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Supreme Court Upholds Civilian Control Over Armed Forces in Manipur-Violence Case

By Harshvardhan Sharma      12 July, 2023 04:56 PM      0 Comments
Supreme Court Upholds Civilian Control Over Armed Forces in Manipur-Violence Case

NEW DELHI: Refusing to pass directions for deployment of Indian Army and paramilitary forces in particular tribal areas in violence-hit Manipur, the Supreme Court Tuesday said that in the history of the country, the apex court has not given such directions to the Indian Army, which always remained under civilian control as hallmark of democracy.

A bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices P S Narasimha and Manoj Misra rejected a suggestion by senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for Manipur Tribal Forum to direct the Indian Army and paramilitary to take particular steps.

"Frankly, in the history of our nation and in the last 70 years, the Supreme Court has not given directions (to the Indian Army)….One of the great hallmarks of democracy is civilian control over the armed force. Let us not breach that. That is one of the strong points of this nation. We will not issue directions to the Indian Army," the bench said.

The court pointed out maintenance of law and order and the preservation of the security of the state, are essentially matters which fall in the executive domain.

"We would impress upon both the Union of India and Manipur to make sufficient arrangements so as to ensure protection of lives and properties of all inhabitants," the bench said.

In an assurance, the bench said it was monitoring the situation and would pass some calibrated orders providing compensation, and other relief measures.

The court also asked the parties to maintain equilibrium and balance in public statements and avoid participation in any kind of hate speech.

On Monday, the bench sought  suggestions on the latest status report submitted by the Manipur government.

Gonsalves claimed despite assurances, the violence has not stopped, and it could escalate sharply in the months to come, as indicated by the 'beheading of a tribal in July, and also killing of a mentally challenged tribal woman".

He sought a direction for immediate arrest and prosecution of Meitei leader Pramot Singh for alleged open call for genocide.

The bench, however, said, “It is very dangerous for us to say where a particular battalion would be deployed."

"We are of the view it would not be appropriate for the court to exercise its power judicial function to issue specific directions in regard to the deployment of the Army and paramilitary forces which must be left to the state administration and the Union of India to oversee," the bench added.

The court asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Manipur government, to file an action taken report on the suggestions made by counsel of various parties in the matter within one week.



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