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Manipur violence: Supreme Court stays arrest of transgender activist, directs State Police not to file fresh case

The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the arrest of a transgender rights activist, who was issued summons over social media posts made by her in connection with the alleged misappropriation of the transgender persons’ welfare fund by the social welfare department.

The Bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice Dipankar Datta further directed the Manipur police not to register any fresh case against transgender woman Santha Khurai based on such posts.

The interim order was passed on a writ petition filed by Khurai, seeking protection from the actions of Manipur police and quashing of police summons issued to her.

The Apex Court also issued notice on her plea, which contended that police actions were in contravention of the law, specifically Section 160 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which prevented police officers from summoning women or children to attend any place other than their residence.

The case pertained to certain social media posts made by the petitioner on September 1, 2023, alleging mismanagement of transgender welfare funds and programmes in the State of Manipur. 

The petitioner alleged that a team of male police officers visited her parents’ home on the morning of September 3, 2023, seeking her whereabouts.

She submitted that transgender women were entitled to the same protections under Section 160 of the CrPC, in light of the judgments of the Supreme Court in NALSA vs Union of India. 

As per the plea, the NALSA judgment recognised the transgender rights, gender identity and the importance of protecting transgender individuals from discrimination.

The petitioner said directing her to appear before a police station placed her at risk of violence, gravely violating her rights to bodily autonomy and safety.

She invoked the 1978 Supreme Court decision in Nandini Satpathy vs P.L. Dani (1978) 2 SCC 424, which emphasised the importance of police officers adhering to the law and not ignoring safeguards in place to protect women and children.

Senior Advocate Anand Grover, along with PLR Chambers and Co appeared for the petitioner.

(Case title: Thangjam Santa Singh @ Santa Khurai vs State of Manipur) 

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