The Supreme Court on Monday described the violence perpetrated against women in strife-torn Manipur as of “unprecedented magnitude” and refused to consider a plea on similar alleged incidents in opposition-ruled states, such as West Bengal, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Kerala.
The top court, which was hearing a batch of pleas related to the ethnic violence in Manipur, was told by lawyer Bansuri Swaraj that incidents of violence against women in West Bengal also need to be considered and the mechanism sought to be evolved should be made applicable in other states as well.
“The daughters of India need to be protected,” Swaraj said, adding, “After the horrific incident (of two women paraded naked) of May came to light in Manipur, identical incidents took place in Bengal and Chhattisgarh.”
“A video came to light in which a mob disrobed a panchayat poll candidate and paraded her nude in a village in the district of Howrah (in West Bengal). Another candidate was also paraded nude during the panchayat poll violence. No FIR has been registered,” the lawyer said.
“Crimes against women take place all over the country. This is part of our social reality. Presently, we are dealing with something which is of unprecedented magnitude and pertains mainly to the crimes and perpetration of violence against women.
“There is a situation of communal and sectarian strife … in Manipur. So what we say is that there is no gainsaying that there are crimes against women taking place in West Bengal as well,” the bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud said.
The bench, also comprising Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, said presently, it is hearing pleas related to Manipur.
It said the incidents of crime committed against women in Manipur cannot be equated with similar incidents in other parts of the country.
“If you have really something to assist us on that (Manipur), then please assist us,” the CJI said.
Swaraj said she has filed an intervention application in the case and referred to incidents of crime against women in West Bengal, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Kerala.
“We will hear you on that later…. We are dealing with Manipur right now,” the CJI said.
Whatever mechanism the court is proposing to set up should be made applicable to the other states as well and the remedial steps should not be confined to Manipur alone, Swaraj said.
“In the case of West Bengal, it is equally grave because violence against women is ultimately used to punish the electorate. Indira Jaising says there are 5,995 FIRs in Manipur and 9,304 FIRs have been lodged in West Bengal, only 3 per cent (of the accused) are incarcerated and 97 per cent perpetrators are roaming free,” the lawyer said.
The conscience of the civil society has all of a sudden woken up in the case of Manipur, she added.
“What happened in Manipur cannot be condoned. But bone-chilling facts are coming to light in West Bengal, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Kerala after the incident (of two women paraded naked) took place in Manipur. Kindly set up the mechanism not for Manipur only,” Swaraj said. (PTI)