‘No Trust in Manipur Govt’: SC on Denial of Medical Examination to Kuki Undertrial Prisoner

Manipur Violence

The Supreme Court observed on Wednesday that it does not trust the Manipur government and expressed shock over a matter in which an undertrial prisoner was not sent for a medical examination because he was from the Kuki community.

Mentioning a bail order by the Manipur High Court, a vacation bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and Ujjal Bhuyan informed that the man was not allowed for the medical examination because he was from the “Kuki community and that shifting him to the hospital will be hazardous, taking into account the law and order situation.”

Manipur declared ethnic violence between the Meitei and the Kuki communities in May 2023. The conflict led to the deaths of a minimum 225 people and displaced 60,000 people from their homes since the start of the conflict.

The Apex Court observed that the man from the Kuki community, whose trial was about to begin, was a patient with piles and tuberculosis. He had also complained to jail officers about severe back pain.

It further noted that on November 22, a medical expert tested and noticed tenderness in the man’s lower spine and suggested an X-ray. However, the medical services were not there in Manipur Central Jail, where he was staying.

“Sorry counsel, we do not trust the state [of Manipur],” the bench stated.

“We do not. The accused was not taken to the hospital because he is from the Kuki community. So sad. We direct him to be examined now. If the medical report reveals something serious, we will take you to task. Remember that.”

The bench also informed in its decision that it could have made observations about the approach of the Manipur government and the High Court but was holding back from doing so.

The court ordered the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state to quickly admit the accused to Gauhati Medical College in Assam and get him tested. The bench also directed the officers to receive detailed medical reports from the accused and present them before the court on or before July 15.

The Manipur state will pay for the medical checkups of the accused, the court informed.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte