Supreme Court took a stern stand against the Central government on Monday and questioned the delay in registering the FIR in the Manipur viral video case.
The incident involved the alleged sexual assault and public humiliation of two women by a mob on May 4, but the FIR was only registered on May 18. The Apex Court, led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dr. Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chadrachud, demanded an explanation from the government as to why it took 14 days to file the zero FIR.
The Court also inquired about the legal aid being provided to the victims and expressed its concern over the heinous nature of the offense against the Manipur women. It emphasized that such incidents could not be justified by comparing them to occurrences elsewhere in the country. The Supreme Court asserted that it did not want the case to be handled by the state police and suggested monitoring the investigation.
During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre and Manipur state, assured the Court that the government had nothing to hide and was willing to let the Supreme Court monitor the case.
Kapil Sibal, appearing for the two victims, opposed the CBI probe and requested the case to be transferred outside Manipur, to which the Centre agreed. The Court pressed for a mechanism to address the broader issue of violence against women and to ensure appropriate measures were taken to handle such cases.
Sibal argued that the police were colluding with the perpetrators and demanded justice for the victims whose father and brother were allegedly killed by the same criminals. He emphasized that the state’s role was to protect its citizens, and the CBI or any other agency should not be relied upon for handling such cases.
Various intervenors also submitted their arguments, urging the Court to take appropriate measures, including Confidence Building Measures and the proper rehabilitation of the traumatized victims.
Lawyer Vrinda Grover highlighted the need to acknowledge targeted sexual violence and questioned the state government’s role in protecting citizens. The CJI acknowledged that crimes against women were prevalent across the country and not limited to Manipur.
The Supreme Court expressed disappointment over the delay in registering FIRs and questioned the actions of the police between May 4 and 18. The Court was deeply concerned about the case’s progress and the need to preserve evidence and gather witnesses.
The Supreme Court also asked the AG/SG for suggestions on the formation of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to address rehabilitation issues and emphasized the importance of rebuilding lives and ensuring faith in the legal and constitutional processes.
The hearing on the Manipur sexual assault video case was scheduled to continue the next day at 2 pm.