the third, they can study at the North East Hill University at Shillong,” a bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said.

The bench directed that the name of a nodal officer, appointed by the Manipur University, be posted on its website. The officer will have to ensure relocation of desirous students within two weeks of applying, it said.

The top court also assured the students that the issue will be taken up by the committee of three former women high court judges headed by Justice Gita Mittal for which appropriate orders will be passed.

“At this stage we are creating these three options and we are asking the Justice Gita Mittal committee to explore a better option. She (Justice Mittal) will submit a report. We will pass an order in terms of the report,” the bench said.

The petitioners had sought the apex court’s direction for allowing them to pursue their studies at other central universities in the country.

“Any students who desire the benefits of online classes can do so. The respondents further state that the students may opt for any of these two universities which are central universities- Assam University and North Eastern Hill University,” the bench said in its order.

“Any student desirous of admission in any of these two universities will be at liberty to approach the nodal officer who shall take necessary steps to facilitate the admission and relocation in two weeks,” the bench said.

It also directed the Manipur University to ensure that the exercise of relocation does not impede the students from receiving their degree.

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Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and the Manipur University, said this should be an interim order and not mean that the students have permanently moved to other central universities.

The bench had on November 28 issued notices to the Centre and the Manipur government asking them to address the grievance of the 284 Manipur University students seeking relocation to other central universities.

Manipur descended into chaos and untrammelled 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.

More than 170 people have been killed and several hundred 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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