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Manipur sexual violence: Supreme Court directs CBI not to record statements of victims, says will hear matter at 2

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) not to record the statements of victims of sexual violence in Manipur for the time being.

The Bench led by Chief justice of India DY Chandrachud said that it would hear at 2 pm this afternoon the petitions opposing CBI probe and seeking a court-monitored SIT into the incidents of ethnic violence, which have been recurring in the state of Manipur for the past three months.

Appearing for the victims, Advocate Nizam Pasha apprised the Apex Court that CBI was already coming to record the statement of the victims. He requested the Bench to stop the national agency, stating that Solicitor General Tuishar Mehta was present in the court.

The top court of the country then ordered the CBI to wait for some time and said that the Apex Court would take up the matter at 2 pm.

The SG assured the Bench that the orders would be followed. However, he argued that if CBI had not done anything, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal would have accused them of inaction. He further said that recording of statements was done in good faith.

Earlier on Monday, the Bench of Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice J.B. Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra had said that it would hear all petitions related to violence against women in Manipur together.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appeared for the two women belonging to the Kuki-Zomi community of Manipur, who were stripped, paraded naked and allegedly sexually assaulted on May 4.

The women had moved the Apex Court seeking probe by a special investigation team (SIT), led by an independent IG rank police official and transfer of trial outside the state. 

Sibal said the two women have expressed no faith in state police and sought security for them while seeking a direction for recording of their statement under Section 164 CrPC by the nearest area magistrate.

The Senior Advocate contended that the petitioners were challenging the Central government’s decision to transfer the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation, as well as the Union government’s demand to transfer the probe out of Manipur. 

The Apex Court had taken suo motu cognisance of the issue on July 20 and directed both the Union and the state government to apprise it about the steps taken to bring the perpetrators of crime to book. 

The Bench led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud had come down heavily on both the Centre and the state over the video of two women, who were paraded naked in Manipur on May 4. Calling it as ‘deeply disturbing,’ the Apex Court said the visuals showed ‘gross’ constitutional failure by the government, adding that If the government did not act, the Supreme Court would.  

The Union government then filed an affidavit in the Apex Court, stating that it had transferred the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The Centre said that it had taken the step with the consent of Manipur government, considering the gravity of the offence. 

Filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the affidavit urged the Apex Court to transfer the trial out of Manipur to any other state. It further sought direction to complete the trial within six months of filing the charge sheet.

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