Friday, February 23, 2024
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Supreme Court: Dispose off riot victims’ bodies in 2 weeks, Supreme court orders Manipur | India News



NEW DELHI: Scotching attempts by certain civil society organisations to fuel tension in Manipur by preventing relatives from claiming bodies of persons killed during the ethnic conflict, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the state government to dispose off the bodies stored for months in mortuaries, if the relatives did not claim them in two weeks for last rites at nine earmarked sites.
“We do not want to keep the pot boiling over dead bodies,” said a bench of CJI D Y Chandrachud, Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, which was disturbed by Justice the Gita Mittal-led SC appointed committee’s report that civil society organisations (CSOs) were preventing relatives from claiming 88 of 94 bodies stored at mortuaries since May, when the ethnic strife started.
The SC also directed the collectors and superintendents of police in the districts where the nine sites for burial/cremation have been earmarked to facilitate the last rites without any “let and hindrance by any group or person”. It also asked them to take all steps to maintain law and order.
While directing dignified disposal of six unidentified bodies by the state within a week, the bench asked the state to inform relatives of each identified body by Monday and help them in reaching mortuaries, taking the bodies to earmarked burial/cremation sites and carrying out the last rites as per their religious customs. However, it clarified that if bodies were not claimed despite intimation, the state would be free to bury/cremate them a week after intimation was given to the next of kin.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for certain tribal organisations, repeatedly pleaded for adjournment of the hearing to enable the petitioners to respond to Mittal’s report but did not respond to the SC’s suggestion that carrying out last rites of the dead was in the best interest of the kin and society.
Gonsalves also raised the demand of the tribal bodies for mass cremation at one site as per tradition. This was objected to by solicitor general Tushar Mehta, who said that carrying out of last rites was for the relatives to decide, and not for certain civil society organisations represented by Gonsalves, and whose roles had been critiqued by the Justice Mittal Committee, which said that mass cremation was a ploy to whip up emotions and refuel ethnic tension. For the Justice Mittal Committee, advocate Vibha Datta Makhija said the tribal organisations had lined up 50 empty coffins outside the Churachandpur district commissioner’s office in a bid to whip up emotions.
The chief justice-led bench said, “Gonsalves, you are obstructing the early disposal of the bodies. You do not want a solution.”
On the suggestion of senior advocate Indira Jaising, to which the SG agreed, the bench directed the state government to preserve DNA samples of each body before its release to relatives as investigations into the cases involving killings are going on under the supervision of an SC-appointed SIT headed by Dattatray Padsalgikar.



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