The women in the harrowing video from Manipur, which showed them being paraded naked and sexually assaulted, have filed a fresh petition before the Supreme Court.
While hearing a plea regarding the viral video of women being paraded naked in Manipur, the Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud observed that it was not the only instance of sexual violence against women since ethnic violence erupted in the northeastern state over two months ago.
The chief justice also questioned what did police do for 14 days, considering that the “incident came to light on May 4”.
The women who were paraded naked and sexually assaulted in Manipur have approached the Supreme Court with a fresh petition related to the viral video of their ordeal.
The survivors have filed a separate application in connection with the FIR related to the May 4 sexual assault incident, along with their plea for protection of their identity.
The top court has also asked Centre and the state government to give details about the FIRs filed in the matter. It has also sought details on steps taken for investigation and rehabilitation of those displaced in the ethnic clash in the northeastern state.
As part of this request, the court has sought detailed information regarding the total number of FIRs filed in relation to the violent incidents, the specific types of FIRs registered, the count of zero FIRs initiated, and the number of cases that have been transferred to the magistrate’s jurisdiction.
“We need to know the bifurcation of 6000 FIRs, how many zero FIRs, how many forwarded to jurisdictional magistrate, action taken, how many in judicial custody, how many involving sexual violence and position of the legal aid,” the CJI asked.
“This video is not the only incident of assault on women. An affidavit filed by home secretary indicates multiple instances,” said the CJI.
He asked the Attorney General how many FIRs about assault on women have been lodged since May 3, when violence broke out between the Kuki and Meitei communities.
“It should not be only when another video comes to light that we direct registering of first…We have to make sure justice is done to these three women,” the CJI said.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioners, told the court that they do not want a CBI investigation into the incident. They also don’t want the case to be transferred outside the state.
“It is clear that the police are collaborating with those who perpetrated the violence. They took them to the crowd. What confidence do we have in the state which is there to protect citizens?” said Sibal.
“If there’s an element of bias, an independent agency is needed,” he further said.
The Supreme Court called for an evolving broad mechanism to deal with violence against women in the conflict-ridden state.
Last week, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told the Supreme Court that the probe into the case of the two women being paraded naked in Manipur has been transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The CBI has now formally taken over the case and lodged an FIR.
The MHA, in an affidavit filed by its Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, also urged the top court to transfer the trial in the case outside Manipur for its conclusion in a time-bound manner. Seven people have been arrested in the case so far.
The sexual assault of the two women came to light on July 19 after a video of the incident went viral online. Police had registered a case of abduction, gangrape and murder at Nongpok Sekmai police station in Thoubal district and seven people have been arrested in connection with the matter.
The top court took note of the incident on July 20 and said it was “deeply disturbed” by the video and the use of women as instruments for perpetrating violence was “simply unacceptable in a constitutional democracy”.
CJI Chandrachud had directed the Centre and the Manipur government to take immediate remedial, rehabilitative and preventive steps, and apprise the top court of the action taken.