Manipur violence

1. Supreme Court declines contempt action against Manipur officials amid state violence.
2. Justices Trivedi and Mithal find the petitioners’ grounds insufficient for contempt.
3. Petitioners lacked compelling evidence against respondents, including Manipur’s chief secretary.

Imphal, May 25: The Supreme Court reaffirmed its commitment to legal principles over sentiments, declining a petition seeking contempt action against Manipur officials amid recent violence in the state.

A vacation bench, consisting of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal, concluded that the petitioners lacked sufficient grounds for contempt against the respondents, including Manipur’s chief secretary. The court suggested exploring alternative legal remedies.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing Manipur, argued against any contempt, asserting active efforts by both state and central governments to address public concerns. Bhati vowed updated reports on measures to protect displaced persons’ properties.

The petitioners accused respondents of breaching a September 25 Supreme Court order, mandating property protection for those displaced by ethnic conflicts. The bench questioned the validity of contempt claims, focusing on the chief secretary’s role.

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When petitioners’ counsel argued their clients, residing outside Manipur, couldn’t return due to property issues, the bench stated it didn’t warrant notice to the chief secretary.

Bhati referenced the September 25 order, highlighting the state’s compliance with status reports. She assured ongoing commitment to citizens’ property protection amid Manipur’s “uneasy calm.”

Petitioners alleged police presence during property looting, refuted by Bhati and supported by the bench, emphasizing property protection obligations.

The court expressed sympathy but ruled no contempt substantiated. “Your properties need protection, but we needn’t issue contempt notice,” the bench declared. It advised exploring legal channels for grievances.

Manipur’s ethnic violence, sparked by a high court order regarding non-tribal Meitei community inclusion in the Scheduled Tribes (ST) list, resulted in 170+ deaths since May 3 last year.

The ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ triggered the violence opposing Meitei ST status demand.