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Supreme Court finds Manipur viral video incident of 'Unprecedented magnitude', sidesteps violent incidents in WB, other States

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      01 August, 2023 06:45 PM      0 Comments
SC finds Manipur viral video incident of ‘Unprecedented magnitude'; sidesteps violent incidents in WB, other States

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Monday described the May 3 Manipur incident of sexual assault and naked parading of two women in strife-torn Manipur as of "unprecedented magnitude" but sidestepped a request to take cognisance of similar incidents of violent acts in other States of West Bengal, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

The top court said crimes against women are taking place across the country and that is part of the social reality, however, what has happening in Manipur cannot be excused.

"We are dealing with something of unprecedented magnitude, namely perpetration of violence against women in a situation of communal or sectarian strife of the nature which taken place in Manipur," a bench headed by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud said.

Making a bold move, advocate Bansuri Swaraj cited incidents of violence against women in West Bengal and other States.

The bench, also comprising Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, said there is no gainsay in the fact that are crimes which are taking place against women possibly in West Bengal as well.

Swaraj said that incidents of violence against women which emerged in West Bengal and Chhattisgarh, and they were similar to Manipur.

“We are dealing with Manipur right, we will hear you later," the bench told her.

Swaraj insisted that whatever mechanism the Supreme Court develops, the daughters of pan India should be protected.

"We are grateful to the court for taking cognisance of what happened in Manipur,” she said.

The bench said, “the only answer is this, you cannot excuse what is taking place in one part of the country like in Manipur on the ground that this is now….and several other crimes against women as well. The question is how do we deal with Manipur, assist the court on that or something on laying down the framework of investigation”.

The counsel said in July, a mob of 40-50 men disrobed a panchayat poll candidate and molested her and also paraded her nude in a village in West Bengal and mentioned about another incident identical to Manipur and pressed that no FIR has been registered.

Swaraj said in the case of West Bengal it is equally grave as violence against women is being used to punish the electorate.

She claimed there are over 9,000 FIRs in West Bengal and only 3 % people are incarcerated and 97 % of perpetrators are roaming free.

“Kindly protect all daughters of India and do not limit that mechanism only to Manipur,” she pleaded.

Swaraj contended that two women in Bikaner were raped and the perpetrators of gang rape are police officers.

The bench, however, told her, “You are saying do something for daughters of India or do not do anything for anybody at all?”.

Swaraj, for her part, said that her request was to do for all daughters of India.

The counsel appeared for WB-based NGO, S S Human Rights Foundation and Delhi-based NGO Sangini Saheli, which filed intervention applications in the ongoing matter.

On Monday, the court sought to know from Attorney General R Venkatramani and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta as to why there was a delay of 14 days in lodging the FIR.

The bench, however, acknowledged, "We are dealing with systemic acts of violence which are being perpetrated in the course of communal or sectarian strife”.

Seeking information on breakdown of the cases lodged, the bench asked when there are 6000 FIRs, what is bifurcation of these FIRs – how many of these involve crimes against women, how many involve serious offences such as murder, rioting, arson, out of these how many were recorded as zero FIRs etc.

The court asked the Centre and the Manipur government come back on Tuesday with information break-up of cases; the number of zero FIRs; how many forwarded to jurisdiction police station; action taken so far in these FIRs; and status of legal aid provided to victims of assault.

"Is this the only stand-alone incident where there is perpetration of violence on women, or how many such FIRs are there," the bench asked.

The court is scheduled to hear the matter again on August 1, 2023.

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