Probe charges of collusion against Manipur Police, SC tells special monitor team

The SC announced its decision to appoint retired IPS officer, Datta Padsalgikar as the “overall (probe) monitor” on August 7, besides naming a three-member committee of former High Court judges to look into the humanitarian aspects; the detailed order was made public on Thursday, August 10

The Supreme Court,  that has appointed former Maharashtra DGP Dattatray Padsalgikar to oversee the probe by the CBI and state police in Manipur, has asked him to also “investigate the allegations that certain police officers colluded with perpetrators of violence (including sexual violence) during the conflict”.

In its verdict addressing the Manipur violence Dinganglung Gangmei vs Mutum Churamani Meetei & Ors | 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 626 , the Supreme Court expressed its profound dissatisfaction with the sluggish pace of investigation carried out by the Manipur police regarding cases related to ethnic clashes.

The Court underscored that an unexplained delay existed between the occurrence of these crimes in early May 2023 and subsequent steps, such as registering FIRs, recording witness statements, and making arrests—actions which have been infrequent and significantly spaced out.

While the court announced its decision to appoint Padsalgikar as the “overall (probe) monitor” on August 7, besides naming a three-member committee of former High Court judges to look into the humanitarian aspects, the detailed order was made public on Thursday.

This order says that there are serious allegations, including witness statements, indicating that the law-enforcing machinery has been inept in controlling the violence and, in certain situations, colluded with the perpetrators, observed the court. Though serious issues have been raised about the absence of a proper investigation, the SC said that the Court will not enter a finding of fact on these allegations.

However, at the very least, such allegations require an objective fact-finding to be conducted. Those who are responsible for a breach of public duty must equally be brought to account, regardless of their rank, position or post.  All and every officer of the state or other employee of the state who is guilty not only of the dereliction of their constitutional and official duties but of colluding with perpetrators to become offenders themselves, shall and must be held accountable without fail. This is the promise of justice that the Constitution demands from this Court and from all branches of the state,” said the Bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra.

Further, SC asked Padsalgikar and the former judges’ committee to submit a progress report in two months. It said it would then “issue further directions at that stage… for the shifting of the trials outside the State of Manipur, as may be required.

De-constructing the Manipur verdict 

Significantly, the Court’s observations were as follows:

(Page 16 para 15 of the judgement) 

“The investigation process in the State of Manipur has exhibited a languid pace, as evidenced by:

  • Significant time lapses between the occurrence of grave incidents encompassing murder, rape, and arson, and the recording of zero FIRs.
  • Notable delays in forwarding zero FIRs to police stations having jurisdiction over these incidents.
  • Delays in converting zero FIRs into regular FIRs by concerned police stations.
  • Procrastination in recording witness statements.
  • Absence of diligence in recording statements under Section 161 and Section 164 of the CrPC.
  • Sluggishness in making arrests for heinous offenses.
  • Inadequate promptness in facilitating medical examinations for victims.

Moreover, the Court emphasized, “These deficiencies within the investigative process reflect poorly on the State of Manipur,” reaffirming the paramount importance of a swift and equitable justice system, particularly in cases involving physical or sexual offenses.

The Court proceeded to issue the following directions to ensure the integrity of the investigation:

(Page 18-19 of the judgement)

  1. Oversight of the investigation process shall be conducted by the Court. To this end, Shri Dattatray Padsalgikar, former Director General of Police, Maharashtra, has been appointed to supervise the investigation conducted by both the CBI and SITs.
  1. To ensure the thorough investigation of transferred FIRs, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs shall assign five officers from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, and NCT of Delhi, each holding the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police, to aid the CBI. One of these officers must be a woman.
  1. Allegations of police involvement are to be investigated by Dattatray Padsalgikar as well. The Court acknowledged that serious allegations, including witness statements, suggested that law enforcement may have inadequately managed violence and, in certain instances, cooperated with perpetrators. Objective fact-finding is essential, and accountability is paramount for all those failing in their constitutional and official duties.
  1. The State of Manipur proposed the formation of 42 SIT teams, and for effective oversight, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs shall depute one Police Inspector from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and NCT of Delhi, along with at least fourteen officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police, to oversee the respective SITs.
  1. SITs overseeing cases involving sexual offenses and other crimes shall be led by women officers. These SITs will visit relief camps to collect complaints of violence impartially.
  1. To prevent re-traumatization of women, SITs investigating sexual offenses shall adhere to legal safeguards, including the provisions of Section 161(3) of the CrPC.
  1. SIT composition should be balanced and not predominantly consist of members from any single community involved in the Manipur clashes.
  1. While overseeing investigations, Dattatray Padsalgikar will ensure that FIRs are registered under appropriate legal provisions based on the specifics of each case.
  1. The designated officer will also issue appropriate directives during the monitoring process, encompassing providing legal assistance, ensuring time-bound investigations, proper recording of statements, offering legal aid to victims, and maintaining confidentiality and anonymity of victims/survivors during status reports submitted to the Court.

The Supreme Court has expressed profound dismay over the appalling acts of severe sexual violence inflicted upon women amidst sectarian conflicts in Manipur. The Court underscored subjecting women to such heinous crimes is utterly unacceptable and constitutes a serious breach of fundamental constitutional principles, including dignity, personal liberty, and autonomy protected under Part III of the Constitution. Regrettably, mobs often target women for violence, exploiting the possibility of evading punishment when part of a larger group. (Can be read on page number 20 Para 17 of the judgement).

