New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday asked the Manipur government and the law enforcement agencies to file a status report on the recovery of arms made from ‘all sources’ in the ethnic-violence hit state.
A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra also took note of the affidavit of the Manipur chief secretary that there was no short supply of basic commodities like food and medicines for people facing economic blockade.
The top state officer said there was no outbreak of chicken pox and measles in relief camps as alleged by lawyers representing petitioners.
“The chief secretary of Manipur has filed an affidavit dealing with availability of rations and essential commodities, including in Moreh, and the alleged outbreak of measles and chickenpox in Moreh.
“The chief secretary has furnished steps taken to distribute rations in nine camps. If any further grievance subsists in regard to specific instances, this should be brought to notice of district administration. Any such grievance should be dealt with expeditiously,” the bench said.
On the issue of recovery of arms, it said, “Let a status report be furnished to this court by the government. The report shall be made available only to this court.”
Issuing a slew of fresh directions, the bench directed the Union home secretary to communicate with Justice (retd) Gita Mittal, the chairperson of the apex court-appointed three-member panel to oversee relief and rehabilitation work in Manipur, for finalising names of the experts for helping the committee in its functioning.
It also directed the state government to nominate an officer with whom the committee can interact to carry out its work.
It also directed the Manipur government to file a status report giving details about the steps taken to upgrade the state victims compensation scheme to bring it at par with the NALSA (National Legal Services Authority) scheme.
On the reference made by the chief secretary in the affidavit about the lawyers appearing in the case, the bench said, “Any reference made to counsel in affidavit shall not be construed as any comment on the counsel. We make it clear that counsel appearing before the court do so as officers of the court and are responsible to this court.”
It also directed the state government to submit a status report regarding the setting up of the portal for the committee.
On being told that a large number of bodies are lying in morgues and needed to be disposed of in a dignified manner, the bench said the government will have to take a call so the unclaimed bodies don’t spread diseases.
“The bodies cannot be forever in the morgue as it can trigger an outbreak,” the bench said.
September 1, the top court had asked the Centre and the state government to ensure uninterrupted supply of basic commodities like food and medicines to people facing economic blockade in certain areas of the border state.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and the Manipur government, had said nodal officers were appointed by the Union of India and the state pursuant to its earlier orders to facilitate the functioning of the court-appointed all-women committee of judges to oversee relief and rehabilitation in the strife-torn state.
The panel headed by Justice (retired) Mittal, a former chief justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, also comprises Justices (retd) Shalini P Joshi and Asha Menon.
Manipur plunged into a vortex of 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.
This order led to rampant ethnic clashes. More than 160 people have been killed and several hundred injured since ethnic violence first broke out in the state May 3 when a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in hill districts to protest against the majority Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe status.