Nude protest at Kangla, movement against AFSPA revive memory of '04 uproar HC allows State Govt to open Manorama probe report

Imphal, Sep 5 : In a signi-ficant ruling the Gauhati High Court has allowed the State Govt to open and act upon an inquiry report on the facts and circumstances leading to the brutal killing and ‘rape’ of Thangjam Manorama Devi by Assam Rifles soldiers in July 2004.
Justices Amitava Roy and BD Agarwal, in their Principal seat at Guwahati , pronounced the judgment on August 31 and its copy was made available to the media on today.
The bullet riddled body of Manorama , then 32 , was found in the wee hours of July 11, 2004 at Laipharok Maring village in Imphal east after she was picked up the previous evening by Assam Rifles personnel from her home at Bamon Kampu Mayai Leikai, who also issued an arrest warrant. The AR personnel belonged to the 17th Bn, which had its headquarters at Kangla then.
The judgment followed three writ appeals filed by the family members of Manorama, the State Govt and the Assam Rifles on separate pleas against an earlier single bench ruling passed on June 22, 2005.
The 2005 order had imposed restrictions on the State Government to open the Manorama killing inquiry report prepared by a Judicial Commission of inquiry set up by the State saying that the State Govt had no authority to institute such commission against the armed forces (central forces), under the provisions of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
It, however, said the probe report should be sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the latter would examine and take appropriate action against the Assam Rifles soldiers if indicted in the report.
In the writ appeals the Assam Rifles argued that since the 2005 order pointed out that the State Government are not empowered or authorised to set up the Commission of inquiry against the Central forces, its report should not be acted upon, while the State Govt and the bereaved family argued the State Govt is empowered and competent to institute such a commission. Today’s order said the impugned notification passed by the State Govt on July 12, 2004 constituting the commission of inquiry to probe into the incident against the Central forces “is hereby adjudged legal and valid.”
“ The State of Manipur is left at liberty ,if so advised , to deal with the report submitted by the Commission strictly in accordance with the provisions of the Act, 1952 and other relevant provisions of law pertaining thereto.”
Supreme Court lawyer Colin Gonsalves assisted by Rakesh Meihoubam appeared on behalf of the bereaved family members.
A frail Khumanleima, mother of Manorama, while appreciating today’s verdict, said she wants to see the guilty AR personnel being punished.  (The Sangaiexpress)

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