Thursday, the Supreme Court expressed “deep concern” over the video of two women being paraded nude in Manipur and requested that the State and Central governments inform it of the steps taken to bring the perpetrators to justice.
This occurred one day after the video depicting two women from the Kuki-Zomi community being paraded naked and sexually assaulted by a mob of men was widely distributed. The incident occurred over two months ago in Manipur, a region plagued by violence.
A bench presided over by Chief Justice of India D. Y. Chandrachud conveyed its concerns to Attorney General R. Venkataramani and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, stating that it will give the government time to act and will intervene if nothing occurs on the ground.
The Supreme Court had ordered Venkataramani and Mehta to appear in court at the start of the proceedings.
As soon as the proceedings commenced, the CJI Chandrachud informed them, “We asked you to be present because we are profoundly disturbed by the videos that surfaced yesterday depicting how these two women were paraded in Manipur. As a court, we wish to express our utmost concern about what is occuring.
“I believe it is time for the government to really intervene and take action, as this situation is inexcusable. Using women as a means to inflict gender violence in a region of communal strife is deeply, truly disturbing and simply unacceptable to the court,” the Chief Justice added.
“This is the most egregious of constitutional and human rights violations….We will give the government some time to act. Otherwise, if nothing is happening on the ground, we will take action. We are aware that the video that was posted yesterday is from May, but that makes no difference…. It need not be a video from yesterday. It’s extremely, extremely unsettling.
Since May, what steps have been taken to bring the perpetrators to justice? And second, what measures have been taken to prevent a recurrence? Who knows? It could be isolated, or it could not. There might be a pattern. Throughout history and throughout the world, women have been used as instruments of violence in these situations, and in a constitutional democracy, this is untenable. We will issue a brief directive. This will be addressed in the Manipur matter.”
The bench then proceeded to issue its order.
It stated, “We have commenced proceedings in the above petition by requesting the Attorney General and the Solicitor General to appear at 10:30 a.m.” The court is profoundly disturbed by the videos of sexual assault and violence against a woman in Manipur that have appeared in the media since yesterday. We believe that the court should be informed of the measures taken by the government to hold the perpetrators accountable and to prevent a recurrence of such incidents during the conflict in Manipur.
“The images that have surfaced in the media point to flagrant constitutional violations and human rights violations. In a constitutional democracy, it is inexcusable to use women as instruments of violence in an emotionally fraught environment. We direct both the Federal Government and the State Government to take immediate action and to inform the court of their actions,” it stated.
SG Mehta stated that he shared the Chief Justice’s concern and that the government is also gravely concerned about the incident. Adding that such incidents are “completely unacceptable”