The Supreme Court on Monday said that it would hear all petitions related to crime against women being committed in the ethnic violence-hit state of Manipur together.
The order was passed by the Bench of Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice J.B. Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra after hearing a bunch of petitions related to the violence in Manipur.
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.
Noting that he has redacted the names of the two women, Sibal said he was 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.
Appearing for the Union of India, Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta said the Centre had never requested the transfer of probe to Assam. It only urged the Apex Court to transfer the matter outside Manipur.
Appearing for intervenors, Senior Advocate Indira Jaising apprised the Apex Court that there were many intervention applications. She said these two were not the only women who faced sexual assault. She said there was enough indication to say that several women had been sexually assaulted.
The top court of the country agreed to the fact that this was not an isolated incident, but there were a number of such incidents.
The Bench said after the video came to light, the Apex Court had asked Attorney General (AG) R. Venkataramani and the SG to assist the court.
The Bench stressed on the need to make a mechanism to see the broader issue of violence against women and ensure that all such cases were taken care of.
Jaising said that she did not know whether the women, who were victims of violence, would come out if the CBI started the investigation.
She sought the constitution of a High-Powered Committee comprising women from civil societies, who had experience in dealing with survivors. She further suggested Syeda Hameed, Uma Chakraborty, Roshni Goswami as members of the HPC, stating that they were all rooted to the issue in the community.
The lawyer said these women have been in constant communication and have access to local communities. She urged the top court of the country to let the women make a report and bring it before the Bench.