Supreme Court on Monday observed the Manipur High Court had no business asking the state government to consider adding Meitei’s to the Scheduled Tribes list. This prerogative remained with the President of India, the top court said.
You never told the high court that it doesn’t have the power to make such a suggestion, the top court told the organization that had filed the original plea seeking reservation in the high court.
The top court told senior advocate Sanjay Hegde–who was representing the organization—the petitioner was duty-bound to remind the high court about several Supreme Court judgments which had settled the issue and underlined that only the president has the power for recommendation.
The top court’s observation is pertinent considering the high court’s order on the reservation of the Metei community is widely believed to be the catalyst for the violence that has swept across the state resulting in the deaths of at least 54.
On April 28, a mob vandalized and set on fire the venue where Manipur CM N Biren Singh’s public event was scheduled. On May 3, the All Tribal Students Union Manipur (ATSUM) organized a rally to protest against the Meitei reservation. A counter-rally organised by the Meitei in Kuki-dominated Churchandpur seems to be the immediate trigger for the violence.
“Our immediate target is the protection, rescue, and rehabilitation of the people,” Supreme Court said while asking the Centre and the State to submit status reports on the situation and action taken. While seeking details of the relief camps in the riot-torn region, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud asked, “What about the displaced persons? They must be brought back to their homes. Religious places must also be protected”.
Relief camps must be provided with food and medicines, the court said. the top court further directed the Centre to take steps to protect places of worship.
The top court was hearing a batch of pleas that not only challenged the high court’s March 27 order, but also sought protection, rehabilitation, and rescue of people from the riot-hit region.
BOOM recaps the submissions made in the Supreme Court.
Normalcy returning to Manipur: Centre to SC
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said normalcy was limping back in Manipur. No violence has been reported in the past two days, he added. Mehta further told the top court that 52 companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), and 105 columns of Assam Rifles have been deployed to the north-eastern state to curb the violence.
Flag marches have been conducted in disturbed areas; an ex-IPS officer has been appointed as an advisor to the state; a senior IAS officer has been repatriated to the state as Chief Secretary and peace meetings have been conducted even as constant vigil is being maintained, Mehta told the top court as he listed the measures taken so far.
“On ground, army, paramilitary forces, and other government authorities are working (in tandem). Let everything calm down,” Mehta said asking the court for time.
Deeply concerned about the loss of life, property: SC on Manipur Violence
Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud expressed the Supreme Court’s deep concern for the loss of life and property during the Manipur violence. Seeking a status report by May 17, the top court said, “This is a humanitarian issue.”
“The government is taking action. We have no doubt that they're doing it because the SG has said so. You may flag your concerns in an appropriate manner so that these proceedings don’t become another ground for destabilisation,” the top judge told senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, who was representing the Manipur Tribal Forum Delhi.
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