Supreme Court comes down heavily on Manipur government for failing to take undertrial to Court owing to his ethnic Kuki identity

Supreme Court: "Sorry counsel, we do not trust the State (of Manipur). The accused was not taken to hospital because he is from the Kuki community”

Chaos and violence have engulfed the state of Manipur since May 3 of 2023. Frequently, disturbing news of ethnic violence, rape against women, arson and gun violence have emerged from the state, which have led to many question the state and union government in failing to control the declining situation of law and order in Manipur. Another such incident came to the forefront today, where a Kuki undertrial was being targeted by the Manipur government, upon which scathing comments were made by the Supreme Court. On July 3, 2024, LiveLaw had reported that the Supreme Court had expressed shock over ill-treatment of a Kuki undertrial by Manipur government when it was submitted before the court that the said undertrial at the Manipur Central Jail was not taken to hospital for medical examination, only because he belongs to the Kuki community.

As per the live reporting of LiveLaw, a vacation bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and Ujjal Bhuyan took note of the said conduct of the Manipur government, and told the counsel of the state that they do not trust the state of Manipur.

Sorry counsel, we do not trust the State (of Manipur). We do not. The accused was not taken to hospital because he is from the Kuki community? So sad. We direct him to be examined now. If the medical report reveals something serious, we will take you to task! Remember that,” the Court warned.

As per the report, the accused was apparently suffering from piles and tuberculosis. It had also been noted by the court had the undertrial had previously also complained to jail officials about extreme backache. Further, on November 22, 2023, the jail medical officer had found tenderness in the lower lumbar spine of undertrial and recommended an X-Ray. Since the facility was not available in the jail, the undertrial was required to be taken to the hospital for the same. Based on the bail order passed by the High Court, the Supreme Court bench found that the accused was not taken out for medical examination at a hospital “since he was from Kuki community and that shifting him to hospital will be hazardous taking into account law and order situation.”

Another crucial aspect that was noted by the Supreme Court was that the trial on the case against the accused was yet to commence. Taking serious view of the same, the Court passed the following order in which the Bench directed the State to immediately make necessary arrangements to take the accused to Gauhati Medical College in Assam and get the accused examined there.

“We direct the jail superintendent as well as responsible authority of State of Manipur to make necessary arrangements for his transportation to Gauhati Medical College and get him examined therein. The medical exam shall be as regards piles, TB, tonsillitis, abdominal pain as well as problems in lower lumbar spine.”

It further directed the officials concerned to obtain a detailed medical report in this regard and place same before it on or before the Supreme Court on July 15. Notably, the Supreme Court directed for all expenses of the medical examination to be borne by the

All expenses to be borne by the State,” the Court said.

Background of Manipur conflict:

The conflict started in May, 2023, when violence erupted after Kuki-Zo communities protested against the demand for Scheduled Tribe status for the Meitei community. The Meiteis had also been demanding for a National Registry of Citizens in the state. The two ethnic groups form the majority of the population of the state, with Meiteis constituting 51 % of the population. Meiteis are noted to have a larger share in the state’s legislative assembly and are considered to wield more political influence in the state, according to The Wire. Interestingly, January witnessed the state government forming an all-tribe panel to decide the fate of the ST status for the Kuki population.

Today the state seems to have transformed into a militarised zone, from what it seems and reportedly stands divided. There are ethnically divided area-wise checkpoints by the police and also with militants standing guard and barring entry, restricting entry from the hill to the valley areas.



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