Last Updated on September 25, 2023 by News Desk
The Manipur Bar Association has been ordered by the Supreme Court to allow any lawyer to appear before the courts without considering the community they belong to. The Court issued the directive after hearing a number of petitions on the ethnic violence between the Meitei and Kuki groups that has been occurring in the state since May of this year.
The bench, presided over by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra, made it clear that the directive was not given in response to any specific complaint but rather as a warning to all attorneys to make sure that access to justice is not impeded. The bench also stated that disobeying the injunction would constitute contempt of court.
At the hearing, Senior Advocate Anand Grover informed the Supreme Court that attorneys representing a certain committee were facing threats, attacks, and obstacles to their ability to appear before the Manipur High Court and that protection for attorneys was necessary.
“You may remember that Grover previously informed the Supreme Court that threats prevented some attorneys from appearing on behalf of particular clients”, said Mr. Anand. Moreover, he referenced the situation of attorneys quitting their representation of Professor Kham Khan Suan Hausing in the Manipur High Court after one of them had his home and office vandalised. In fact, the stories of violence against attorneys in Manipur for taking up cases have the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) seriously concerned.
CJI DY Chandrachud criticised the Supreme Court for limiting protection to only attorneys, arguing that it is not doing its job. However, the Manipur High Court Bar Association’s senior attorney, Ranjit Kumar, disputed this, stating that all attorneys are admitted.
The Chief Justice of India (CJI) asked the association president if any community lawyers were being prevented from appearing before the Manipur High Court. The president responded that no lawyers were being prevented. The CJI asked the President to show a sample of orders indicating that lawyers from all communities are appearing before the High Court.
The Solicitor General of Manipur, Tushar Mehta, stated that the High Court is functioning normally and that petitioners were making an “unfortunate attempt to add flame to the situation by using the court.” To address concerns about full access to the court by bar members.
The bench passed an order directing the State of Manipur and the Chief Justice of the High Court to establish video conference facilities in all sixteen districts of Manipur. Any violation of this direction will be treated as contempt.
Case Title: Dinganglung Gangmei vs. Mutum Churamanu Meetei & Ors.
Written by: Srijan Raj @raaj_srijan