Guwahati High Court serves notices to accused in Manorama rape and murder case

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IMPHAL, Jan 10: A double bench of Guwahati High Court comprising of Chief Justice Madan Bhimarao Lokur and Justice Ashok Potsangbam has today issued a notice of motion regarding the case of Thangjam Manorama who was allegedly raped and murdered by the personnel of 17th Assam Rifles on July 10, 2004.
The notice of motion has been served to eight respondents today after Manorama’s mother Thangjam Khumanleima filed a writ petition to the Guwahati High Court on December 22, 2010 urging the concerned authorities to take up necessary actions into the alleged rape and murder case as per the ruling of the High Court made on August 31, 2010.
The respondents of this notice of motion are the Union of India to be represented by Defence Secretary, IG AR (South), Commanding Officer of 17th Assam Rifles, State of Manipur to be represented by Chief Secretary, Commissioner/Secretary (Home) of Manipur, DGP Manipur, SP Imphal East and OC Irilbung Police Station. As per the directive of the High Court, the respondents should give reply to the competent court within four weeks.
It may be recalled that Manorama was killed near Ngariyan Maring Village on July 10, 2004 after the personnel of 17th Assam Rifles whisked her away from home by giving arrest warrant to her family members on charges of having link with underground outfits.
A public uproar erupted in the whole state just after her death demanding the state government to punish the culprits. There was even a naked protest of women in front of the Western Kangla Gate.
The state government then set up an inquiry commission under the chairmanship of retired district and session judge C. Upendra. The reports of the Inquiry Commission were submitted to the state government on November 22, 2004.
However, the Assam Rifles filed a case to the Guwahati High Court terming the inquiry conducted by the state government upon the armed forces as illegitimate. The state government as well as the victim’s family had also filed cases to the High Court.
The ruling of the Guwahati High Court made on June 23, 2005 said that the state government is not competent to conduct inquiry over the armed forces, but the reports of the Inquiry Commission should be submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Union Home Secretary should examine the report and subsequently take up actions against any personnel of Assam Rifles if found guilty.
The ruling of the High Court was not welcomed by any party including Assam Rifles, state government and victim’s family. They further filed appeals to the Guwahati High Court regarding the case.
A ruling of the principal bench of the Guwahati High Court made on August 31, 2010 clearly said that the state government is competent to conduct inquiry over the armed forces and the Inquiry Commission set up by the state government to probe the killing of Thangjam Manorama is legitimate. Hence, the state authority can take up actions against the accused army personnel.
Despite of such ruling of the High Court, the state government has not taken up any action in connection with the case. The writ petition filed by Manorama’s family mentioned that the report of the Inquiry Commission should be discussed within a fixed time, action taken report of the case should be made available to the victim’s family, the accused army personnel should be punished, compensation of Rs 10 lakhs should be given to the victim’s family, the case should be handed over to the CBI, the competent court may kindly monitor the progress of investigation of the case and a fact finding inquiry should be initiated by a district judge.
The family members of Thangjam Manorama have filed cases to Guwahati High Court under the initiative of Human Rights Law Network, Manipur and its director advocate Rakesh Meihoubam.

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