The Supreme Court has said that it must express its anguish over the manner in which women have been subjected to grave acts of sexual violence during sectarian violence and strife in Manipur.
“Subjecting women to sexual crimes and violence is completely unacceptable and constitutes a grave violation of the constitutional values of dignity, personal liberty and autonomy, all of which are protected as core fundamental rights under Part III of the Constitution,” said a bench of CJI D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra in its judgment, which was uploaded late in night on Thursday.
The bench said that mobs commonly resort to violence against women for multiple reasons, including the fact that they may escape punishment for their crimes if they are a member of a larger group.
It said that in time of sectarian violence, mobs use sexual violence to send a message of subordination to the community that the victims or survivors hail from.
“Such visceral violence against women during conflict is nothing but an atrocity,” it added.
The court said that it is the bounden duty of the state – its foremost duty, even – to prevent people from committing such reprehensible violence against women and protect them from the violence targets. It termed the pace of investigation by Manipur Police as “tardy” pace of after noting that there were significant delays between the occurrence of incidents involving heinous crimes including murder, rape and arson and the registration of zero or regular FIRs.
It said that there were delays in recording witness statements, effecting arrests, and ensuring medical examination of victims. On July 20, the Supreme Court took suo moto cognizance of the disturbing viral videos and asked the Centre and the state government to apprise it about the steps taken by July 28.
Later, the two tribal women who were paraded naked and sexually assaulted in Manipur had approached the top court claiming that the Manipur Police collaborated with the mob to allow perpetration of sexual violence on them.