he state of Manipur in India has been grappling with a prolonged period of violence, leading to loss of lives and the displacement of thousands of people. The issue came to the fore when Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, representing the Manipur Tribals’ Forum Delhi (MTFD), urged the Supreme Court to deploy the Indian Army or Paramilitary forces to enhance security measures in the state. However, Chief Justice of India, D.Y. Chandrachud, rejected the plea, emphasizing the importance of civilian control over the armed forces and highlighting that the maintenance of law and order falls under the domain of the Manipur and Union Governments.
The Role of the Judiciary in Deploying Armed Forces
On July 11th, 2023, the Supreme Court, led by CJI Chandrachud, asserted its stance on not functioning as a security or law enforcement apparatus. While acknowledging the seriousness of the situation in Manipur, the Court maintained that directing military or paramilitary forces is beyond its purview. This perspective stems from the principle of civilian control over the armed forces, which is a cornerstone of a democratic system. By refraining from issuing directions to the Army, the Court aims to uphold this principle and avoid overstepping into the executive domain.
Judicial Overreach or Selective Intervention?
Despite the Court’s refusal to deploy the Army directly, it is crucial to recognize that the judiciary has, in certain instances, issued directions to paramilitary forces. This raises questions about the apparent inconsistency in approach. While the Court may not assume the role of a law enforcement agency, there have been instances where it has intervened to restore order using paramilitary forces. Striking a balance between non-interference and selective intervention remains a complex challenge for the judiciary.
Responsibility of the Central and State Governments
The responsibility for tackling violence and maintaining law and order primarily lies with the elected governments – both at the central and state levels. The Central government holds the authority to deploy the armed forces when necessary, but it must do so judiciously, taking into account the constitutional principles and respecting the autonomy of the states. The state government also plays a crucial role in addressing the root causes of violence and implementing effective policies for conflict resolution and development.
Need for Effective Measures
The violence in Manipur has had devastating consequences for its people, with over 140 lives lost and thousands displaced. The Central government needs to take the situation seriously and implement strong measures to address the root causes of the conflict. This includes identifying and holding accountable those involved in perpetrating violence, while also addressing grievances and concerns of the affected communities.
Furthermore, there is a need for better coordination and cooperation between the Central and state governments to ensure a more effective response to the escalating violence in Manipur. This collaboration is essential to provide a comprehensive and sustainable solution to the longstanding issue.
The Manipur violence remains a challenging and sensitive issue, demanding urgent attention and effective measures from the authorities. While the Supreme Court rightly upholds the principle of civilian control over the armed forces, it is essential for the Central government to take appropriate action and address the violence with a sense of responsibility. A balanced approach, respecting the constitutional boundaries and empowering the state while ensuring accountability, can pave the way for a lasting resolution in Manipur. Only through collective efforts can India strive towards a future where peace and stability prevail in the region.