SC seeks report from State, CBI, NIA on status of probe

New Delhi, Mar 11
The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Manipur Government, CBI and the NIA to file reports elaborating on the status of probe and the charge sheets filed in cases of ethnic-violence to help it take a decision on whether the trials can commence in Assam or be undertaken in Manipur.
The top Court, meanwhile, made it clear that it cannot issue directions to the State Government and law enforcement agencies to maintain law and order in Manipur in the wake of a spate of violent incidents, armed protests, blocking of the highways.
“These are the matters where this Court cannot give directions. We cannot be issuing directions to the civil society organisations to maintain law and order…The State Government is there to maintain law and order,” said the bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwla and Manoj Misra.
It asked Attorney General R Venkataramani, appearing for the State Government and the probe agencies, to take instructions on a recent report of the Justice Gita Mittal committee on the recent incidents of violence in the State.
The apex Court-appointed three-Judge panel headed by Justice Mittal wanted the top Court to pass some orders following the recent incidents of violence.
The Court asked the counsel, appearing for the panel, to provide a copy of the report to the Attorney General to take instructions on the issue.
The top Court referred to a communication received from a special Judge in Guwahati, to whom the cases of violence in Manipur were transferred, for monitoring the probe.
The trial Judge wanted a clarification about whether he can proceed with the trial in the cases which were transferred from Manipur to Guwahati in pursuance of the top Court’s directions issued on August 25, 2023.
The Assam Court also wanted a direction as to how it should proceed to deal with juvenile offenders.
“The updated status reports will be filed by the Manipur Government, the NIA and the CBI with regard to the investigations. The status report should indicate the charge sheets filed as of now and the stage of investigations in other cases,” the bench said.
“Let us have an idea. We will take a call on whether the trial should take place in Assam or in Manipur,” the CJI said and permitted the Manipur Government also to file a response.
Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Manipur Government, said it wanted the trial to be held in the State as there was a marked improvement in the situation.
“We want to know whether the cases were ripe for the trial or not,” the bench said, adding that a tabulated chart be filed on the status of cases.
The top Court ordered the listing of petitions on Manipur violence after two weeks. The top Court had, on August 25 last year, ordered transfer of several Manipur violence cases being probed by the CBI, including the sexual assault case of two women seen in a viral video being paraded naked, to Assam.
It had asked the Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court to nominate one or more judicial officers to deal with them.
The apex Court had passed a slew of directions on judicial procedures, including virtual examination of victims and witnesses by Courts, saying they have been issued “at the present stage, bearing in mind the overall environment in Manipur and the need for ensuring a fair process of criminal justice administration”.
“Both sides (Kuki and Meiteis) have been hurt …There have been victims in valleys, and in hills. It would be difficult for people who suffered in valleys to travel to hills, and the other way round. We are not on who suffered more, just the practical difficulty,” the CJI had said, adding the top Court will pass orders which will be fair to both sides.
Prior to this, the Central Government had ordered a CBI probe into several cases of ethnic violence in Manipur. PTI