The Manipur government on Friday told the Supreme Court it has filed a status report on recovery of arms from "all sources" in the ethnic violence-hit state.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and Manipur government, told a bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud the status report is for the "consumption" of judges only.
On the issue raised before it that the CBI should be asked to give updates of the probe being conducted by the agency in 11 FIRs transferred to it in cases involving sexual violence against women and children in the state, the bench said it has already appointed "seasoned" IPS officer Dattatray Padsalgikar to supervise the investigation of criminal cases.
"Allow a little bit of time to the officer to take charge, monitor the situation and then we may ask for a status report," said the bench, also comprising Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra.
The CJI said Padsalgikar, a former Director General of Police of Maharashtra, himself went to Manipur to oversee the process. He is one of the most highly respected officers from Maharashtra, Chandrachud said.
In its August 7 order passed on a batch of pleas, including those seeking court-monitored probe into the cases of violence, besides measures for relief and rehabilitation, the apex court had appointed Padsalgikar to supervise the CBI investigation into the FIRs transferred to it as also the cases being handled by the state police agencies.
During the hearing on Friday, Mehta said he has placed before the court a report on recovery of weapons.
"That is for your lordships' consumption," he said.
The solicitor general informed the bench about a short affidavit in the matter.
"I have a short affidavit also which says that whatever issues are being debated here are already being brought to the notice of the (apex court-appointed) committee…," he said, adding the panel is seized of the matter.
The top court had earlier appointed a three-member committee of retired high court judges headed by Justice (retd) Gita Mittal, to oversee relief and rehabilitation of the victims of ethnic violence in the state.
The all-woman panel headed by Justice (retd) Mittal, a former chief justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, also comprises justices (retd) Shalini P Joshi and Asha Menon.
Mehta said the matter can be kept for September 25 so the court can go through the status report as well as the affidavit.
"Last time we had said that the status report on recovery of arms shall be shared with the court," the bench said, adding the affidavit can be shared with the petitioners but not the status report.
Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for the petitioners' side, raised the issue of return of the bodies of two women who were gang-raped and killed on May 4 to their families.
"We have written to the nodal officers, we have written to the committee. From May till end of September now, the bodies have not been returned," she argued.
Mehta said the committee has already taken cognisance of it and issued some directions to the authorities which are being implemented.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, also representing the petitioners, said the CBI has not filed any update on the investigation being conducted by it.
She said the court-appointed committee has been sending updates but there is no update on CBI's investigation so far.
"Your lordships have been pleased to appoint an officer who is supervising it," Mehta said, referring to Padsalgikar.
"I am not complaining anything about the officer. All I am saying is a status report should be given to this court," Jaising said.
One of the advocates referred to a report filed by the court-appointed committee, saying it has made certain recommendations.
"The operative part of the report says that it is seeking directions from your lordships to accept the recommendations and thereafter pass appropriate orders," he said.
The bench said it will take up the matter on September 25 and issue directions on the committee's report as well as the affidavit filed by the Manipur government.
The top court had on September 6 asked the Manipur government and the law enforcement agencies to file a status report on the recovery of arms from "all sources".
The top court's direction came after it was told huge cache of arms and ammunition were looted from police armouries, and innumerable illegal weapons were being used by rival groups involved in ethnic clashes.
"Keeping in mind the sensitivity of the issue, the status report (on recovery of arms) shall be made available only to this court," the CJI had said, adding he, personally as a judge, was against filing of documents that were available only to the court and not the litigants.
Manipur plunged into a vortex of violence in May over a high court order directing the state government to consider including the non-tribal Meitei community in the list of Scheduled Tribes.
This order led to rampant ethnic clashes. More than 160 people have been killed and several hundred others injured since ethnic violence first broke out in the state on May 3 when a 'Tribal Solidarity March' was organised in hill districts to protest against the majority Meitei community's demand for ST status.