New ruling in Manorama death case

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By A Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, Sep 5: The prolonged litigation on the competency of the authorities of the state of Manipur to institute inquiry against the armed forces of the Union of India arising out of alleged rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama by the personnel of 17 Assam Rifles on July 11, 2004 has come to an end with a Division Bench of the Guwahati High Court Principal Bench comprising of Justice Amitava Roy and Justice B.D Agarwal announcing their judgment and order on August 31, 2010 which had been reserved after last hearing at length held on May 11, 12 and 13 consecutively at Guwahati.

A statement issued by the Human Rights Law Network (Manipur) has said that the judgment and order passed consequent upon filing of different writ appeals filed by the Assam Rifles authority, state of Manipur and family members of the deceased Thangjam Manorama against judgment and order dated June 23, 2005 passed by Justice D. Biswas, in as much as they were being aggrieved from their respective perspectives, to the ruling that appointing the state of Manipur to hand over the report of the inquiry commission to the Union Government for scrutiny thereof and appropriate action against the concerned personnel of the 17 Assam Rifle, if so indicated therein.

It said that Colin Gonsalves, Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of India who came down from New Delhi for this specific case, assisted by Meihoubam Rakesh, Advocate has pleaded on behalf of the family of deceased Thangjam Manorama. Colin Gonsalves, has persuasively argued with reference to Entry 2 and 2A of the Union list as well as Entry 1 and 2 of the state list of the Constitution of India that having regard to the acts of criminality perpetrated by a phalanx of the Assam Rifles personnel, the same could by no means be comprehended to be as such in the aid of civil power and the State of Manipur was wholly within its power and jurisdiction to appoint the commission to probe into the facts leading to the unfortunate incident involving the deceased.

It said Colin Gonsalves further insisted that as the alleged act of rape and murder of Manorama by the culpable personnel of the Assam Rifles are wholly unrelated to the deployment of any armed force of the Union or the power, jurisdiction, privilege and liabilities of the member thereof, in course of such detailment, but instead are gory instances of individual excesses, the challenge to the lack of the jurisdiction of the State of Manipur to constitute the commission for enquiring into the facts relatable to the incident is obviously misconceived.

While asserting that the proceedings of the commission unerringly establish that Manorama had been raped and shot at from a close range by some personnel of the Assam Rifles acting with prior concert, the counsel urged that the offending acts were palpably illegal and inhuman besides being in defilement of basic human dignity and rights.

After bearing the parties at length, the court has interfered with the earlier impugned judgment and order dated June 23, 2005 passed by the learned single judge. Further, it is held that the impugned notification dated July 12, 2004 thereby appointing a commission of inquiry to ascertain the fact and a circumstances leading to the death of Thangjam Manorama is legel and valid. Thus, the State of Manipur is left at liberty, if so advised, to deal with the provisions of the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952 and other relevant provisions of law pertaining thereto, it said.

The writ appeal on behalf of the family members of the deceased was filed with active initiative of Human Rights Law Network (Manipur). The above mentioned judgment and order is made available to the counsel on August 4, 2010 after applying for certified copy. HRLN believes that present judgment and order, which comes six years after the incident, that was followed by a mass movement, may generate a new hope for justice and reparation to the victims of serious forms of human rights violation in Manipur.

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