In response, the Court has directed the establishment of a committee comprised of three esteemed former High Court Judges (page 22 para 20 of the judgement) to focus on the rehabilitation and support of survivors. The distinguished members of this committee include:

– Gita Mittal, former Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court

– Justice Asha Menon, former Judge of the Delhi High Court

– Justice Shalini Phansalkar Joshi, former Judge of the Bombay High Court

The committee’s key tasks include:

  1. Investigating the nature of violence against women in Manipur since May 4, 2023, utilizing various sources such as survivor interviews, family members, local representatives, relief camp authorities, filed FIRs, and media reports.
  1. Compiling a comprehensive report detailing essential steps to address survivors’ needs, encompassing strategies to address the aftermath of rape, and providing social, economic, and psychological support, all within a specified timeframe.
  1. Ensuring the provision of dignified conditions in relief camps for displaced individuals, recommending additional camps if needed. (Page 23 of the judgement)
  1. Securing compensation and restitution for victims of violence.
  2. Appointing nodal officers at relief camps and establishing a toll-free helpline to disseminate updates regarding investigations, missing persons, and the recovery of deceased individuals. These officers are also entrusted with maintaining a database of all relief camp residents. (Page 24 of the judgement).

These directives were issued in response to the distressing video from May 4, depicting the reprehensible ordeal of two women in Manipur subjected to public humiliation and sexual violence amid the conflicts. Taking Suo Motu cognizance of the matter on July 20, the Supreme Court demanded accountability from both the Central and State Governments in apprehending the perpetrators and bringing them to justice. The Court vehemently denounced the use of women as instruments to inflict gender-based violence in the context of communal strife, deeming it a flagrant violation of human rights and utterly unacceptable.

Objectionable comments from the Solicitor General of India amidst the Court’s Proceedings

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s recent comment stirred controversy when he claimed that many unclaimed bodies  belong to infiltrators with ulterior motives. However, data from conflict-affected regions paints a different picture.

For instance, in Imphal East, out of 30 bodies, 21 were identified (7 Kuki, 14 Meitei), with 9 remaining unidentified. Compensation was granted to 7 families and 3 women.

In Imphal West, 28 bodies were found, 21 identified (17 Kuki, 4 Meitei), and 7 remained unknown. The government seeks one family.

Thoubal reported 4 identified bodies, all from the Kuki community.

Kakching saw 20 bodies, 15 identified (including 11 Meitei), and 4 unidentified.

Bishnupur recorded 20 bodies, 19 identified (6 Kuki, 13 Meitei), and 2 unidentified.

Churachandpur listed 39 bodies, all identified (35 Kuki, 4 Meitei), while Kangpokpi had 11 identified bodies (5 Kuki, 6 Meitei).

Though the Manipur government’s August 5 update reported 142 deaths, district data raised the count to 152, with 130 identified and 22 unidentified. The Kuki Students’ Organization (KSO) noted 136 Kuki deaths, including 23 women.

SG Mehta’s assertion contradicts KSO’s efforts to verify bodies using Adhaar cards and documents. KSO’s D.J. Haokip questioned how foreigners could hold Indian government jobs and demanded security for body verification.

Compensation remains limited, despite Home Minister Amit Shah’s pledge of Rs 10 lakh per family—Rs 5 lakh from the Centre and Rs 5 lakh from the state. Union government’s share is pending. Please note that this data might vary from current figures, but it aligns with KSO’s list shared with The Wire. Read more –


Significantly, in its order, the SC asked Padsalgikar and the former judges’ committee to submit a progress report in two months. It said it would then “issue further directions at that stage… for the shifting of the trials outside the State of Manipur, as may be required.

Expressing anguish over the “manner in which women have been subjected to grave acts of sexual violence in the course of the sectarian strife”, the court said: “Subjecting women to sexual crimes and violence is completely unacceptable and constitutes a grave violation of the constitutional values of dignity, personal liberty and autonomy, all of which are protected as core fundamental rights under Part III of the Constitution”.

“Mobs commonly resort to violence against women for multiple reasons, including the fact that they may escape punishment for their crimes if they are a member of a larger group. In time of sectarian violence, mobs use sexual violence to send a message of subordination to the community that the victims or survivors hail from. Such visceral violence against women during conflict is nothing but an atrocity. It is the bounden duty of the state — its foremost duty, even — to prevent people from committing such reprehensible violence and to protect those whom the violence targets,” the court said stating that “its intervention will be a step towards the guarantee of non-repetition that victims of such crimes are entitled to”, the Bench said the “victims of violence must receive remedial measures irrespective of their community” and “likewise, the perpetrators of violence must be held accountable, irrespective of the source of violence”.

There is a need to ensure that the violence (in Manipur) ceases, the perpetrators of violence are punished according to the procedure established by law, and that consequently, the faith and confidence of the community in the justice system is restored,” it said.

With reference to the cases transferred to CBI, the court asked the Union Home Ministry “to place at the disposal of the CBI five officers drawn from the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha and NCT of Delhi, at least of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. At least one of these five officers shall be a woman”. It said these officers would “submit periodical information and reports as may be required” by Padsalgikar”.

The court also asked the Home Ministry to depute 14 officers not below the rank of Superintendent of Police, to be in charge of the Manipur Police SITs which are investigating other FIRs.

These SITs, the court said, “will visit each relief camp within the area assigned to it and make it known that it is an impartial body which is accepting complaints of violence (including sexual violence)”. It added that the “SITs constituted by the state… shall not consist exclusively of members belonging to either one of the communities involved in the clashes”.

The panel of former judges will “enquire into the nature of violence against women… from 4 May 2023, from all available sources including personal meetings with survivors, members of the families of survivors, local/ community representatives, authorities in charge of relief camps and the FIRs lodged as well as media reports,” the court said. 


In this verdict, the Supreme Court has, three months and three days after violence broke out, offered some hope to survivors of the violence.

By attempting a meticulously redressal of the intricate web of violence that has cast a shadow over the state, the court paves the way for a brighter tomorrow.

The Aug 7 judgement may be read here:


(The author is an intern with





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