Manipur violence: Supreme Court refuses to entertain transgender activist plea to quash FIR for fasting unto death

The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to entertain writ petition filed under Article 32 by transgender activist Malem Thongam who sought to quash the FIRs registered against her for fasting until death to protest against the ongoing Manipur crisis. 

Nonetheless, the top court has given the liberty to approach the Manipur High Court under a section 482 CrPC Petition. Malem Thongam has been fasting unto death since February 27, 2024, with a demand to restore peace and harmony in the northeastern state of Manipur.

The bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra declined to interfere in the matter. The bench observed that it would be pertinent to first approach the High Court. Senior Advocate Anand Grover and Advocate Mr Rohin Bhatt appeared for the petitioner.

When the Chief Justice asked the counsel to go to the High Court, Senior Advocate that the petition was filed considering that similar matters concerning Manipur had been admitted by the bench. Nonetheless, CJI DY Chandrachud reverted, saying that now that the Manipur High Court has become functional, petitioners can approach there instead.

According to the Writ Petition, two FIRs have been filed against the petitioner on March 2 charging her for offences under Section 309 and 153A of the Indian Penal Code alleging that she was causing enmity between different tribes, attempting suicide and on March 12 under Sections 309 and 505(b) of the IPC. 

On both the aforesaid occasions, the Trial Court granted her bail. In one of the judgments of The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Imphal East, it was observed that seen from the case records that there is no material disclosing that the accused person has promoted enmity between different groups and done acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony. 

According to the facts of the case, the accused has started fasting unto death from February 27 with a demand to restore peace and harmony in Manipur. The northeastern state is in turmoil due to the ethnic class which started on May 3, 2023.

The petitioner also contended that the Imphal Police repeatedly picked her up from the place of protest and forcibly admitted her to the JNIMS hospital. In her plea, she had sought clubbing of the FIRs, and after going through them, quashing the same.

The Supreme Court, seemingly disinclined to issue notice, granted liberty to the petitioner to move to Manipur High Court under S. 482 CrPC.

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