Supreme Court Declines Contempt Petition in Manipur Displacement Case

Northeast Desk, 25th May: The Supreme Court, on May 24, reaffirmed its commitment to legal principles over sentiments, rejecting a petition seeking contempt action against Manipur officials accused of failing to protect properties of those displaced during recent violence in the state.

A vacation bench comprising Justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal concluded that the petitioners had not presented a compelling case for contempt against the respondents, including Manipur’s chief secretary. The court suggested that the petitioners explore other legal remedies available to them.

Representing Manipur, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati argued against the contempt claims, stating that both state and central governments were actively addressing public concerns. Bhati emphasized the government’s commitment to protecting displaced persons’ properties and pledged to file an updated status report on the measures taken.

The petitioners alleged violations of a Supreme Court order from September 25, which mandated property protection for those displaced by ethnic conflicts. However, the bench questioned the validity of the contempt claims, particularly regarding the role of the chief secretary.

Bhati cited compliance with the September 25 order, noting the state’s submission of a status report and readiness to provide updates. She reassured the court of the government’s ongoing commitment amid the “uneasy calm” in Manipur.

Despite the petitioners’ claims of property looting in the presence of police, Bhati dismissed them as unfounded, a stance supported by the bench. The court reiterated authorities’ obligation to protect properties and uphold court orders.

While sympathetic to the petitioners’ plight, the court maintained that no contempt case was substantiated. It encouraged the petitioners to pursue appropriate legal channels for grievances against the respondents.

The ethnic violence in Manipur, sparked by a high court order considering the inclusion of the non-tribal Meitei community in the list of Scheduled Tribes, has claimed over 170 lives and resulted in numerous injuries since erupting on May 3 last year.

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