Cannot Direct Army, Paramilitary Forces: Supreme Court On Manipur

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Hate speech should be curbed in Manipur and all parties should maintain equilibrium, the Supreme Court said today while hearing a clutch of petitions seeking the return of the bodies of victims of violence. The court also said it would not issue any directions to the army or paramilitary forces, which has had a civilian leadership since Independence.
“We request all parties to maintain a sense of equilibrium and not participate in any hate speech,” said Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, who was leading the three-judge bench hearing the petitions. “As a court we have to show a clear balance because we stand away from the contention. Once we enter the frame, we lose our objectivity. We have to stand apart,” he added.

Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, who represents the Kuki community, said, “The learned Solicitor must curb the extreme hate speech. I have never seen this in India. He can stop this because he knows these gentlemen”.

Nearly 150 people have been killed and many more injured in ethnic violence in Manipur since clashes broke out between Kukis and Meitis early in May. The Kukis have claimed that the state government is sponsoring the violence and have sought the court’s intervention to help scale it down.

The violence has been fuelled by hate speech, especially on social media.

The court, which had sought suggestions to bring the situation in the violence-torn state under control, said, “In the last 72 years, we haven’t issued such directions to the Indian army… civilian control over army is greatest hallmark of democracy. We cannot breach that”.

“We are of the view that it will not be appropriate for the court to direct army and paramilitary forces. At the same time, we would impress upon the UOI and state of Manipur to ensure arrangements to protect lives of citizens of Manipur,” Justice Chandrachud said.

The court had said yesterday that while it has extensive powers, it was the elected government’s job to maintain law and order.

“This is a humanitarian crisis and we have an enormous power… We should be conscious of the remit of the Supreme Court. We cannot run the law and order, elected government does,” the court had said.

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