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Manipur sexual violence: Supreme Court orders transfer of cases being probed by CBI to Assam, victims permitted to give evidence virtually

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In order to ensure a fair process of criminal justice administration, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered transfer of all cases related to sexual violence, which took place during the ethnic clashes in Manipur and were being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), to Assam.

The order was passed by the Bench of Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice J.B. Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra, taking in view the overall environment in Manipur, along with the assurance made by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta of proper internet connectivity.

Appearing for the State of Manipur, the Solicitor General contended that there could be some concerns about the judges in Manipur belonging to particular communities, besides security concerns regarding the transfer of the accused. 

Suggesting that the trials be transferred to a designated court in the neighbouring state of Assam, the SG said that the directions were sought only for the cases being probed by CBI. He pointed out that the other cases being investigated by the Special Investigation Teams would remain in Manipur only.

The Apex Court directed the Chief Justice of the High Court of Gauhati to nominate one or more officers of the rank of Chief Judicial Magistrate/Sessions Judge in Guwahati, preferably those who were conversant in one or more languages of Manipur, for the trial.

Keeping in mind the security and distance issues, the Bench permitted the High Court to accept online submission of applications for the production of accused, remand, judicial custody, extension of custody and other proceedings. Besides, applications such as arrest and warrant were also permitted to be made through the online mode.

It said the judicial custody of the accused, when granted, was permitted in the State of Manipur to obviate transit.

As per the order, the statements of witnesses under Section 164 CrPc were permitted to be recorded in the presence of a local Magistrate in Manipur, or as the case may be, the place where the witnesses resided outside Manipur. The Acting Chief Justice of Manipur was ordered to designate Magistrates for these purposes.

The top court of the country allowed test identification parades to take place in the presence of a Manipur-based Magistrate.

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