Supreme Court Rejects Plea For Voting Facilities For Displaced People In Manipur Ahead Of LS Polls

Supreme Court bench states that the plea has come very late and as the Lok Sabha polls begin in four days, there is nothing that can be done regarding this issue.

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The Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider a request for voting facilities for approximately 18,000 internally displaced individuals affected by ethnic conflict in Manipur for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The polling for Manipur's two Lok Sabha seats is scheduled to take place in two phases on April 19 and 26.

A panel consisting of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra stated that the intervention of this court, especially at this late stage, would create problems in the organization of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in Manipur.

"You have come at the last minute. At this stage, what can be virtually done? We cannot interfere at this stage," the bench said.

The top court was considering a request from Naulak Khamsuanthang, a resident of Manipur, and others, who sought a directive from the Election Commission of India (ECI) to facilitate internally-displaced individuals living outside Manipur to vote in the Lok Sabha elections.

This would involve establishing special polling stations in the states where they currently reside.

"There are 18,000 internally-displaced people. They want to vote in the elections in Manipur," the lawyer appearing for the petitioners said.

Manipur has been experiencing a series of violent incidents since May 2023, resulting in over 160 fatalities and hundreds of injuries.

The conflict initially arose on May 3 during a 'Tribal Solidarity March' in the hill districts, in response to the majority Meitei community's call for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

While the frequency and severity of violent episodes are gradually decreasing, numerous individuals continue to reside in relief camps, distant from their residences.