Supreme Court Dismisses Contempt Petition in Manipur Violence Case, Stresses Legal Procedure Over Sentiment

The Supreme Court of India emphasized the importance of adhering to legal procedures over sentiments as it declined a petition seeking contempt action for alleged non-compliance with its earlier order regarding the protection of properties belonging to those displaced during the violence in Manipur.

During a hearing on Friday, a vacation bench consisting of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal concluded that the allegations did not constitute a case of contempt against the respondents, which included the Chief Secretary of Manipur. The petitioners were advised to seek other legal remedies that may be available under the law.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing Manipur, argued before the bench that the state government and the central authorities were actively engaged on the ground to address public concerns and maintain order. Bhati criticized the ongoing efforts by certain parties to “keep the pot boiling,” describing these actions as regrettable.

The bench inquired directly about the specifics of the alleged contempt, particularly questioning the involvement of the Chief Secretary and other officials, who were not deemed to be the direct encroachers of the properties in question. Despite arguments from the petitioners’ counsel about the vulnerability of their properties and the ineffectiveness of local law enforcement, the court maintained that this did not justify issuing a contempt notice against high-level officials.

Bhati referred to the court’s order from September 25 of the previous year, which provided the state and central government a week to respond to directives aimed at safeguarding the properties of displaced persons and preventing encroachment. She confirmed the state’s commitment to protecting its citizens and their properties and offered to submit an updated status report.

The discussion also touched upon the current uneasy calm in Manipur, with Bhati noting that both state and central governments were striving to balance conflicting interests and ensure peace.

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As the petitioners’ lawyer attempted to highlight the broader implications of the court’s decision, the bench firmly reiterated its duty to follow the law strictly, not swayed by public sentiment or external pressures.

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