Manipur Violence: Supreme Court Transfers CBI Cases To Assam, Asks Gauahti High Court Chief Justice To Name Trial Judges

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is probing 17 cases related to ethnic violence in Manipur, including the one related to the naked parade and sexual assault of two tribal women.

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Friday transferred the Manipur violence cases with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to Assam and asked the Gauhati High Court's Chief Justice to nominate judges for the trials. 

The SC bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud also said the accused would be produced in Assam's courts virtually. 

The Supreme Court order comes after the Centre transferred a total of 17 cases to the CBI and asked the SC to transfer the trials out of Manipur. Last month, the Centre informed the SC that it seeks the completion of the trial within six months of the filing of the charge sheet. 

"The central government, therefore, makes a specific request that the entire case, including trial of the offence in question, be ordered to be transferred by this court to any state outside the state of Manipur. The power to transfer the case/trial outside any state is only with this court and, therefore, the central government is making this request to this court to pass such an order with a further direction to conclude the trial within a period of six months from the date of the filing of charge sheet by the CBI," said the Centre in an affidavit to the Supreme Court at the time, as per PTI.

Initially at the time, only the case related to the naked parade and sexual assault of two tribal women by a mob was handed to the CBI but the number subsequently increased to 17 this month. The CBI has deployed a team of 53 officer comprising three Deputy Inspectors General (DIGs).

While the cases will be tried in Assam, the SC said judicial custody of the accused, if and when granted, will be done in Manipur to obviate transit, reported PTI. 

Moreover, the statements of witnesses can be recorded in Manipur and the High Court Chief Justice would appoint magistrates for the purpose.

"Section 164 CrPC statements are permitted to be recorded in presence of local magistrate in Manipur, or as the case may be, where witnesses reside outside Manipur. Acting CJ of Manipur HC shall designate one or more magistrates for this purpose. Test identification parade (TIP) are permitted to take place in presence of local magistrate nominated by Acting CJ," said Chandrachud, as per Live Law.

The SC also permitted persons, including victims, witnesses and others related to CBI cases, to appear physically before the designated Gauhati court if they don't want to appear online, reported PTI, adding that it also directed the Manipur government to provide proper internet services to facilitate hearing in CBI cases through online mode at the Gauhati court.

Manipur has been in the grips of ethnic violence since May 3 when clashes erupted between the state's Meitei and tribal populations. Over 160 have been killed and around 60,000 were earlier reported to have been displaced. Houses, places of worship, government buildings, and political establishments have come under repeated attacks. The violence erupted after a tribal rally against the proposed scheduled tribe (ST) status to the Meitis.