The Supreme Court declined a request to direct the Indian Army and paramilitary forces in Manipur regarding security deployments.
Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud emphasised that civilian control over the armed forces is a fundamental aspect of democracy, and the court will not violate this principle.
Following the court's request for constructive suggestions, parties involved in the matter were asked to present their proposals.
During the proceedings, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, representing tribal groups from Manipur, drew attention to what he believed were one-sided attacks on tribal communities.
Taking exception, the CJI said, “This can’t be the tenor of suggestions. For instance, you are asking the court to direct the Indian Army and paramilitary to take particular steps. Frankly…in the last over 70 years, the Supreme Court has not given directions to the armed forces…. One of the great hallmarks of democracy (is) civilian control over the armed force. Let’s not breach that. We will not do that. We are not going to issue directions to the Army."
In the latest status report filed by the state, the Manipur Chief Secretary's statement regarding the deployment of security forces was referred to by the court.
Both the Centre and the state government were directed by the court to ensure adequate arrangements for the protection of lives and property of all citizens and residents of Manipur.
Expressing concern, the Chief Justice of India stated that it would be risky for the court to determine the exact deployment of a battalion. The CJI emphasised that they were monitoring the situation and would not hesitate to issue calibrated orders if necessary, keeping in mind the scope of judicial review.
During the proceedings, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta objected to some of the submissions made by Gonsalves, which accused the Centre and the state.
The bench intervened and reminded Gonsalves that these were merely allegations, and it would be difficult to make progress if he claimed that certain terrorist organisations were aligned with the state and Centre, as the SG would not accept it.
The court requested Solicitor General Mehta to consider the suggestions put forward by advocate Mohammed Nizam Pasha, who represented the Zomi Students Federation of India.
The court further directed Mehta to take positive action on these suggestions within three days, before Friday, and submit an action taken report within a week.
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